Advance Praise for
GEORGE WASHINGTON’S FIRST WAR
“A wonderful book on George Washington before he became an American icon. In lucid and gripping prose, Clary chronicles Colonel Washington in the French and Indian War, showing his glory-seeking imprudence and numerous—and sometimes monumental—errors. But Clary also demonstrates how young Colonel Washington learned from his mistakes, so that he was better prepared for the challenges he faced during the Revolutionary War. This not only is one of the better books on the French and Indian War, it is perhaps the best book on George Washington during that war.”
John Ferling, author of The Ascent of George Washington
“In the 1750s the Ohio Valley was as strange as Afghanistan. George Washington’s First War shows the confusion and cross-purposes of a world war waged on the frontier, and the steep learning curve of a twenty-something who would become (but was not yet) our first great warrior.”
Richard Brookhiser, author of Founding Father
“Clary’s portrait of the young George Washington is a revelation, offering incredible insights into the great Virginian as military thinker. A marvelous historical accomplishment. Highly recommended!”
—Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History at Rice University and author of The
“With drama and insight, David Clary lays out the suspenseful coming-of-age tale of George Washington’s determined march from callow youth to eventual glory.”
A. J. Langguth, author of Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution
“This ripsnorting tale traces the adventures—really, the misadventures—of a raw, striving, sometimes bewildered and often overwhelmed George Washington. Through his fast-paced, deeply informative tale of hard lessons learned, David Clary shows that in his youth our ‘indispensable man’ was almost anything but. Humanizing, exciting, Clary’s story delves into matters all too often glossed over in biographies of the Great General, reminding us of weaknesses from which sprang President Washington’s mature strengths.”
William Hogeland, author of Declaration and The Whiskey Rebellion
“A well-written and well-informed portrait of a young and untried George Washington struggling against enormous challenges to come of age both as a soldier and a man. Washington emerges from his first war not yet the leader he will become, but watching him mature during these early years helps us understand and appreciate him all the more.”
Walter R. Borneman, author of The French and Indian War
A popular historian unblinkingly assesses the military exploits of the young George Washington.
By 1759, Washington, as the newly appointed major of the Virginia militia, had already acted as the governor's emissary to the Ohio Country, delivering an ultimatum to French traders; presided over a confused and bloody incident at Jumonville Glen that ignited a global war; suffered a humiliating defeat, surrendering Fort Necessity to the French; and distinguished himself as "the hero of the Monongahela" for organizing the retreat of the slain Gen. Edward Braddock's army, an unprecedented disaster for the British military. As the Virginia Regiment's commander in chief, he was also charged with protecting the colony's frontier as the French and Indian War proceeded, and he had played a tangential role in the "conquest" of Fort Duquesne, resigning his commission afterward to marry Virginia's richest widow and assume a seat in the House of Burgesses. He was 26 years old. Clary (Eagles and Empire: The United States, Mexico, and the Struggle for a Continent, 2009, etc.) convincingly demonstrates that in this first, crowded chapter of his military career, the boy colonel was overmatched. Given delicate responsibilities and little guidance by superiors who should have known better, Washington responded energetically, eager to prove himself. Ferociously ambitious, he lobbied for rank and angled for positions he had no business filling. Whether as surveyor, planter or military man, Washington, for the most part, educated himself. Out of this peculiar isolation and youthful insecurity, he tended to bend the truth, to evade or shift responsibility and to criticize superiors. Obsessed with honor, he fretted about public opinion, afraid of being blamed for failure. Clary ascribes these failings not to incompetence, but rather to youth. Fortunately for his country, a seasoned General Washington learned from his adolescent mistakes.
A sharp, warts-and-all portrait of the soldier as a young man.