Washington: A Life was written by Ron Chernow and received the Pulitzer Prize for Biography. Chernow received wide acclaim for this volume because it painted a much more human portrait of Washington than readers were previously familiar. Extraordinarily comprehensive in its scope, it Chernow's understanding of human nature which has brought this biography it's greatest recognition.
The source material from which the narrative was drawn is from a research project of the University of Virginia, which began in 1968, giving the readers, through the details exposed, a unique and fresh insight on Washington's life and character. Indeed, the uncovered papers: correspondence documents, maps, and images, provided Chernow with a wealth of material to paint a more intimate, more human portrait of our nation's first, and perhaps most indispensable political figure.
Covered in the biography is Washington's life from childhood through the Constitutional Convention and his presidency. Washington's participation in the French and Indian war as well as the American Revolution are also discussed. Among the more intimate details of his life covered are his leisure activities and hobbies, his role in the fruition and maintenance of Mount Vernon, his trying relationship with his mother, his involvement with a married woman Sally Cary Fairfax, and his wife Martha Dandridge Custis, whom he married just after, and his adopted children, stepchildren, and grandchildren.
Ron Chernow is a freelance journalist, historian, writer, and biographer. Born in Brooklyn, New York in 1949, he graduated from Yale with honors and received his doctorate in English literature from Cambridge. He has appeared as an expert in documentary films and is a contributor on the subjects of financial policy, politics, and business for national radio and television.
In Washington: A
Life, celebrated biographer
Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of our nation. With
a breadth and depth matched by no other one-volume life of Washington, this
crisply paced narrative carries the listener through his troubled boyhood, his
precocious feats in the French and Indian War, his creation of Mount Vernon,
his heroic exploits with the Continental Army, his presiding over the
Constitutional Convention, and his magnificent performance as America’s first
reverence his name inspires, Washington remains a lifeless waxwork for many
Americans, worthy but dull. A laconic man of granite self-control, he often
arouses more respect than affection. In this groundbreaking work, based on extensive
research, Chernow dashes forever the stereotype of a stolid, unemotional man. A
strapping six feet, Washington was a celebrated horseman, elegant dancer, and
tireless hunter, with a fiercely guarded emotional life. Chernow brings to
vivid life a dashing, passionate man of fiery opinions and many moods. Probing
his private life, he explores his fraught relationship with his crusty mother,
his youthful infatuation with the married Sally Fairfax, and his often
conflicted feelings toward his adopted children and grandchildren. He also
provides a lavishly detailed portrait of his marriage to Martha and his complex
behavior as a slave master.
At the same time, Washington is an
astute and surprising portrait of a canny political genius who knew how to
inspire people. Not only did Washington gather around himself the foremost
figures of the age, including James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams,
and Thomas Jefferson, but he also brilliantly orchestrated their actions to
shape the new federal government, define the separation of powers, and
establish the office of the presidency. In this unique biography, Ron Chernow
takes us on a page-turning journey through all the formative events of America’s
founding. With a dramatic sweep worthy of its giant subject, Washington is
a magisterial work from one of our most elegant storytellers.
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