Richard Brookhiser remarks, and laments, that George Washington is no longer first in the hearts of his countrymen. Brookhiser’s aim is to restore him in our hearts by way of our minds, an aim that if accomplished would better both our hearts and minds. His book is concise, deft in style, and animated with thought in every sentence. It is, the author says, moral biography in the mode of Plutarch. Its material is history and moral and political philosophy, but it is more practical than either because we are led to see things from Washington’s point of view and thus to understand not so much his time, or the forces impinging on him, or the theories implicitly adopted by him, as his choices. The result is a wonderful success.

Brookhiser is not a historian, but he is a reproach to historians and to moral philosophers and academics generally. He uses the multi-volume biographies written by Douglas Southal Freeman and James Thomas...


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