Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Book review: His Excellency, George Washington

The November issue of Carolina Journal is posted online now; I have a review of Joseph Ellis's His Excellency, George Washington on page 20.

George Washington is the original American icon, as close as our pocket change and enigmatic as his monument. Joseph Ellis recalls his own childhood in Alexandria, Va.; the great man, he says, was “ubiquitous … like one of those Jeffersonian truths, self-evident and simply there. And the beauty of all self-evident truths was that no one needed to talk about them. They were so familiar that no one felt obliged to explain why they merited an annual parade.”

Washington has long suffered from biographers “oscillating in a swoonish swing between idolization and evisceration.” Ellis aims for the middle course and hits it squarely. The cold and formidable Washington, so imposing that even close associates drew back from familiarity, emerges as a man of like passions with ourselves. ...

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