The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon by John Ferling | Paperback | Barnes & Noble
The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon

The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon

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by John Ferling
     
 

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Our first president has long been viewed as a stoic hero who rose above politics. The Ascent of George Washington peers behind that image-one carefully burnished by Washington himself-to reveal a leader who was not only political, but a master manipulator adept in the arts of persuasion, leverage, and deniability. Washington screened his burning ambition behind an

Overview

Our first president has long been viewed as a stoic hero who rose above politics. The Ascent of George Washington peers behind that image-one carefully burnished by Washington himself-to reveal a leader who was not only political, but a master manipulator adept in the arts of persuasion, leverage, and deniability. Washington screened his burning ambition behind an image of republican virtue-but that image made him just the leader that an overmatched army, and a shaky young nation, desperately needed.

Editorial Reviews

Library Journal

Ferling (history, emeritus, Univ. of West Georgia; Almost a Miracle) attempts to shed new light on the myth that George Washington was above partisan politics, instead showing that Washington was not only very partisan but probably one of America's best politicians. In fact, Ferling argues, he was so skilled at portraying himself as the impartial "father of the country" that most historians have overlooked his political savvy. Ferling seeks to remedy the situation with this "political biography." He traces Washington's evolution from a self-serving and insecure young man driven by a quest for recognition and wealth into a seasoned political veteran who could maneuver, cajole, and cut backroom deals as adroitly as any modern politician. One example is his handling of the Hamilton-Jefferson battles over the country's economic structure. Although Washington showed sympathy toward both sides and urged conciliation, it becomes clear by studying his behavior and writings at the time that he supported Hamilton's vision of a strong central government. Ferling has done his research and offers some new insights, but ultimately most of the history he presents is familiar. Recommended for readers interested in taking a fresh look at Washington's political life.
—Robert Flatley

Kirkus Reviews
Historian Ferling (Almost a Miracle: The American Victory in the War of Independence, 2007, etc.) unveils the canny politician behind America's first president. In a revisionist view, the author argues that Washington, generally thought of as a selfless Olympian figure who was above politics, was actually "a master of political infighting . . . one of the very best politicians in American history." Reminding readers of the president's godlike status at his death in 1799-people wore black armbands for 30 days-Ferling examines the career of this soldier, legislator and president, finding him burned with ambition for renown and success from an early age. Born with a meager inheritance and determined to enter the planter aristocracy, Washington kowtowed to the rich and powerful for a chance at winning glory as commander of Virginia's army in the French and Indian War, laying the groundwork for his postwar political ambitions. After 16 years in Virginia's House of Burgesses, where he cultivated other assemblyman as supporters, he took command of the Continental Army at no salary, burnishing his reputation as a self-denying warrior and emerging after the War for Independence as America's most powerful man. Ferling's bright narrative offers considerable evidence of Washington's savvy politicking in these later years. He sought a canal linking the Atlantic to the Ohio country that would cause his own lands to soar in value; after 1783 he twice declined to hold public office, knowing full well that the nation would demand that he leave the quiet of Mount Vernon to assume the presidency; as president he argued for locating the nation's capital in an area where he owned property. Never questioningWashington's greatness, Ferling insists that seeing him as an artful self-promoter and master politician only enhances his reputation as an adept leader who knew exactly what he was doing. In fact, writes the author, Washington "was so good at politics that he alone of all of America's public officials in the past two centuries succeeded in convincing others that he was not a politician."A fresh take on a monumental American.
From the Publisher
"[A] bright narrative." —Kirkus

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781608190959
Publisher:
Bloomsbury USA
Publication date:
05/11/2010
Pages:
464
Sales rank:
720,012
Product dimensions:
6.44(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.31(d)

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Meet the Author

John Ferling is a professor emeritus of history at the State University of West Georgia. A leading authority on American Revolutionary history, he is the author of seven books, including Adams vs. Jefferson: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, The First of Men: A Life of George Washington, and the award-winning A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic. His most recent work, Almost a Miracle, was a history bestseller.

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