George Washington: A Reading List

Tue, 02/13/2018 - 11:37am -- baglio

On February 22nd, The Artillery Company of Newport will march to the Redwood Library to celebrate the 286th birthday of George Washington. In honor of his birthday, this reading list will focus on him, with a bonus book of course on the Artillery Company as well. Washington carries many titles with his name; General, Founding Father, President, Family Man, Surveyor, Slave Owner. What did these titles mean, and what makes George Washington so interesting, so important in our lives. Using this reading list, we can hopefully endeavor to answer these questions, and understand who George Washington was, and who he is to us today.

 

Washington: A Life

By, Ron Chernow

A gripping portrait of the first president of the United States from the author of Alexander Hamilton, the New York Times bestselling biography that inspired the musical.

Celebrated biographer Ron Chernow provides a richly nuanced portrait of the father of our nation and the first president of the United States. With a breadth and depth matched by no other one volume biography of George Washington, this crisply paced narrative carries the reader through his adventurous early years, his heroic exploits with the Continental Army during the Revolutionary War, his presiding over the Constitutional Convention, and his magnificent performance as America's first president. In this groundbreaking work, based on massive research, Chernow shatters forever the stereotype of George Washington as a stolid, unemotional figure and brings to vivid life a dashing, passionate man of fiery opinions and many moods.

George Washington: American Symbol

George Washington is universally considered to be our most accomplished president, the perfect merger of military hero, effective administrator, and great leader. In honor of the 200th anniversary of his death, this beautiful volume presents the many manifestations of Washington the national icon, for we have continually turned to his image during virtually every period of our history for both inspiration and marketing clout.

George Washington: A Life in Books

By, Kevin J Hayes

Based on a comprehensive amount of research at the Library of Congress, the collections at Mount Vernon, and rare book archives scattered across the country, Kevin J. Hayes corrects this misconception and reconstructs in vivid detail the active intellectual life that has gone largely unnoticed in conventional narratives of Washington. Despite being a lifelong reader, Washington felt an acute sense of embarrassment about his relative lack of formal education and cultural sophistication, and in this sparkling literary biography, Hayes illustrates just how tirelessly Washington worked to improve. Beginning with the primers, forgotten periodicals, conduct books, and classic eighteenth-century novels such as Tom Jones that shaped Washington's early life, Hayes studies Washington's letters and journals, charting the many ways the books of his upbringing affected decisions before and during the Revolutionary War. The final section of the book covers the voluminous reading that occurred during Washington's presidency and his retirement at Mount Vernon. Throughout, Hayes examines Washington's writing as well as his reading, from The Journal of Major George Washington through his Farewell Address. The sheer breadth of titles under review here allow readers to glimpse Washington's views on foreign policy, economics, the law, art, slavery, marriage, and religion-and how those views shaped the young nation.. 

 

The First Congress: How James Madison, George Washington, and a Group of Extraordinary Men Invented the Government

By, Fergus M Bordewich

This “fascinating” (Chicago Tribune), “lively” (The New York Times) history tells how the First Congress and the Washington administration created one of the most productive and far-reaching governments in American history—“gracefully written…and well worth reading” (The Wall Street Journal).

The First Congress may have been the most important in American history because it established how our government would work. The Constitution was a broad set of principles that left undefined the machinery of government. Fortunately, far-sighted, brilliant, and determined men such as Washington, Madison, Adams, Hamilton, and Jefferson (and others less well known today) labored to create a functioning government.

In The First Congress, award-winning author Fergus Bordewich brings to life the achievements of the First Congress: it debated and passed the first ten amendments to the Constitution, which we know as the Bill of Rights; admitted North Carolina and Rhode Island to the union when they belatedly ratified the Constitution, then admitted two new states, Kentucky and Vermont, establishing the procedure for admitting new states on equal terms with the original thirteen; chose the site of the national capital, a new city to be built on the Potomac; created a national bank to handle the infant republic’s finances; created the first cabinet positions and the federal court system; and many other achievements. But it avoided the subject of slavery, which was too contentious to resolve.


