The best books about or around George Washington

Who am I?

Alexis Coe is a presidential historian and the New York Times bestselling author of You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington, which was also Audible’s best history book of 2020 and Barnes and Nobel's nonfiction Book of the Month. She was a producer and appeared in Doris Kearns Goodwin's Washington series on the History Channel.


I wrote...

You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington

By Alexis Coe,

Book cover of You Never Forget Your First: A Biography of George Washington

What is my book about?

Young George Washington was raised by a struggling single mother, demanded military promotions, caused an international incident, and never backed down--even when his dysentery got so bad he had to ride with a cushion on his saddle. But after he married Martha, everything changed. Washington became the kind of man who named his dog Sweetlips and hated to leave home. He took up arms against the British only when there was no other way, though he lost more battles than he won.

With irresistible style and warm humor, You Never Forget Your First combines rigorous research and lively storytelling that will have readers--including those who thought presidential biographies were just for dads--inhaling every page.

The books I picked & why

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

By Mary V. Thompson,

Book cover of 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.


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

By Cassandra A. Good,

Book cover of 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.


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

By Nathaniel Philbrick,

Book cover of 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.


1774: The Long Year of Revolution

By Mary Beth Norton,

Book cover of 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. 


The Widow Washington: The Life of Mary Washington

By Martha Saxton,

Book cover of 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.


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in George Washington, the American Revolution, and slaves?

5,309 authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about George Washington, the American Revolution, and slaves.

George Washington Explore 33 books about George Washington
The American Revolution Explore 72 books about the American Revolution
Slaves Explore 55 books about slaves

And, 3 books we think you will enjoy!

We think you will like The First American Army, George vs. George, and Washington's Crossing if you like this list.