[Download] Washington: A Life By Ron Chernow

Washington: A Life

By: Ron Chernow
Narrated by: Edward Herrmann
Length: 14 hours
Release date: Oct 5, 2010
Rating: 1 Star2 Stars3 Stars4 Stars5 Stars (268 votes, average: 4.50 out of 5)

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Winner of the Pulitzer Prize and a New York Times Bestseller, a landmark biography of George Washington.

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 reader 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 president.

Despite the 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 massive 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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70 Responses to “[Download] Washington: A Life By Ron Chernow”

  1. Customer

    I read Hamilton first, which I thought was amazing! Then, I read this masterpiece, and I was so moved by this man, whom I’ve never met, but now feel as though he is a dear friend. Ron Chernov, thank you for writing this story about our nation’s father.

  2. Elese Newman

    A new look at an old story
    Washington: A Life is intensely comprehensive, appropriately exploring Washington’s life within the context of his time. It reveals the personal side of the man as well as the professional, and through Washington’s perspective we can understand many of the choices made in the early days of our country.

    I am not usually interested in war history, and there was a great deal of time devoted to his military career. Still, it was interesting and not as tedious as I thought it would be. What I found truly remarkable was the nearly bulletproof cloak of invincibility Washington wore. I am not usually a believer in “things are meant to be”, but as I read about his life, I did wonder if he was destined to be the first leader of this country.

  3. Nicky Gemma

    Long, but well done.
    A very long audio program, but full of interesting details. I liked it very much. Chernow did a great job of making Washington seem like a real person, not the marble statue we’ve come to know through history books. It did take several weeks to listen to it, though.

  4. Donnette Schmitz

    When you down load a five volume book you have to wonder how the reader is going to handle the material. Scott Brick pulled it off in great style, with no accents, affectations or gimmicks; he just let the events tell the story. The book is wonderful for students of American history, particularly the founding of the republic. Washington was such a big deal – seeming God-like – that his essence has almost been lost to us. It was fun to rediscover what made his so important to the founding of the United States. It was also useful to see the evolution of Washington’s belief in the necessity of a strong Federal government.

  5. Cornell R.

    Knew of him, now know him.
    The book was very well written. Captures the real Washington so much that you can vividly invision him, know him and so much more appreciate him. After finishing the book I fell back to my past over all thoughts and opinions still as Washington being more like a mythical man than a real person because of who he really was and what he did as a man and a true father to the US. It is easy to see how he became a figure that is almost saintly. the more you know him the more you love the man.

  6. Ernestine Salone

    An excellent account of Washington as a complete person covering all aspects of his life and affairs, public and private. It is a great lesson in leadership and character on one of the greatest people in western history. I too was sad when I was done and look forward to reading more by Chernow.

  7. Kiana Garretson

    Scott Brick ruins it
    There are so many books I really want to listen to (Helter Skelter also comes to mind) that are just ruined by Brick’s OVer EMPHasis on EVery SEcond or THIRD SYLLAble. I wouldn’t begrudge any man or woman a career but I just don’t understand how he continually gets work as a narrator. He reads like he is on autopilot and isn’t paying attention but merely passing by each word like products on a factory conveyor belt.

  8. Idella Schmiege

    Thorough and enjoyable
    Disclaimer: I’m not a professional historian, only a novice. This work was thorough, entertaining, and digestible. The reader is very good and is able to deftly handle all the quotes. This work employs an extensive number of quotations from Washington’s own letters and I worried that this would be difficult to discern in audiobook form. This wasn’t an issue and the reader has a gift of making it clear that he just switched to quoted material from author’s text without killing the flow of the story with “quotes.” The work itself greatly affected my opinion of GW and I my knowledge base and understanding of the revolutionary time period has improved significantly.

