WASHINGTON: The Indispensable Man by James Thomas Flexner

WASHINGTON: The Indispensable Man

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This digest of Flexner's four-volume biography of George Washington makes one see why that opus won a National Book Award. Sweet and simple without egregious slickness, Flexner's rehabilitation of Washington as a sound, innovative strategist and surpassing national leader will strike some chord in all but the sourest misanthrope; this book shows the Revolutionary War as a revolution (despite the upper classes' fear of mobilizing the people's army), and justice is done to Washington's pragmatic, chronically middle-of-the-road, gravely non-intellectual grasp of his time and his duties. Flexner's unabashed partisanship drives him into clashes with other historians: an emphasis on Washington's backwoods (as opposed to patrician) youth is followed by outbursts against those who sketch our slave-liberator Founding Father as a horrid land speculator and tight-laced Federalist. The defects of Flexner's passion become clear as he places Washington above a simplified Jefferson-Hamilton fray. But who can resist a generally persuasive restoration of a generally lovable hero?

Pub Date: Sept. 27th, 1974
ISBN: 0316286168
Publisher: Little, Brown