Thursday, March 17, 2022

The Bacon Presidential Library vol. 7: His Excellency

 His Excellency: George Washington - Joseph J Ellis

Vintage Publishing

352 Pages

When it comes to Washington biographies, His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J Ellis is one of the shortest ones I’ve seen. That didn’t mean it took much less time to read, or had much less information in it. This book packed a lot of punch in a small amount of space. To quote some of the Doctor’s companions, “It’s bigger on the inside!”

Ellis provides an introduction to the life of our first president that most people will be able to enjoy. It is not one of the scholarly tomes that may intimidate some readers, but it could serve as a gateway to those other works, whether it be Flexner’s four-volume set, or Chernow’s single book (which itself, though daunting, could be seen as another introduction to Washington.) The author stated in the introduction that he was not trying to recreate the earlier, heavier works about Washington, he instead wanted to focus on the man.

If there was any shortcoming to this book, that endeavor to focus on the man detracted from the story as a whole. In my opinion, understanding what is going on in the world around that person does much to explain their actions and reactions. That is a part of history that is sorely lacking in today’s politicized atmosphere. Context is important. Regardless, some of the high points of events surrounding Washington were touched upon, to lend some of that. I wished there had been more.

Ellis wrote this book less as a scholar and more as an artist, attempting to paint a portrait of Washington. This was for the reader to better understand the man rather than an academic deconstruction. The story of George Washington’s life comes alive on the page. Ellis makes him more relatable than some of the other books I’ve read. And the reader will get an introduction to him that will harken back to their school days, when they first learned of George Washington.

If you’re looking to get a start on learning about George Washington, Joseph J Ellis’ His Excellency: George Washington is a great beginning. By its very nature, you will get a short, concise history of our first president. Make this the first book that you read about Washington, and you just might find yourself looking for some deeper looks into the first leader of our country.

Craig Bacon needs to get back on task with this project. There is a big pile of books waiting to be read for both Washington and Adams.

Next up: George Washington: The Political Rise of America’s Founding Father by David O Stewart