  9. ScoobyDo

    The combination of Chernow and Brick can’t be beat
    I recently listened to Ron Chernow’s book about Alexander Hamilton and thought it was one of the best I had listened to. But, Washington: A Life was even better. Chernow has a way of capturing the nuances of life, and he does a great job of painting a picture of what life was like day to day in the 18th century.

    I have a much better understanding and respect for the job that Washington had as 1st the leader of the Continental Army then setting the precedent as our 1st president. All the while, trying to keep his personal life from failing.

  10. Brain Gosche

    fascinating insight into his life and times
    Makes Washington and his times come alive. Gained an appreciation of Washington’s cities and shortcomings.

  11. Cornell Hilbert

    So much minutiae
    Chernow is masterful at focusing on the minutiae…and this book is full of it. There is NO doubt George Washington was a great man – an anomaly in the matrix that changed the world forever however this book does him half the justice he deserves. It is probably 500 pages too long and left me feeling underserved against the time I put into reading it.

    Washington was an elite among elite men at the time. His circle back then are still household names (think Hamilton and Jefferson and Adams and Madison), he made America (literally) and held beliefs that took 200 years to see through but stuffed in the pages are so many diversions it was hard to digest. I don’t know what I was expecting but sometimes too many details – such as this book contains – gets in the way of the salient points that made him what he is.

    I found the book dragged on longer than the 900+ pages. It was a far less worthy effort than Chernow bestowed upon Grant – which was longer and FAR better.

    Lesson here? Washington was a GREAT man. Washington the book wasn’t as great a book – but how could it have been? It’s about George Washington…

  12. Clyde Jenderer

    The fascinating story of a great life.
    This is my first service review, so bear with me, but I loved this audio book so much it seemed the perfect place to start.

    As a lover of history and biography, I was completely engrossed by this book. Chernow has a gift for storytelling, but his real skill lies in the way he shares his sources and thorough research with his readers. Even when I didn’t necessarily agree with his conclusions (which was rare), I implicitly trusted him as a biographer. He frequently shares direct quotations from his sources, lending him credibility and trustworthiness absent from less skilled biographers. When Chernow finds himself with incomplete information, he posits theories based on his own painstaking research, but is careful to let the reader know that they are merely his own theories.

    I came away from this book feeling very much as though I knew as much as can be known about one of history’s most enigmatic figures. Washington was a difficult man to know well even in his own time. Make no mistake: Washington was a great man. But he was a man, and Chernow helped me appreciate his greatness without shying away from Washington’s flaws. Washington’s views toward slavery are, to me, one of the most difficult aspects of his personal life to square with his legacy. In the end, I appreciated that Chernow spares no detail and makes no excuses for Washington on this front, but simply gives readers as much information as they can about the topic and shares his own frustration and confusion with Washington’s inconsistencies and occasional hypocrisy.

    Scott Brick has been one of my favorite narrators since I listened to his reading of “Helter Skelter.” I admit his style took a while for me to adjust to – at first his voice struck me as too stiff, too formal. But after hearing a variety of lesser narrators of other books, I have realized that he truly has a gift for clearly expressing the author’s words, style, tone, and intention. For nonfiction, he is truly one of the best.

  13. Brendon Pezzetti

    History lesson
    This is literally like taking a history 101 class on just Washington. Very amazing and thorough

  14. Elanor Langbehn

    Washington, a human being, a great man, leader, but just a man.
    An amazing look into the life and times of a man. The Father of these United States. I liked the story of his life because it portrayed the good that he did and the mistakes that he made without judgement.The story of his life and the relationships with his family and peers was well documented.When the author added his opinion about the motives behind Washington’s actions he did so fairly,looking at several possibilities for his actions. Every American should read this book! I wish there was a “junior version ” of this great book so that young Americans could grow up knowing the real George Washington.

