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.

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The books I picked & why

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

Why did I love 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.

By Mary V. Thompson,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

George Washington's life has been scrutinized by historians over the past three centuries, but the day-to-day lives of Mount Vernon's enslaved workers, who left few written records but made up 90 percent of the estate's population, have been largely left out of the story.

In ""The Only Unavoidable Subject of Regret,"" Mary Thompson offers the first comprehensive account of those who served in bondage at Mount Vernon. Drawing on years of research in a wide range of sources, Thompson brings to life the lives of Washington's slaves while illuminating the radical change in his views on slavery and race wrought…

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

Why did I love 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.

By Cassandra A. Good,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Founding Friendships as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"When Harry Met Sally" is only the most iconic of popular American movies, books, and articles that pose the question of whether friendships between men and women are possible. In Founding Friendships, Cassandra A. Good shows that this question was embedded in and debated as far back as the birth of the American nation. Indeed, many of the nation's founding fathers had female friends but popular rhetoric held that these relationships were fraught with
social danger, if not impossible.

Elite men and women formed loving, politically significant friendships in the early national period that were crucial to the individuals' lives…

Valiant Ambition

By Nathaniel Philbrick,

Book cover of Valiant Ambition

Why did I love 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.

By Nathaniel Philbrick,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Valiant Ambition as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A New York Times Bestseller
Winner of the George Washington Prize

A surprising account of the middle years of the American Revolution and the tragic relationship between George Washington and Benedict Arnold, from the New York Times bestselling author of In The Heart of the Sea, Mayflower, and In the Hurricane's Eye.

"May be one of the greatest what-if books of the age-a volume that turns one of America's best-known narratives on its head."-Boston Globe

"Clear and insightful, [Valiant Ambition] consolidates Philbrick's reputation as one of America's foremost practitioners of narrative nonfiction."-Wall Street Journal

In the second book of his…

Book cover of 1774: The Long Year of Revolution

Why did I love 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. 

By Mary Beth Norton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked 1774 as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

From one of our most acclaimed and original colonial historians, a groundbreaking book tracing the critical "long year" of 1774 and the revolutionary change that took place from the Boston Tea Party and the First Continental Congress to the Battles of Lexington and Concord.


In this masterly work of history, the culmination of more than four decades of research and thought, Mary Beth Norton looks at the sixteen months leading up to the clashes at Lexington and Concord in mid-April 1775. This was the critical, and often overlooked, period when colonists…

Book cover of The Widow Washington: The Life of Mary Washington

Why did I love 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.

By Martha Saxton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Widow Washington as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Widow Washington is the first life of Mary Ball Washington, George Washington's mother, based on archival sources. Her son's biographers have, for the most part, painted her as self-centered and crude, a trial and an obstacle to her son. But the records tell a very different story. Mary Ball, the daughter of a wealthy planter and a formerly indentured servant, was orphaned very young and grew up in an atmosphere of work, frugality, and piety. She married the older planter Augustine Washington and had five children with him before his death eleven years later. As a widow deprived of…

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

9,000+ 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 51 books about George Washington
The American Revolution Explore 206 books about the American Revolution
Slaves Explore 89 books about slaves