The Richmond History Podcast

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow

Print c. 1876 after Gilbert Stuart's painting of George Washington
Courtesy of the Library of Congress

Ron Chernow's Washington: A Life is a thorough and humanizing portrait of one of the most recognizable men in American history that covers his military career to his political career, from his relationship with his mom to his relationship with his slaves.  As recognizable as he is, I image most Americans don't know very much about him.  It's easy to see historical figures as stiff and serious as if they are always posing for the portraits with which we are so familiar.  Washington may have been about as close to that description as a human could be (or at least that is what he wanted people to see,) but Chernow allows more humanizing signs peek through.  Aggression, ambition, and compassion, among other emotions come through as the father of our country grows though the book, making some good and some bad decisions, but the reader is given the freedom to to make moral decisions themselves with out being dictated to by the author.
The book while long is worth the time because of it's comprehensive nature and is well researched and well written.  I listened to the audio book and the narrator Scott Brick does a great job of reading in a plain,  passive way, not acting, allowing the book to be  more important then the reading.
Maybe you received a gift card, a new iPod or a new e reader, I highly recommend this book in audio or written version.


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