George Washington: The Wonder of the Age 

By, John Rhodehamel

As editor of the award-winning Library of America collection of George Washington’s writings and a curator of the great man’s original papers, John Rhodehamel has established himself as an authority of our nation’s preeminent founding father. In this “crisply written, admirably concise, and never superficial” biography (Fergus M. Bordewich, Wall Street Journal) Rhodehamel examines George Washington as a public figure, arguing that the man—who first achieved fame in his early twenties—is inextricably bound to his mythic status. Solidly grounded in Washington’s papers and exemplary in its brevity, this approachable biography is a superb introduction to the leader whose name has become synonymous with America.


The Perils of Peace: America's Struggle for Survivial After Yorktown

By, Thomas Fleming

On October 19, 1781, Great Britain's best army surrendered to General George Washington at Yorktown. But the future of the 13 former colonies was far from clear. A 13,000-man British army still occupied New York City, and another 13,000 regulars and armed loyalists were scattered from Canada to Savannah, Georgia. Meanwhile, Congress had declined to a mere 24 members, and the national treasury was empty. The American army had not been paid for years and was on the brink of mutiny.

In Europe, America's only ally, France, teetered on the verge of bankruptcy and was soon reeling from a disastrous naval defeat in the Caribbean. A stubborn George III dismissed Yorktown as a minor defeat and refused to yield an acre of “my dominions” in America. In Paris, Ambassador Benjamin Franklin confronted violent hostility to France among his fellow members of the American peace delegation. 

Thomas Fleming moves elegantly between the key players in this riveting drama and shows that the outcome we take for granted was far from certain. With fresh research and masterful storytelling, Fleming breathes new life into this tumultuous but little known period in America's history.


George Washington's America: A Biography Through His Maps 

By, Barnet Schecter

From his teens until his death, the maps George Washington drew and purchased were always central to his work. After his death, many of the most important maps he had acquired were bound into an atlas. The atlas remained in his family for almost a century before it was sold and eventually ended up at Yale University's Sterling Memorial Library.

 

Inspired by these remarkable maps, historian Barnet Schecter has crafted a unique portrait of our first Founding Father, placing the reader at the scenes of his early career as a surveyor, his dramatic exploits in the French and Indian War (his altercation with the French is credited as the war's spark), his struggles throughout the American Revolution as he outmaneuvered the far more powerful British army, his diplomacy as president, and his shaping of the new republic. Beautifully illustrated in color, with twenty-four of the full atlas maps, dozens more detail views from those maps, and numerous additional maps (some drawn by Washington himself), portraits, and other images-and produced in an elegant large format-George Washington's America allows readers to visualize history through Washington's eyes, and sheds fresh light on the man and his times.


 

First in Peace: How George Washington Set the Course for America 

By, Conor Cruise O'Brien

Just before he died after a long and distinguished international career as a politician, commentator, and author, Conor Cruise O'Brien completed a study of George Washington's presidency. Cruise O'Brien has been described as “a man who so persistently asks the right questions” (The Economist), and in this, his last book, he explores the question of how early America's future was determined.

First in Peace considers the dissension between Washington and Jefferson during the first U.S. presidency, and reveals Washington's clear-sighted political wisdom while exposing Jefferson's dangerous ideology. Cruise O'Brien makes the case that Washington, not Jefferson, was the true democrat, and commends his clarity of vision in restoring good relations with Britain, his preference for order and pragmatism, and his aversion to French political extremism.


Washington's Crossing 

By David Hackett Fischer

Six months after the Declaration of Independence, the American Revolution was all but lost. A powerful British force had routed the Americans at New York, occupied three colonies, and advanced within sight of Philadelphia.

Yet, as David Hackett Fischer recounts in this riveting history, George Washington--and many other Americans--refused to let the Revolution die. On Christmas night, as a howling nor'easter struck the Delaware Valley, he led his men across the river and attacked the exhausted Hessian garrison at Trenton, killing or capturing nearly a thousand men. A second battle of Trenton followed within days. The Americans held off a counterattack by Lord Cornwallis's best troops, then were almost trapped by the British force. Under cover of night, Washington's men stole behind the enemy and struck them again, defeating a brigade at Princeton. The British were badly shaken. In twelve weeks of winter fighting, their army suffered severe damage, their hold on New Jersey was broken, and their strategy was ruined.

