Wednesday, May 4, 2011


By Paul Vickery and Stephen Mansfield. Thomas Nelson Publishers.

Vickery and Mansfield endeavor to portray something of Washington's character while also providing a play-by-play of the military and political situation. The authors are at their best describing the hard work America's first president faced as a young man when clearing thick brush, facing bitter cold and unfriendly tribes, and dealing with the French. These early military forays in which Washington took part trained him for leadership, for military operations under exceedingly stark and sparse conditions, and for the mental challenges he would face as commander of the Continental Army.

The author's discussion of the social habits of the time open a world to readers unfamiliar with such a polite, often hierarchical society. Washington would not even open a letter from the British if it did not address him properly, according to his military rank.

While the authors do not place faith front-and-center, they do show how the Christian belief common to all in the Colonies was used by Congress and the military leadership to help mould Americans into a nation. Washington often felt frustrated by the lack of patriotism, and battled against conscripts who left as soon as their duty expired, returning to their colonies rather than fight for the fledgling nation.

One of Washington's greatest triumphs, the book shows, was to turn this scraggly army into a more professional fighting force.

This is an excellent introduction to a most important American.

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