The Indispensable Man

Book - 2012
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"Historian James Thomas Flexner's multi-award-winning and magisterial four-volume biography of George Washington moved beyond what the author termed “the marble image” to reveal the man behind the icon. This updated illustrated edition--based on the bestselling 1974 one-volume abridgement--enhances Flexner's graceful prose with an assortment of rare maps, lost letters, and historical images, giving readers an unmatched perspective on the man whose inspired leadership as soldier and statesman made him the indispensable rallying point of a daring revolution and the bulwark of a new nation" --from the publisher.
Publisher: New York : Sterling ; Lewes : GMC Distribution [distributor], 2012.
Edition: Illustrated ed.
ISBN: 9781402778216
Branch Call Number: B Washington
Characteristics: xiii, 435 p. : ill. (chiefly col.), maps ; 26 cm.


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From Library Staff

"After forty-five years of my life dedicated to its service with an
upright zeal the faults of incompetent abilities will be consigned to oblivion,
as I myself must soon be to the mansions of rest." – George Washington, "One Last Time"

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Nov 07, 2018

The author wrote four volumes of the life of our first president in the late 1960's and condensed them into these 423 pages, but the text is “almost all together new,” he advises in the “Preface.” Now deceased, the author received the highest awards for his work and so I imagine that his knowledge and appreciation for George Washington remains unequaled to this day.

I gained a special appreciation for the father of our country thanks to the author’s emphasis on the personal aspects of George Washington’s life. For example, I was touched to learn that almost everyone he met, from the time he was a young man to his last years, trusted him almost immediately for his honesty and good will, and fully expected him to execute a plan, whatever it might have been. His famous crossing of the Delaware, as commander of the bedraggled American forces, to surprise the British at Trenton, is probably the best-known example of how his men loyally followed him even when he had been losing numerous battles. He was not a trained warrior, but he was not afraid to take the lead and do his best for his upstart nation. He stressed heavily on this account.

Washington owned slaves who worked on his plantation, Mount Vernon. Contradictorily, however, the author portrays him as a man so concerned about the welfare of others that he refused to sell his slaves to avoid separating family members, something that made him stand out in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Consequently, Mount Vernon gradually loaded up with a surplus of slaves that simply added to Washington’s mounting indebtedness. This situation came to an end after his death only when his wife liberated them all, at a high cost, to be sure. Flexner’s knowledge of George Washington is outstanding, of course, in part because of his secure familiarity with Washington’s writings, letters, mostly. I found the author’s writing elliptically old-fashioned throughout, but it was worth turning every page. His bibliography must be the best up to 1974, the date of publication.

helenmatt Jan 08, 2014

Great if you're interested in the early history of the US. Lot's of info/detail.


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