  15. Cheryl Pullis

    Best book I’ve heard this year
    Magnjfjcently researched: written and narrated- a wonderful and thorough portrait of Washington, the man, the myth and his time in histiory

  16. Rose Boyt

    Always good to get more understanding of history
    I have to admit that I listened to the first 3 parts non stop. Interesting to hear a take on history and always good to remember that it was the needs of the wealthy landowners that brought the country into being – not the needs of the real workers. Still, after being distracted by work I’ve not gone back to finish the book.
    Had no idea that George Washington’s mother was such a nasty bit of work.
    Didn’t know that George Washington was so tall and forgot that many of the original framers of the US government lost their personal fortunes in the work they did due to the customs of the times and the state governments unwillingness to meet financial obligations.
    The book is well written and worth the time.

  17. Customer

    If you like history, this is a good book
    If you want a novel, this is not it. As it happens, I like history so I liked this book. Very long though

  18. Lizeth Kunde

    Well worth your time
    Super good book. Well worth your time even if it is more then 40 hours. 40 well spent hours.

  19. Breana Roggensack

    Everything I Could Ask for of a Biography
    Between Alexander Hamilton and this, I am completely sold on Chernow’s biographical style. His negative views of Adams and Jefferson do make me want to read more about them, just to get more information from which to draw my own conclusions. October 10th (Grant) cannot come fast enough!

  20. Stephen Reynaldo

    Comprehensive story with contextual insights
    Chernow provides a comprehensive story of Washington as a real person, with tremendous character as well as human faults. I also learned a lot about the history of that time.

  21. Fern Fringer

    I loved every minute of listening to this book. The content is interesting and compiled in chronological order and does not focus too heavily on Washington’s presidency.

  22. Hai Hoeschen

    Detailed and thoughtful
    Though quite long, the smallest details aren’t overlooked, giving us a deep look into the Father of our Nation, a heroic figure often portrayed with great detachment and reserve in our history books. Chernow leaves no stone unturned and doesn’t shy away from Washington’s faults or inner conflicts. Just be prepared to break it up over many weeks, as all good, long tomes require.

  23. John H Roberts

    Great book!!
    Wonderful book in exhaustive detail, well narrated and very interesting. I had just read Hamilton by Chernow so many facts dovetailed with what I had learned previously. I especially enjoyed the use of language by the luminaries of the era.

  24. Bridgette Yarrell

    Sad it ended
    This story, this real – real – hero, is a kind of person we may not see again. The author, and the reader, do him justice. Warts and all, a very great man, an example to us all.

    Enjoy. Savor.

  25. Delora Orwick

    Long…but Worthwhile
    This book is an informative overview of the life of George Washington. It is not an “exciting novelization” of his life but rather a thoughtful telling of the story, The narrator got the style right, too – a quiet, powerful reading. I enjoyed listening to this book for an hour or two at a time – in tasty bites. My favorite feature may be the intersection between Washington and the other founding fathers, their different personalities and political perspectives. Martha, too – it is interesting how she compared to Dolly Madison! A very worthwhile book if you enjoy history — and want to polish up your knowledge about the first president and his time.

  26. Kiku Loomis

    A nuanced picture of his life
    Would you be willing to try another one of Scott Brick’s performances?

  27. Susie Tak

    outstanding biography of George Washington. The Lexicon and vocabulary of this biography is impressive. it’s truly an engaging story then makes Washington human as opposed to legendary. the performance of the voice actor is also top-notch. I really felt like I was with Washington throughout his life. a great and long listen. I will probably go and buy the book.

  28. Alva Witherington

    excellent read
    well written and read. a must read for history buffs and Washington fans. great man and leader but not a very good general

  29. Todd

    Very Informative
    A must for those who want to know more about the “Father of our country.” The narrative is lengthy, but very well researched and the narrator does an exemplary job.

  30. Nery Florine

    Washington brought to life
    Any additional comments?

  31. Clair Gosline

    Content outstanding! Reader insufferable.
    I have never been as impressed by a biography. George Washington is recounted in fascinating detail as a man with exceptional character, talent, and courage, while at the same time the author explores his significant flaws. Quite unfortunately, the reading performance is awful, as the whole book is performed with an affected voice that mars the experience.

