The Ascent of George Washington: the Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon by John Ferling

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The Ascent of George Washington: the Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon by John Ferling

Post  Bookworm on Tue Oct 01, 2013 6:48 pm

John Ferling does not have much good to say about the father of our country. From his early bungling at Fort Necessity in 1754 during the French and Indians War, through his wavering and inept leadership during our fight for independence during the New York campaign, and three years of military inactivity after 1778, and the largely French inspired victory over the British at Yorktown in 1781, and his misguided monarchial approach to his eight-year reign as President of the newly-formed United States of America, Washington became an icon of American history solely through his physical stature. He was worshipped, even by disparaging Jefferson and Franklin and Thomas Paine and Patrick Henry, simply because he was there.
Washington was not averse to accepting praise. Indeed, he became adept at seeking it. Although not a splendid or even adequate orator, he possessed the innate ability to listen and win adversaries to his opinions through quiet and dispassionate conversation. That, perhaps, was his genius.
It is incongruous that Washington gratefully took full credit for Yorktown, ostensibly the victory that led the British to capitulate, even though most of the acclaim has to be given to Rochambeau and Admiral De Grasse of the French navy. Ironically, traitor Benedict Arnold, a fine soldier who needed to be distinguished for his efforts at Saratoga, got none, the credit going to Washington's nemesis, Horatio Gates, who fiercely sought the command of the Continental army, such as it was.
Much of the book focuses on the clever young lad from St Croix, Alexander Hamilton, who through his intellect became Washington's alter-ego with his Federalist views of a strong central government and national bank.
As in all well-researched and excellent histories, it helps to know something more about Washington other than that he was the father of his country and was married to Martha, who probably did more to inspire the troops during the winter months than her iconic husband.

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