The First of Men: A Life of George Washington

John E. Ferling, Author University of Tennessee Press $39.95 (598p) ISBN 978-0-87049-562-5
In addition to reviewing the first president's familiar sterling attributes, Ferling, a historian at West Georgia College, focuses on his character flaws, although here there isn't a great deal of material to work with. The young Washington was accused of ingratitude, and certain of his letters from this period read as if they were written by ``a pompous martinet and a whining, petulant brat.'' As commander-in-chief of the Continental Army, he lost his temper more than once and may have indulged a flatterer or two on his staff. Aaron Burr found him ``a boring, colorless person.'' As president, he was ready to believe the worst about individual officials, before all the evidence was in. Ferling concludes that Washington's personality and temperament were those of ``a self-centered and self-absorbed man, one who since youth had exhibited a fragile self-esteem.'' He nevertheless managed to realize virtually every grand design he ever conceived, as the biographer fully demonstrates. (July)
Reviewed on: 07/01/1988
Release date: 07/01/1988
Paperback - 616 pages - 978-0-19-539867-0
Paperback - 598 pages - 978-0-87049-628-8
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