  32. Long Toni

    Scott Brick is an Illiterate
    I’m going to write this review for all of Scott Brick’s books. It honestly doesn’t matter how good the book is (in this case, Chernow is, as usual, excellent: he has the telling detail, writes with sweep and verve, excellent anecdotes) — whatever quality the book may have is destroyed, utterly, by the incompetent narration rendered by someone who must have learned to read late in life. Scott Brick cannot grasp the rhythm of English prose; he seems to think that modifiers are extra important, because he gives each one EXTRA EMPHASIS. The result is this balky, juddering ride over bumpy terrain in an unsprung stagecoach. Let me sum up: Scott Brick is TERRIBLE. The fact that I have several Brick-wrecked titles in my library is a testament to how hope springs eternal in the human breast. He can’t be really THAT bad, I tell myself, only to discover, $40 later, that he, in fact, is. Never again, I’d like to think. But, if I do, I’ll have my punishment.

  33. Tanisha Kadel

    Best Book on Washington I’ve Ever Experienced
    As a history buff I was pleased with this book about the life of George Washington. I now feel I know
    Washington. . . not just as our first President, but as a human being.

    Ron Chernow did an excellent job on this book and Scott Brick brought it to life with his fine narration.

  34. sparhawk6

    The statesman
    Great biography. I appreciated the personal anecdotes that uncovered Washington’s true personality, e.g., his “relationships” with Sally Fairfax and Elizabeth Powell. I really got a sense of his personal growth, from the young surveyor to the general in the continental army to his second term in office.

    It is a pity that Martha burned all their personal correspondence. Chernow explains that was common in the period. Too bad.

    Scott Brick as the narrator was excellent. He had a perfect cadence. I’ve found myself looking for other books that he has narrated.

  35. Ofelia Conine

    Superior Story; Tremendous Insights!
    What a wonderfully pleasant surprise this book was! I learned SO much more about the Father of our Country than I anticipated.

    The story shares countless insights about the man – especailly across the last 45 years of his life, from his service in the French and Indian Wars all the way to his passing in late 1799. The author provides deep insights into the man as husband, patriarch, military leader, a patriot championing independence from England, a humble, principled politician, a man who consistently wrestled with the issue of slavery, and a man with personal faults of his own, especially in handling money.

    The performance was outstanding, adding value to my experience with the book.

    This book was a truly valuable use of time. I share this last note because the unabridged version is quite lengthy.

  36. Lacy Morita

    Absolutely Remarkable
    Excellent book, excellent narration. Chernow provides a great balance of the somewhat trivial with all the good meaty stuff. Every time I start thinking he is getting just a little too detailed, he wraps it up and moves on. This book, and the Hamilton book, demonstrate just how fantastic a biographer Ron Chernow is.

  37. Russel Kall

    George Washington – His life in extreme detail
    This was a very long book and it contained extreme detail of his life from start to finish. I have a very different view of Washington based on the contents of this book. The vocabulary was a few years above my education level, but I still enjoyed the book. If you want to know the details of the beginning of our government, the influence of our founding fathers, the description of war in its ugly detail, read this book.

