The best books about or around George Washington

The Books I Picked & Why

The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret: George Washington, Slavery, and the Enslaved Community at Mount Vernon

By Mary V. Thompson

The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret: George Washington, Slavery, and the Enslaved Community at Mount Vernon

Why this book?

If Mary V. Thompson didn’t work at Mount Vernon, George Washington’s historic home and forced labor camp, we would still have plenty of books on the first president, but they wouldn't be nearly as good--or accurate. Every discovery an author has claimed or book that hit the bestseller list can be traced back to Thompson, and her latest book on slavery at Mount Vernon should be on every self-proclaimed history buff’s bookshelf.


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Founding Friendships: Friendships Between Men and Women in the Early American Republic

By Cassandra A. Good

Founding Friendships: Friendships Between Men and Women in the Early American Republic

Why this book?

“I am always yours” was not George Washington’s usual signoff. It was reserved for Elizabeth Willing Powel, a dear friend who often gets short shrift in Washington biographies. Cassandra Good’s book isn’t devoted to the General, but what's there can't be found anywhere else.


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Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution

By Nathaniel Philbrick

Valiant Ambition: George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the Fate of the American Revolution

Why this book?

Nathaniel Philbrick produces what we call “Dad History,” but despite that, I find this book on George Washington and Benedict Arnold’s relationship to be the most exciting out there. You’ll be surprised at how much they had in common, but their differences matter most.


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1774: The Long Year of Revolution

By Mary Beth Norton

1774: The Long Year of Revolution

Why this book?

George Washington didn’t sign the Declaration of Independence because he was already too busy fighting for it. Americans have become so focused on 1776, but the American Revolution was a long time coming. Mary Beth Norton does an excellent job of focusing on a pivotal year. 


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The Widow Washington: The Life of Mary Washington

By Martha Saxton

The Widow Washington: The Life of Mary Washington

Why this book?

Until Martha Saxton came along, Mary Ball Washington was much maligned by historians--but she’s no Mary Washington apologist. Saxton wrote the first comprehensive book on the first President’s mother with her eyes wide open and no one, not mother or son, gets away with anything.


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