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Extended Audio Sample Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation Audiobook, by Richard Norton Smith Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (74 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Richard Norton Smith Narrator: Nelson Runger Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: February 1993 ISBN: 9781470325497
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Repeatedly during his eight years as president, George Washington saved the infant republic from the factionalism and the involvement of foreign wars that threatened its existence. He skillfully moderated the feuds among his cabinet, especially those between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, and achieved his own political ends by seeming to be above politics. His actions and character defined the very nature of the presidency and, even more than the Constitution itself, made the new American government work.

Better than any biographer before him, Richard Norton Smith gives us the “living” Washington, a working politician beset by crises, a masterly manager of men and events, anything but the time-worn marble monument.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “This is a lively, well-written study of Washington’s presidency and subsequent retirement to Mount Vernon; the first U.S. president emerges as a dedicated and politically astute manager who had a tart sense of humor.” 

    Publishers Weekly

  • “Runger’s reading ranges from lively to formal. Sometimes entertainer and sometimes lecturer, he matches his tone to Smith's text, which is larded with interesting stories of political squabbling and family trivia. Recorded Books has put together another perfect match between text and reader.


  • “Smith captures well the bittersweet presidential years, when Washington used the vast capital of his personal prestige to cement the bands of a shaky union. With wonderful use of detail and anecdote, Smith argues that Washington was not the mere figurehead that other historians have portrayed but a canny politician who mastered and controlled his brilliant subordinates.”

    Library Journal

  • “An absorbing look at the first American presidency, in which Washington emerges not as the familiar George Stuart icon but as a fallible human being—one whose personal qualities nonetheless made him the quintessentially great man of American history…A fine, highly readable, and nicely balanced account.” 

    Kirkus Reviews

Listener Opinions

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Rosemary | 10/15/2013

    " Interesting - post Revolution. Thankful to see we begun fighting each other. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Barbara Lovejoy | 8/30/2013

    " I enjoy reading books about George Washington, but this one was not one of my favorites. I found it somewhat hard to read, but still discovered some new things about Washington. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jared | 5/13/2013

    " First of many contemparary bios of Washington I have read and or intend to read. a very good start on a really great man. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Steve Hemmeke | 3/25/2013

    " Bio of Washington - pretty good "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Amy | 3/21/2013

    " A bit dry, but I love Washington. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Brian Black | 2/13/2013

    " A little dense for me and hard to find the interesting points of his life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rich | 12/7/2012

    " A fascinating account of the origins of our governmental system. Washington was a far more intelligent and influential character than many critics give him credit for, and there is no denying his influence on the formation of our government. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John Hartwell | 11/11/2012

    " Actually, more like 3.5 stars. My biggest beef is the writer's style; it's a bit dry. But, he offers a fairly comprehensive portrait of Washington, giving us a good sense of what it was exactly that set him apart from his contemporaries. A good read. "

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About the Author

Richard Norton Smith is the author of Thomas E. Dewey and His Times and biographies of George Washington and Herbert Hoover. A distinguished political speechwriter, he has worked especially closely with Bob and Elizabeth Dole, with whom he collaborated on their bestselling memoir Unlimited Partners. The director of the Gerald R. Ford Museum and Library, he lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

About the Narrator

Nelson Runger’s voice has been recorded in dozens of audio productions and won him two AudioFile Earphones Awards. His ability to convey difficult, scholarly material with eloquence and ease has earned him critical acclaim, including an AudioFile Best Voice in Biography & History for his reading of Nixon and Kissinger.