 

Fischer's richly textured narrative reveals the crucial role of contingency in these events. We see how the campaign unfolded in a sequence of difficult choices by many actors, from generals to civilians, on both sides. While British and German forces remained rigid and hierarchical, Americans evolved an open and flexible system that was fundamental to their success. The startling success of Washington and his compatriots not only saved the faltering American Revolution, but helped to give it new meaning.


Martha Washington: An American Life

By, Patricia Brady

With this revelatory and painstakingly researched book, Martha Washington, the invisible woman of American history, at last gets the biography she deserves. In place of the domestic frump of popular imagination, Patricia Brady resurrects the wealthy, attractive, and vivacious young widow who captivated the youthful George Washington. Here are the able landowner, the indomitable patriot (who faithfully joined her husband each winter at Valley Forge), and the shrewd diplomat and emotional mainstay. And even as it brings Martha Washington into sharper and more accurate focus, this sterling life sheds light on her marriage, her society, and the precedents she established for future First Ladies.

 

Washington's Revolution: The Making of America's First Leader

By, Robert Middlekauf

A vivid, insightful, essential new account of the formative years that shaped a callow George Washington into an extraordinary leader, from the Bancroft Prize winner and Pulitzer Prize finalist Robert Middlekauff.

George Washington was famously unknowable, a man of deep passions hidden behind a facade of rigid self-control. Yet before he was a great general and president, Washington was a young man prone to peevishness and a volcanic temper. His greatness as a leader evolved over time, the product of experience and maturity but also a willed effort to restrain his wilder impulses.

Focusing on Washington’s early years, Robert Middlekauff penetrates his mystique, revealing his all-too-human fears, values, and passions. Rich in psychological detail regarding Washington’s temperament, idiosyncrasies, and experiences, this book shows a self-conscious Washington who grew in confidence and experience as a young soldier, businessman, and Virginia gentleman, and who was transformed into a patriot by the revolutionary ferment of the 1760s and ’70s. Taking command of an army in constant dire need—of adequate food, weapons, and, at times, even clothing and shoes—Washington displayed incredible persistence and resourcefulness, growing into a leader who both understood and defined the crucial role of the army in the formation of a new American society.

 

George Washington Remembers: Reflections on the French and Indian War

By, George Washington and Fred Anderson

In 1786, George Washington wrote a rare autobiographical account of his service in the French and Indian War. In these eleven pages, Washington relates the compelling narrative of his experiences during the war, including a striking account of the friendly-fire incident at Fort Ligonier in 1758 that ". . . involved the life of GW in as much jeopardy as it had ever been before or since. . . . "

George Washington Remembers presents for the first time in print this extraordinary account that offers a very personal glimpse of a self-reflective leader seldom seen in Washington's other writings. The reproduction is accompanied by an annotated transcription of the piece and original essays that place the work in the context of the French and Indian War and Washington's life.

Lavishly illustrated, this remarkable book is essential for all interested in George Washington and our nation's founding period.

 

In the Name of the Father: Washington's Legacy, Slavery, and the Making of the Nations

By,  Francois Furstenberg

In this revelatory and genuinely groundbreaking study, François Furstenberg sheds new light on the genesis of American identity. Immersing us in the publishing culture of the early nineteenth century, he shows us how the words of George Washington and others of his generation became America?s sacred scripture and provided the foundation for a new civic culture?one whose reconciliation with slavery unleashed consequences that haunt us still. A dazzling work of scholarship from a brilliant young historian, In the Name of the Father is a major contribution to American social history.

 

The Artillery Company of Newport: A Pictoral History

By, Walter K. Schroder

The Artillery Company of Newport, Rhode Island's oldest all-volunteer Militia unit was established in 1741 by action of the General Assembly of the British Colony of Rhode Island and Providence Plantations. Serving under its original Charter, the Company for many years was an active participant and supplier of manpower in military conflicts of the 19th and 20th centuries. In modern times the Company, as an active member of the Rhode Island Council of Historic Military Commands, functions as an educational, non-profit organization upholding the traditions of the past. This book provides the reader with a first-hand opportunity to witness the formation of the unit in 1741 via a series of historic documents, as well as the Company's rise to fame and honor by way of an outstanding collection of artifacts that are maintained in its Armory and Museum, and presented here as an integrated pictorial history.