  38. Eugenia Mirjah

    A Great Man and a Good Book
    I loved learning more about the life of George Washington. There are so many books on his life out there to choose from and I’m not sure why I chose this one, but it was a good book. It did not sugar coat Washington’s life, but did show so many of Washington’s qualities that make us think of him as a national hero. I am glad I listened to it. I learned a lot, such as the fact that when he was gravely ill, the doctors drained 5 pints of blood from him because they believed an illness was the result of bad blood. He died, needless to say. I also learned that in spite of never having children of their own, he and Martha raised quite a few children, including two of Martha’s children from a previous marriage (the two oldest had passed away), and later her son’s children, Eleanor and Washy. (Yes his name was George Washington Custis, and they called him Washy.) I learned that he was never very close to his mother who never seemed to be proud of her son’s accomplishments. I learned a lot about his prowess as a general in an unwin-able war, which he managed to win anyway. I learned that he never really wanted to be president of the United States, and never intended to serve a second term, and that he was a very good dancer. And I unlearned a lot, such as the fact that he never cut down a cherry tree, and never said “I cannot tell a lie,” although he was a very honest person, and he never had wooden teeth. I learned and unlearned a lot more than this, of course, and I’m glad I got to know this great man a little better. I do honor him and all he did for our country.

    Scott Brick is a good narrator, and is in fact many people’s favorite. Although I like him, he is not my favorite. I would not listen to a book just because he is narrating it and would certainly not like to listen to him read the phone book. (I would not mind listening to some of my favorite narrators read the phone book – that is my litmus test of a great narrator.) But he does a good job with this rather lengthy book.

  39. Ed Sullivan

    Revealing autobiography of Washington
    Great book which sponges away the diet image we’ve all been taught in history class and exposes an imperfect man who grows into greatness.

  40. Wayne Oldroyd

    In American history lesson for today’s citizens
    A biography by Chernow never disappoints. The level of detail is meticulous and well researched which at times can overwhelm the reader. Should be a must read for all coming-of-age citizens. It provides a whole new perspective on the American Revolution and George Washington. For better or worse, Washington’s story illustrates the saying of “better lucky than good.” He was always prepared but at times he was more than lucky whether the back rooms of politics or the battlefield. Bringing that aspect of life is the core of the biography.

  41. Jacquiline Kells

    A must read for any history buff
    This was amazing. I learned a whole lot about GW i never knew. There was a whole lot of politicing back then i had no clue.

  42. Bruno Cota

    The First American
    Guard against the impostures of pretended patriotism.
    – George Washington

    My first exposure to Chernow was his now über-famous biography. My daughter owns her own copy of Chernow’s Alexander Hamilton and just today showed me Chernow rapping “Alexander Hamilton” dressed in the show’s distinctive revolutionary garb for #Ham4Ham. We were lucky enough to see Hamilton in NYC.

    So, now, after President Trump’s election, I’m finding spiritual solace in reading a book-a-day (at least in January) and trying to read at least one presidential biography a month (this month I read two, this one and Caro’s The Path to Power, LBJ #1). I need to be reminded that, yes, politics has always been nasty AND — yes — this too will pass.

    Anyway, while I didn’t like the George Washington bio QUITE as much as I enjoyed Chernow’s Hamilton bio, it might have been for reasons beyond Chernow’s control. I’ve read a bunch of Washington biographies and there isn’t much that I haven’t come across, or at least knew if not in form certainly by shadow. There wasn’t much here that was surprising, but as a biography it was compelling. Chernow did a masterful job of threading throughout the biography certain Washington traits and contradictions, the biggest being his views on slavery, and his treatment of slaves. The fact that Chernow didn’t write a hagiography but was trying to paint a full picture of our first president was obvious. As far as biographies of Washington go, this one beats Ellis’ His Excellency: George Washington by “a large and straight rather than prominent” nose.

    Chernow is technically more of a journalist than a historian, but in this age of modern biographies there is certainly room for the self-taught. In many ways, journalists often produce fantastic biographies since they often have a distinct narrative talent. That doesn’t mean Chernow isn’t historically rigorous in his historical efforts. Many of the primary sources are ones I hadn’t read before, or were ones used in a different context. So, while I don’t think Chernow writes as well as Robert Caro, he still belongs on the top shelf of living presidential biographers.

    So, now after this I’m going to definitely have to read:

    1. Titan: The Life of John D. Rockefeller, Sr.
    2. The House of Morgan: An American Banking Dynasty and the Rise of Modern Finance
    3. The Warburgs: The Twentieth-Century Odyssey of a Remarkable Jewish Family

    I own the first two, so obviously, I’ll start with those.

