Blood of Tyrants: George Washington & the Forging of the Presidency

Blood of Tyrants: George Washington & the Forging of the Presidency

4.5 34
by Logan Beirne

View All Available Formats & Editions

Blood of Tyrants reveals the surprising details of our Founding Fathers’ approach to government and this history’s impact on today. Delving into the forgotten—and often lurid—facts of the Revolutionary War, Logan Beirne focuses on the nation’s first commander in chief, George Washington, as he shaped the very meaning of the…  See more details below


Blood of Tyrants reveals the surprising details of our Founding Fathers’ approach to government and this history’s impact on today. Delving into the forgotten—and often lurid—facts of the Revolutionary War, Logan Beirne focuses on the nation’s first commander in chief, George Washington, as he shaped the very meaning of the United States Constitution in the heat of battle.

Key episodes illustrate how the Founders dealt with thorny wartime issues: Who decides war strategy? When should we use military tribunals over civilian trials? Should we inflict harsh treatment on enemy captives if it means saving American lives? How do we protect citizens’ rights when the nation is struggling to defend itself? Beirne finds evidence in previously-unexplored documents such as General Washington’s letters debating torture, an eyewitness account of the military tribunal that executed a British prisoner, Founders’ letters warning against government debt, and communications pointing to a power struggle between Washington and the Continental Congress.

Vivid stories from the Revolution frame Washington’s pivotal role in the drafting of the Constitution. The Founders saw the first American commander in chief as the template for all future presidents: a leader who would fiercely defend Americans’ rights and liberties against all forms of aggression.

Blood of Tyrants pulls the reader directly into the scenes, filling the void in our understanding of the presidency and our ingenious Founders’ pragmatic approach to issues we still face today.

Read More

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

"[T]here is almost no tale told of the Revolution that does not find its way into 'Blood of Tyrants,' provided it is juicy enough."

Wall Street Journal

“Gripping. Relevant. Revolutionary. This page-turning historical thriller is packed with fresh factual narratives that draw the reader into the scenes to show how the United States earned its stripes. The wisdom of 1776 was never more crucial than today.”

Amy Chua, Yale Law School professor and best-selling author of Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Day of Empire, and World on Fire

"In this fast-paced narrative, Logan Beirne vividly explains something every American should know, but which few of us really understand. Blood of Tyrants is a lively account of how George Washington's service as wartime commander-in-chief of the Continental Army cemented our commitment to the principle of civilian supremacy, yet also laid the basis for the presidency that the Constitutional Convention created only a few years after Washington resigned his command. It is both a great read, and deeply informative."

Jack N. Rakove, American historian, author, professor at Stanford University, and Pulitzer Prize winner.

"[T]he important political lessons of the past are given a fresh new perspective. . . . Beirne’s genealogical and personal interest in history, politics and the military makes for an enjoyable read."

Washington Times

“What can we learn about America’s proper comportment in today’s dirty wars from a long-dead, white male, slave-owning aristocrat of the 18th century? A lot, it turns out. Logan Beirne’s paean to Washington’s wartime wisdom and belief in constitutional government is a timely, insightful, and much-needed reminder of why America does best at war when it honors rather than erodes its founding principles.”

Victor Davis Hanson, senior fellow in classics and military history at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, and author of Carnage and Culture and A War Like No Other

“What are the constitutional powers of the president in time of war? Do his war powers grant him authority to establish military tribunals, torture enemy prisoners, and override Congress in the determination of military strategy and operations? As Logan Beirne demonstrates in this fresh and stimulating history of the American Revolution, Commander-in-Chief George Washington confronted these questions and established precedents that have continued to shape presidential war powers down to our own time.”

James McPherson, Princeton University professor emeritus, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom, and best-selling author of Crossroads of Freedom

“There was more to the founders than noble sentiments and fine words–they were revolutionaries, who fought for and won America’s freedom on bloody battlefields. Blood of Tyrants tells this gritty story smartly and compellingly –and plumbs it for practical lessons for the toughest issues of our times.”

Adam Cohen, Time Magazine journalist and author of Nothing to Fear: FDR’s Inner Circle

“Blood of Tyrants strips away the fantasy and lays bare the violence and political intrigue needed for the American Revolution to succeed. Lurid, horrifying, scandalous. I could not put it down.”

William Eskridge Jr., Yale Law School professor, author of The Republic of Statutes, and descendant of George Eskridge, the godfather of George Washington

“This myth-defying book tells how our first commander in chief dealt with the hard issues of war, including military commissions, the rights of Americans, and the interference of Congress. Those who want an unvarnished account of how a great leader handled nasty and messy problems of war: prepare to be shocked, amazed, and educated.”

Hon. Michael W. McConnell, Stanford Law School professor, director of the Stanford Constitutional Law Center, and former federal judge, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit

Library Journal
In a briskly paced work, Beirne (Olin Scholar, Yale Law Sch.) seeks to unpack the approaches to leadership that were employed in the founding of America as he explores the wartime executive powers and actions of George Washington. Did Washington's approach to military leadership influence his—and therefore later presidents'—attitudes to the presidential role of commander in chief? Beirne divides his work into six sections exploring different aspects of Washington's practical and philosophical views and his experiences with national security issues while serving as commander of the Revolutionary forces. (In his brief introduction and epilog, he draws explicit parallels to leadership challenges in a post-9/11 world.) Beirne writes about Washington's views and actions as leader in a way that is not overly parochial or dense, but he confuses terms, such as commander in chief, which cannot apply to Washington prior to his presidency, and regularly uses anachronisms. He further goes astray by veering into hagiography, presenting questionable leaps of logic, dubious stock characterizations of historical figures, and a general portrait of Washington as an infallible figure of perpetual and unquestionable wisdom, a characterization lacking nuance and detracting from Beirne's central narrative and conclusions. VERDICT This flawed study of Washington can only be recommended to those with a strong interest in studying the military leadership and history of the Revolutionary War period.—Ben Neal, Sullivan Cty. P.L., Bristol, TN

Read More

Product Details

Encounter Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
6.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.50(d)

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network


Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >