Patriarch: George Washington and the New American Nation

Overview

A dramatic portrait of George Washington's presidential years, Patriarch is a gripping story of politics and statecraft. Smith describes Washington's struggle to preside over the bitter feud between Jefferson and Hamilton—two brilliant members of his cabinet—while attempting to distinguish the first presidency.

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Overview

A dramatic portrait of George Washington's presidential years, Patriarch is a gripping story of politics and statecraft. Smith describes Washington's struggle to preside over the bitter feud between Jefferson and Hamilton—two brilliant members of his cabinet—while attempting to distinguish the first presidency.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
George Washington's ascent to the presidency of the new republic was at once a personal triumph and a great gamble with something he held most dear--his reputation. Smith (director, Hoover Library) captures well the bittersweet presidential years, when Washington used the vast capital of his personal prestige to cement the bands of a shaky union. With wonderful use of detail and anecdote, Smith argues that Washington was not the mere figurehead that other historians have portrayed but a canny politician who mastered and controlled his brilliant subordinates, Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson. In a lively and engaging style, the author describes Washington's world in New York, Philadelphia, and Mt. Vernon and the major policy issues of the 1790s, especially the vituperative politics of the era. If Norton is not always careful with detail and his chronology is sometimes confusing, this is, nonetheless, history painted in broad strokes with vivid characterization, sure to attract a general readership. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 10/15/92.-- David B. Mattern, Univ. of Virginia, Charlottesville
Gilbert Taylor
From the depths of his present-day popular perception as a Polonius-like pronouncer of platitudes, Washington's humanizing elements are raised up by Smith. An able biographer of Herbert Hoover and Thomas Dewey , here he enters the familiar territory marked out by the separate multivolume biographies of Douglas Freeman and James Flexner. Limiting his subject to the presidential years, Smith compiles his narrative from stories of Washington's household, his public appearances (which enables Smith to introduce the local color of 1790s New York, Philadelphia, and the South), and what today would be termed Washington's "decision-making style." That style still strikes an austere blend of fealty to duty and disdain for self-interest. Yet, even though Smith emphasizes Washington's less lofty attributes such as his political acumen, the guy remains as wooden as his dentures. What is not achieved in revisionist intent, however, is approached by a lively linkage of the known anecdotes about Jefferson, Hamilton, Jay, the Whiskey Rebellion, foreign affairs, and the husbandry of Mount Vernon. For libraries with neither Freeman nor Flexner.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781419325762
  • Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
  • Publication date: 1/17/2005

Meet the Author

Richard Norton Smith is the author ofThomas E. Dewey and His Times and biographies of George Washington and Herbert Hoover. A distinguished political speechwriter, he has worked especially closely with Bob and Elizabeth Dole, with whom he collaborated on their best-selling memoir Unlimited Partners. The director of the Gerald R. Ford Museum and Library, he lives in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

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