  43. Curtis Claybourn

    Fantastic book that everyone should read
    Highly recommend this book. It was an excellent and in depth story of Washington’s life. Everyone should read it.

  44. Zane R.

    Much Better than expected
    As someone who has only recently started reading biographies, Washington: A Life was much better than I expected. This book flushes out the historical narrative of Washington with fresh detail and an engaging performance. It is filled with detail of personal confrontation and decision, really focusing on Washington as an individual and not just his impact on the US.

  45. Debera

    An Excellent Work
    I’ve read numerous books on the life of G.W., but I find this to be the most comprehensive and honest work yet. I truly learned much about Washington the man I had not known.

    As usual, Scott Brick performed superbly as narrator.

  46. Carman T.

    Might be a great book, but Performance drags
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

  47. Joanie Azor

    Honor, Duty, Providence… and Slavery
    I’ll second all the sentiments previously stated by readers saying they were sad when this title ended. Chernow’s ‘Washington: A Life’ is a powerhouse work about a unresting man whose actions affect the lives of every US citizen to this day.

    Chernow’s libretto is superbly crafted, moving chronologically from cradle to grave. Further (print version only), each chapter is completely peppered with footnotes. No stone was left unturned in Chernow’s unending research. The result is a portrait of Washington that is detailed and intimate: strengths and weaknesses, successes and failures.

    Washington’s successes were in spite of his lack of formal education. Even without this education, Washington’s quotes and written passages (of which there are hundreds–a true goldmine) are a joy to read and re-read. I purchased the print edition after the first few chapters for this reason alone. The spoken and written language of that period is exquisite–full of passion, respect, great vocabulary–and Chernow’s ‘Washington’ captures this feel with outstanding success.

    I have been moved very deeply by this title, and this feeling is not going away anytime soon. I’m left with a strong feeling of respect, inspiration, and gratitude. What strengthens this feeling further is the final paragraph of Chernow’s acknowledgements, only available in the print edition. For fellow listeners, I will repeat this important passage here:

    "Finally, I must acknowledge the inexpressible debt that I owe to my late wife, Valerie Chernow, who died during the composition of this work. She encouraged me to undertake the project and discussed it with me nightly until the end. For more than twenty-seven years, Varlie was my muse, my in-house editor, my delightful confidante. To this beautiful human being, I owe simply everything." –Ron Chernow

    It appears that our author has a streak of persistence, passion and duty akin to his historical muse. To Mr. Chernow, Mr. Brick and President Washington: may these recordings of your labors, sufferings and triumphs inspire others for dozens of generations to come.

  48. Teisha B.

    Great book!??
    This is my fourth major book about Washington within 6 months; as well as a trip to Mount Vernon. What amazes me is all the new information I learned about Washington, the revolution and the beginning of the American government by reading this book. Time well spent.??

  49. vsters_hobby

    Chernow brought Washington to life
    It was very well written and brought an historically stoic figure to life. One that we all can relate to. I can’t even imagine all of the research and time it took for this book to come to fruition. Well done!

  50. Felecia Ridlen

    Worthy of your time
    This is a very long book and I didn’t miss a single chapter! I am amazed at how much I learned.

  51. Dick Bega

    Chernow/Brick Make For A Pleasant Experience
    This was my second listen to a Chernow book, with Brick doing the reading (first was Alexander Hamilton biography). Having also listened to a dozen other books since then, I now realize how much Brick adds to the experience- his enunciation, tone, and perfect pace are just the best I’ve ever experienced.

    As for the book itself, Chernow does an excellent job of presenting Washington in an honest, un-doctored way. As with many of the founding fathers, Washington was a Godsend to this country- reminiscent of George C Scott as Patton, when he points out that he is basically in the right place at the right time in history to fulfill a destiny that most likely, could not have been achieved without him. The evidence shows that this country might never have come into existence without the Washington-shaped piece of the puzzle being present.

