Book Review: His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis

July 14, 2010

I got this book as a gift.

I set a goal to read, in order, all of the biographies of the presidents of the United States who have passed away.

Book Review: His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. EllisMy rating for His Excellency: George Washington- 4


His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis is an overview of Washington’s life, the important decisions he made and why did he make them. Mr. Ellis’ research is well founded; his speculations and premises make logical sense and put a new light on old tales.

The one aspect of this biography which made an impression on me is the author’s ability to connect the dots when considering why Washington, as he got older, acted in a certain way or made a certain decision. Mr. Ellis traces event back in Washington’s earlier life which explain, or try at least, his course of action.

Are Mr. Ellis’ assumptions correct?
Who knows, but isn’t that half the fun or reading history books, to make your own assumptions, theories and hypothesis and see if the author agrees with you.

I felt that “His Excellency: George Washington” is a fair portrayal of Washington as a human (much like the rest of America’s Founding Fathers) and gives the reader a new insight into the person. Joseph J. Ellis tries to take a man which has become a myth in his own time and deconstruct him to see what makes him tick.

What did he find?
Washington was a man like any of us, making his decisions based on what’s good for his bank account, and putting in strategic moves for the future. We must remember that in that time people put in work to collect decades later, unlike today.

Don’t be afraid to read this book, you will come away with a great appreciation and admiration to Washington because, not despite, he was a human being and not a super-man.

His Excellency: George Washington was also a great way to prepare for our visit to Washington’s home, Mount Vernon in Virginia on the banks of the Potomac River. If you’re in the area I highly recommend to take out a day and visit this 8,000 acre working farm – and don’t forget to tour the mansion.

As an added bonus, our kids had a blast (we spent the whole day there).

Do you agree or disagree with my review?

Zohar – Man of La Book
Dis­claimer:I bought this book.
*Ama­zon links point to an affil­i­ate account

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His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis


  • ChelleJuly 14, 2010 at 7:59 pm

    Hey, I've got the same goal! It's been slow going for me but I am making progress through the presidents. Van Buren is next on my list.

    I read this book a few years ago and enjoyed it. Looking back I think it was a great introduction to the Presidency and American history in general. I'm so jealous that you visited his estate!

    I'm part of a group now that is also reading through the presidents. We can be found on Shelfari here:
    Even if you don't read along with the group I think you'll find the discussions interesting.

    If I may suggesst "John Adams" by David McCullough for your next bio. It's thick but I loved it. Anywho…nice review!

  • Man of la BookJuly 14, 2010 at 8:05 pm

    Hi Chelle,

    I actually read this book when it first came out, I'm playing "catch up" with my new blog 🙂

    I took some time "off" while reading other history books and other genres in general. I've recently started again and I'm reading about James Monroe now.

    In about two weeks we are going to visit the homes of Jefferson, Madison and Monroe so I did needed to get back to form.

    I also got some great children books for my kids from the library.

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