GEORGE WASHINGTON: The Indispensable Man

by James Thomas Flexner

ISBN 978-0-945707-35-6  $35.00

423 pages including acknowledgements, bibliography, index plus illustrations

This complete life of George Washington is a condensation of James Thomas Flexner’s prize-winning four volume biography.


Vivid on the one hand and factually solid on the other, Flexner’s narrative absorbingly shows us the future hero as a callow youth, writing bad verse and in love with love.  We see the era and the society which formed Washington and the individuals who mattered to him: his mother, who became an obdurate squatter on the farm he inherited; his beloved and ailing older brother, Lawrence, who married into the distinguished Fairfax family; George William Fairfax, who, in turn, married Sally Cary; and Sally, who stirred in Washington such forbidden ardor that twenty-five years later he could write her that none of the great events of his career, “nor all of them together, have been able to eradicate from my mind those happy moments, the happiest of my life, which I have enjoyed in your company.”


We are witness to eight fateful years, as Washington lived them day by day and month by month.  We see a Virginia officer catapulted – despite his obvious military limitations and his own protestations of inadequacy – into the command of an amateur army opposing an experienced European force under elite leadership.  The fact that Washington was at first out-generaled is not surpressed.  His failures and reverses are not diminished or excused.

VOL 3.  AND THE NEW NATION (1783-1793)

This volume begins with Washington’s return to Mount Vernon, a victorious, but exhausted soldier eagerly seeking the pleasures of a quiet country life.  Free of heavy responsibilities his character expands in genial, often unexpected ways.  All too soon, however, the idyll is broken.  Washington is called to lead the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia.  Popular confidence in him secures the ratification of the new government by the states.  His is unanimously chosen our first President.


The fourth and final volume of one of the most distinguished American biographies of our generation.  Covering the tumultuous years of Washington’s second term as President, his retirement, and his death, the book reveals the almost shattering pressures under which Washington struggled to maintain American’s unit during its first great peacetime testing as an independent nation.

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