For months (okay, maybe it’s years now), I’ve heard Glenn Beck rave about The Real George Washington by Andrew Allison. Beck claims it’s the must-read biography about our nation’s finest founder. Finally, it became available at the library and I read it. My impressions?
The Real George Washington is LONG
I was a bit disconcerted to see that The Real George Washington is over 900 pages long; not a book for the faint-hearted. However, upon further perusal I saw that the biography itself was about 600 pages, with the remaining 300 devoted to an index and a section of quotes by Washington.
The Real George Washington is an easy read
Despite its length, the book is easy to read. I think the average middle school student would have no trouble with the writing and vocabulary. Additionally, the book is divided into short chapters and those chapters are further subdivided into brief sections, each with a highlighted title. This makes it easy to read in short segments of time.
The Real George Washington presents a very positive view of Washington
The overwhelming impression I got of George Washington from this book was that he was about as perfect as a human can be. That’s probably the book’s biggest shortcoming as well. I know Washington was great, but honestly, he would have come across more “real” had the author included at least one or two negative traits. Surely even George Washington had a few!
The Real George Washington presents Washington as a humble patriot
Having said that, I finished the book highly impressed with our first president. It gave me a deep admiration for Washington’s service to our country. When he was about to be asked to serve as commander for the Revolutionary War, George apparently left the room, hoping that the powers-that-be would choose someone else instead of him.
After the war ended, he hoped to enjoy life with Martha at his Mount Vernon estate. But this was not to be: leaders asked him to serve as the nation’s first President. Washington was not excited by this prospect; he took on the job only to serve his country. Likewise with a second term; Washington would have much preferred retirement to the limelight. How many of today’s leaders have to be convinced to serve?
The Real George Washington presents a leader to emulate
I would recommend The Real George Washington, but I didn’t find it markedly better in terms of learning about Washington than other Washington biographies I have read. It focused heavily on battles, with many details given for each. I find that I prefer a book that focuses more on the subject’s personal life, and for that, sometimes the wife’s biography is better. I have enjoyed reading biographies about Martha Washington; these have given details about how George interacted with his wife and stepchildren (George and Martha appear to have had an excellent relationship, full of easy conversation and respect).
In short, The Real George Washington is a detailed look at the life of our first President and one of our preeminent founders. If you enjoy details and want a positive look at Washington, this is a great place to start.