While His Excellency is not a traditional biography, this book’s unoriginality is what makes it refreshing. The viewer can learn about George Washington as a real person, instead of a perfect figure society depicts him as. This book manages to explain Washington’s struggles and flaws while still showing appreciation and respect for the man. Joseph Ellis manages to express this with pure accuracy and years of backing up research. While the writing can be a bit complex at times, the dialog is still striking and keeps the reader pulled in.
The audience can learn how Washington’s practical personality traits and strength are what earned him the status of Our Founding Fathers. An almighty being did not accomplish the impossible and start this country, but a flawed human being named George Washington did. His Excellency is a short, versatile book that could appeal to a broad selection of readers. Whether the reader is an educated historian or someone who wants to learn about George Washington, it can appeal to many.
The viewer will learn about many shocking new facts on George Washington’s personal life. It is fascinating to learn how George Washington viewed slavery and how he handled the problem during this time-period. One of the positive aspects of this book is how brief it is. This book manages to tell Washington’s story without going into too much detail. However, at times Mr. Ellis could have used more detail explaining parts of the story. Ellis does not go into much detail on Washington’s younger years and it would be interesting from the reader’s perspective to learn about Our Founding Fathers as a child.
Joseph Ellis manages to tell the story with striking, impactful writing, for example, when he writes “If you aspire to live forever in the memory of future generations, you must demonstrate the ultimate self-confidence to leave the final judgement to them.” The idea that George Washington was not a perfect figure, but simply a man whose personality traits are what caused him to achieve greatness is a recurring theme. For instance, Ellis explains how due to Washington’s over-confident personality, he believed he could not die which made things fall into place during battle, he was “blessed with personal qualities that counted most in a protracted war.” One of the positive aspects of His Excellency is the fact that it has a neutral viewpoint throughout most of the book and is not biased.
For example, when Ellis mentions the argument between Alexander Hamilton and Thomas Jefferson, he explains both their harsh actions without being prejudice towards one side. Despite how this book is not biased, there are times when the reader will notice that Ellis puts his own opinion into the story. For example, when Mr. Ellis is explaining Madison and Jays argument for a federal veto over state laws, he claims that “No one could have received a better briefing on the arguments that would shape the political agenda of the Constitutional Convention.” While Mr. Ellis isn’t necessarily biased, he doesn’t hesitate to add his opinion and claim it as a fact. Unlike other books about George Washington, Ellis debunks many of his myths with extensive research, making this book very accurate.
Most biography’s will tell a falsified, positive story of our Founding Father. What’s strikingly refreshing about His Excellency is that it tells the hard truth about Washington and who he really was. Ellis does a fantastic job explaining how many common myths about him are not true. For instance, Joseph Ellis in detail explains the reality of Washington’s most famous sneak attack on The Delaware river. Ellis debunks the idea that Washington was standing in the boat prow and how many historians have pointed out it’s impossible, that “he would have been hurled headlong into the ice.” Washington is generally viewed as a religious man but Ellis points out how there is a possibility he never gave it much thought, rejecting another myth. Mr. Ellis explains how Washington only knew he was going into the ground during death and that “He died as a Roman stoic rather than a Christian saint.” The audience will learn how Washington was far from perfect during his time in Virginia leading battles. Ellis states that “He was not, by any standard a military genius. He lost more battles than he won; indeed, he lost more battles than any victorious general in modern history.”
Joseph Ellis does a fantastic job at telling George Washington’s story accurately and manages to stay away from over-glorifying the man while still appreciating his achievements. Since a lot of the writing is from Washington’s generation, it can sometimes be hard to comprehend. For the most part, Ellis manages to combine a fair level of modern day literature to make the dialog reasonably clear. There are some parts where the writing is over the top with well-articulated words, for instance when Ellis writes “More recent American history should allow us to comprehend more empathetically the reasons for fatal British miscalculation.” Despite the slight complexity in Ellis’s writing, the book manages to stay short and interesting.
Due to the book being very short, it hardly ever feels like it’s dragging on. His Excellency covers George Washington’s life from when he was a fierce 21-year-old to the day of his death. This book mostly covers Washington’s public life, using the resources of private letters to tell his story. There are brief hints of Washington’s personal life throughout the book as well. One of the main ideas that His Excellency goes on to explain is how George Washington conquered his victories through his strong determination. However, Ellis describes some of Washington’s flaws throughout the book, humanizing the man. The fact that Ellis went into detail on the negative aspects of Washington is what makes this book truly unique.
The audience can learn about Washington as a relatable human being who isn’t perfect, instead of a legend. One of the interesting parts of the book is how Washington viewed slavery. Giving credit to many historical figures Washington has come across, and how they impacted his life was another highlight. The book is very captivating, Ellis describes Washington’s experiences and how he handled situations while keeping the story brief. Joseph Ellis delivers a realistic narrative of George Washington’s life in the book His Excellency. Washington is viewed as an icon to modern society and many have a hard time relating to him. Ellis’s book perfectly turns Washington into a real human being, explaining his personal traits and flaws. This book dives into the struggles Washington faced and explains the impact our first president left. The reader can learn about Washington as a man, who was successful due to his confident, dominating personality and life experiences that shaped him.