HIS EXCELLENCY: George Washington

Joseph J. Ellis, Author . Knopf $26.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-4000-4031-5

In this follow-up to his bestselling Founding Brothers , Ellis offers a magisterial account of the life and times of George Washington, celebrating the heroic image of the president whom peers like Jefferson and Madison recognized as "their unquestioned superior" while acknowledging his all-too-human qualities. Ellis recreates the cultural and political context into which Washington strode to provide leadership to the incipient American republic. But more importantly, the letters and other documents Ellis draws on bring the aloof legend alive—as a young soldier who sought to rise through the ranks of the British army during the French and Indian War, convinced he knew the wilderness terrain better than his commanding officers; as a Virginia plantation owner (thanks to his marriage) who watched over his accounts with a ruthless eye; as the commander of an outmatched rebel army who, after losing many of his major battles, still managed to catch the British in an indefensible position. Following Washington from the battlefield to the presidency, Ellis elegantly points out how he steered a group of bickering states toward national unity; Ellis also elaborates on Washington's complex stances on issues like slavery and expansion into Native American territory. The Washington who emerges from these pages is similar to the one portrayed in a biographical study by James MacGregor Burns and Susan Dunn published earlier this year, but Ellis's richer version leaves readers with a deeper sense of the man's humanity. 16 pages of photos not seen by PW . (Nov. 1)

Forecast: The 500,000 first printing seems steep but could be justified by Ellis's record and the current popularity of the Founders. First serial to American Heritage magazine.

Reviewed on: 08/02/2004
Release date: 10/01/2004
Genre: Nonfiction
Hardcover - 592 pages - 978-0-375-43190-6
Peanut Press/Palm Reader - 216 pages - 978-1-4000-4376-7
Compact Disc - 978-0-7393-0228-6
Compact Disc
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-0-7393-0229-3
Analog Audio Cassette - 978-1-4025-9301-7
Paperback - 320 pages - 978-1-4000-3253-2
Hardcover - 320 pages - 978-0-571-21212-5
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