    In addition to presenting Washington’s full life, there are many references to letters, relationships, and wartime experiences across the board. You truly get the sense that Washington tried to be the best he could be throughout his life, according to the code of ethics he had been raised to respect.

    The book also breaches the subject of slavery, and how Washington perceived the idea. Although he tried to be a very humane slave owner, he was still an owner of slaves. While this is hypocritical to the cause he was engaged in, and an obviously flawed position (even for his time), it was one of very few ‘bad positions’ he was guilty of.

    Overall, the book goes a long way to show how much more he did for the country than most of us realize. Instead of a man of average means for the last half of his life, he could have been very wealthy if he would have stayed out of the initial issues with England, and just selfishly gone about his business.

  52. Branda Glesener

    A Listen Worth the Undertaking
    Washington: A Life, By Ron Chernow. This is a complete, and I do mean comprehensive retelling of George Washington’s life. No iota of detail is ignored. Yet, while wide-ranging minutia does not necessarily mean a great biography, this prodigious work is enlightening and a magnificent read or listen. This story was brilliantly told, read and kept one’s interest for the astounding length of 41+ hours.

    We have here a key to understanding Washington the man: his frailties and perfections, and how they made him the right man for the thirteen colonies, the presidency and perhaps the singular reason the United States was able to continue notwithstanding its embryonic troubles.

    The book takes us through Washington’s youth, his days in the wilderness, his adoration of women, his desire for acceptance into the gentry, his ability (or inability) as a general, his mystic status with the colonists, his all-important presence as our first president, his disputes with Jefferson, Madison and Monroe, and his friendship and the importance of Hamilton. No matter what Washington’s personal needs were he always considered the need of the nation first.

    Surprisingly, he was not such a successful General and if it were not for the French, managing on his behalf we may not have prevailed in the Revolutionary War. Further, although he knew the atrocity of slavery, he never had the courage to undo it but always let that tragedy lay for some later resolution. He was insightful as a businessman/farmer but because of his outsized dedication to our Union first, he was a failure in his management of Mount Vernon. We also see him as a fierce tyrant as an officer. Was that a virtue or a failing?

    Most interesting we learn he had little compassion for individuals but broad humanitarianism for the whole. He was limited with an understanding of democracy but knew to rely on Jefferson for theory and Hamilton for implementation. This is a read worth the undertaking.

    Most of all, and notwithstanding his deficiencies, we are who we are today because of his strengths.

  53. Monty Dunovant

    Chernow does it again. A masterful retelling.
    Simply masterful. Beginning to end. You know the man, his character, his strengths and flaws, and the personal drive and fortunate accidents that led him to become the first leader of our great country.

  54. Wilhelmina Wellbrock

    Cannot Recommend it Highly Enough
    This book is a behemoth, but worth every minute. It manages to be all at once informative, edifying, and darn entertaining.

  55. Alfredo Franchette

    Best of the Washington Biographies!!
    I have read several biographies about George Washington in my life and this is the best. Well told from both a personal and public life perspective. I learned many things I was previously unaware of in Washington’s life.
    Scott Brick as the reader only made it better!

  56. Edwin

    Valuable retrospective
    This is an insight into Washington that I have never read; and I read allot of American History. The drama of the Revolution and its battles would be adequate interest and entertainment but the various profiles as land and slave owner, genreal, president with his personal ltravails is handled with deference to the non-historian. The narration is excellent. I only gave it four stars because ther are some transsitions that surprised me in thier abriptness.

  57. Mickey Renschler

    All inclusive of “A Life” that all should study
    I’m always surprised to learn as much as I do when listening to non-fiction and thus, the impetus for my choosing the book. However, I was surprised at how much I didn’t know and how much was false teeth about the man that we were all inundated with during our public education.

