The best George Washington books 📚

Browse the best books on George Washington as recommended by authors, experts, and creators. Along with notes on why they recommend those books.

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Book cover of Washington: A Life

Washington: A Life

By Ron Chernow

Why this book?

I find Ron Chernow’s biography to be the most informative and comprehensive. It is quite a tome at over 800 pages, but worth the read. Chernow has fascinating insights into his character. Washington had a temper that he sought to control. Even in that, he made an impression on people. From the introduction of the book, “His contemporaries admired him not because he was a plaster saint or an empty uniform but because they sensed his unseen power.”

We see Washington develop over his life from early childhood. The loss of his father at age eleven brought him closer to…

From the list:

The most transformative history books with a fresh look into the past

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

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

By Cassandra A. Good

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.

From the list:

The best books about or around George Washington

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Book cover of General George Washington: A Military Life

General George Washington: A Military Life

By Edward G. Lengel

Why this book?

Washington historian Edward G. Lengel's book focuses only on his life in the military. George Washington begins his military career at age 21 in 1753 with the colonial rank of Major. He was sent by the governor of Virginia to deliver a letter to the French commander of a fort that was on property contested by the King of England. Washington and a small party traveled the wilds of the Ohio Country, modern-day western Pennsylvania. In this epic journey, young Washington almost loses his life twice. Washington is later involved in the first skirmish of the French and Indian War.…

From the list:

The most transformative history books with a fresh look into the past

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

The Widow Washington: The Life of Mary Washington

By Martha Saxton

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.

From the list:

The best books about or around George Washington

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Book cover of The First American Army: The Untold Story of George Washington and the Men Behind America's First Fight for Freedom

The First American Army: The Untold Story of George Washington and the Men Behind America's First Fight for Freedom

By Bruce Chadwick

Why this book?

The new national Congress of the United States had to invent both a government and a military to defend it on the fly in 1776. Militias had been around for decades, encouraged and supported to varying degrees by colonial, later state, governments. Before and after the creation of a regular “Continental” army, militia units were chartered by the thirteen states. The soon-to-be self-declared fourteenth state of Vermont also had militia regiments, and these also played important roles at Saratoga.

Some members of Congress thought that the creation of a regular army was dangerous and unnecessary, but Washington and his supporters…

From the list:

The best books about the 1777 Saratoga campaign (American Revolution)

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Book cover of A Call to Heroism: Renewing America's Vision of Greatness

A Call to Heroism: Renewing America's Vision of Greatness

By Peter H. Gibbon

Why this book?

Peter Gibbon has, at an emotional level, a magnificent capacity to admire heroes.  He provides snippets of many heroes’ lives and he savors their accomplishments. One of the most effective aspects of his book is his rejection of the modern anti-hero mentality that disparages heroes. “Biography today is rarely about greatness,” he writes. “At best, it displays a dispassionate balance. More often, it focuses on failure…and weakness and unveils the intimate life—slighting artistic accomplishment, scientific discovery, and political achievement. At worst, contemporary biographers self-righteously excoriate any hint of impurity, prejudice, sexism, or hypocrisy.” 

Unfortunately, a la many authors on the…

From the list:

The best books to celebrate heroes and heroism

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