Tuesday, June 23, 2009

The Ascent of George Washington

Even compared to his fellow founders, George Washington stands tall. Our first president has long been considered a stoic hero, holding himself above the rough-and-tumble politics of his day. Now John Ferling peers behind that image, carefully burnished by Washington himself, to show us a leader who was not only not above politics, but a canny infighter, a master of persuasion, manipulation, and deniability.

I think it was William Lee Miller who noted that one of Lincoln's treasured books was Mason Locke Weems's The Life of Washington. The brief description of Ferling's new biography would appear to indicate that Lincoln modeled his administration to a large degree on that of Washington, who likewise found himself having to balance a "team of rivals."


  1. Interesting. I just bought this book. It's on the top of an unlikely stack of books at the moment, including Beyond the Revolution, a Goetzmann book, and an edition of Darwin's letters from the Beagle.

    What interested me about this book is that it appears to talk about Washington's political savvy which is what I think he may have shared with Lincoln.

    Which raises a question I have from time to time when reading contemporary "history" -- isn't the president also the commander in chief because it was assumed that Washington would be the president?

  2. I think I'm going to order this book as well, avrds.

  3. Great! We can compare notes.