    This book was quite long, 41 hours, but entirely worth it. My commute is only 25 minutes each way so it took me awhile to get through the book. But, there was never a time I thought, “this is too long and/or uninteresting.” From the beginning through his death, Ron Chernow describes Washington’s character, personality, mannerisms, thought process, bias, passion and personal philosophy as he evolved from European aristocracy to Southern Planter to Revolutionary to his arriviste with the continental congress and culminating with his inimitable leadership as the first president. However, through it all, what surprised me most, was Washington’s Federalist leaning.

    I think the logical follow up to this book is Chernow’s biography on Alexander Hamilton as no other person plays a more important role in Washington’s politicking than Hamilton. We as American’s celebrate Jefferson, unabashedly, as the preeminent founding father (not including Washington) but fail to realize that Washington disagreed with much of Jefferson and his followers’ views for the country, preferring Hamilton and the Federalists.

    Be prepared with a dictionary in hand as the first hand accounts (journals and letters) used a far more sophisticated vocabulary than we use today. My favorite word, and apparently Washington’s as well; Licentious.

  58. Carl Hammerdorfer

    This book brought the man and his times to life. It’s better than any biography of George in its honesty and completeness.

  59. Gaston Fanizzi

    Better story than narrator
    Would you consider the audio edition of Washington: A Life to be better than the print version?

  60. Toby Cleverly

    A full and revealing portrait.
    The book provides a full and revealing portrait of our greatest Founding Father that is a must for anyone interested in the origins of the United States.

  61. Hugh Rollyson

    Don’t let the length scare you off
    It took an extended period to complete this audio book, with many breaks to listen to other books, but it was well worth the investment of time. Living in NJ brought the war for independence home providing context to many historical sites in the area (across the 13 colonies actually). The insight into the evolution of the nation was also very relevant to show that US politics hasn’t changed much (sorry to say) since Washington’s second term.

  62. Albert Rodolph

    Father of our Country for Sure
    This book is a gem. Well presented and full of every aspect of Washington’s life and sacrifice. This is an important book for anyone who wants to understand how this country was founded and what makes our system of government truly exceptional.

  63. Reita D.

    Washington, a life.
    I very much enjoyed this book. Mr. Brick was excellent as the reader. I recommend this book to everyone interested in history and human behavior.

  64. Bella H.

    A true history book.
    I’ve read John Adams, Ben Franklin, Alex Hamilton, and many more books on history of Presidents, Politics doesn’t change over the years. This is an excellent book. The only book of history I’ve read that is better on the Revaluation war is 1776.

  65. Dayle Smiht

    Love it!
    I’m only halfway through this title but it is excellent. It’s very detailed but not a dry and scholarly tome like some other titles I’ve run across on the Revolutionary time-period. The narration is a performance to keep the text alive but it isn’t over the top.

  66. Kellie Stuckman

    The Real Story Behind a Sacred Figure in History
    What did you love best about Washington: A Life?

  67. Fredia M.

    good story, not a fan of performance
    I like this author and the book was entertaining, but I am not a fan of the narrator’s voice.

  68. Harold H.

    great story with lots of detail
    a very detailed and extremely interesting story about Washington and all those around him. very complete.

  69. Jeanene Vespa

    I have listened to this story twice and will probably listen to it again. In my opinion every student should have to hear about how this country was founded and the tremendous sacrifices given for us. George Washington was in my opinion truly the father of this country he was not alone that’s for sure but he was the key to establishing our government.

  70. Leta Casbarro

    Amazingly entertaining for a forty hour book!
    I’m not a historian, so I can’t speak to the accuracy of this biography, but Washington’s life is made entertaining and he feels much more real to me as a character. The narration is excellent as is the pace. I find myself occasionally listening to this in the driveway, when I come home from work. I drive quite a bit for work and this makes the commute much more manageable.

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