Revolutionary: George Washington at War

Robert L. O’Connell. Random House, $32 (384p) ISBN 978-0-812996-99-9
This idiosyncratic volume from popular historian O’Connell (Fierce Patriot: The Tangled Lives of William Tecumseh Sherman) about Washington’s life before the White House takes some contrarian stances. Writing in a colloquial style (he frequently refers to Washington as GW),O’Connell declares, for example, that “the English armed forces never came close to winning, and never could.” The book follows Washington from his time as a canny young aristocrat eager to climb the ladder of power in the British military, through his turn from a member of the colonial Virginia House of Burgesses to the determinedly honorable leader of the revolutionary forces, to his 1873 “victory tour” after the revolution’s conclusion. In addition to including some hyperbole, this account is often more speculative than rigorous; a typical passage reads, “Washington says nothing in his diary about the brutality he might have observed [among slave owners in Barbados], but he cannot have missed the paranoia of the place... quite possibly [forming] the initial template for his own unease with slavery.” Readers seeking an entertaining yarn will find one, but those who find this kind of loose argumentation anathema will want to pass it up. (Apr.)
Reviewed on : 05/30/2019
Release date: 04/02/2019
Genre: Nonfiction
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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