jamiebowen0306 (jamiebowen0306) wrote,

I finished "His Excellency" by Joseph Ellis today.

I finished the biography "His Excellency" by Joseph Ellis today. It's about George Washington, but instead of focusing on what he did (Washington actions, we are assured, are widely written about elsewhere), it focuses on his psychology and presents his actions in terms of his psychological make-up.

It's a clever good and I learned a great deal about Washington that I didn't know before. I'm not sure, however, that it's necessarily the best place to start with Washington, if you don't know much about the guy.

I'm English. If I'm honest, the sum knowledge of what most English people know about the American War of Independence is that it lasted a long time, that Washington lost a lot (so much so that he'd probably have been sacked today under similar circumstances), that all we were trying to do was recoup the losses we incurred saving your behinds in the Franco-Indian War, and that all you did was outlasted us Brits (where the war was spectacularly unpopular, by all accounts).

This book is, unsurprisingly, written from the American perspective. So I got to see the war from a different perspective, which was good. I got a different point of view, which is always good. What I didn't like as much is that the author assumed the reader knew the facts of the war, and understood the significance of the locations he threw out. This might be fine for American readers, but it doesn't work for anyone else as well.

In short, read this book if you're American or have some prior knowledge of the war of independence. If you've neither of these qualifications, you might want to start somewhere else.

Incidentally, Thomas Jefferson is presented in an unfavorable light in this book. I might have been reading the wrong sorts of book, but I have yet to read any favorable views about him in the books I've read about the period, and I've read four well written books about it now!
Tags: book, review

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