In the wide, wide world of books on George Washington, there’s literal libraries full of works exploring the General’s life. To help fellow lovers of history and great books, we’ve put together a list of our favorites.
From his early military career to his time as the first president of the United States, these titles will give you a comprehensive overview of Washington’s life and times. Plus, they’re all enjoyable reads!
1. You Never Forget Your First
Alexis Coe’s You Never Forget Your First is a charming and funny look at one woman’s quest to find the perfect George Washington biography.
Poe is a gifted storyteller, and she weaves together her own search for the right book with an insightful history of our nation’s first president. Along the way, she examines the many different ways that George Washington books have portrayed the man, from heroic to flawed.
Ultimately, she comes to the conclusion that the best George Washington biography is the one that resonates most with the reader. Whether you’re looking for a laugh-out-loud read or a thought-provoking look at American history, You Never Forget Your First is definitely worth picking up.
2. Young Washington: How Wilderness and War Forged America’s Founding Father
When it comes to biographies of George Washington, there are certainly no shortage of options. However, in his book Young Washington, Peter Stark offers a fresh and unique perspective on the life of America’s first president.
Drawing on George’s letters and diaries, Stark paints a vivid picture of Washington’s early years, from his upbringing in colonial Virginia to his military career during the French and Indian War. In addition, Stark provides new insights into Washington’s character, revealing a man who was not always the confident and decisive leader that he is often portrayed as.
As a result, Young Washington is an essential read for anyone interested in getting a deeper understanding of one of America’s most iconic figures.
3. George Washington’s Surprise Attack: A New Look at the Battle That Decided the Fate of America
George Washington’s Surprise Attack: A New Look at the Battle That Decided the Fate of America takes a fresh look at one of the most important battles in American history.
The book challenges the traditional view of the battle, and instead argues that it was George Washington’s surprise attack that ultimately decided the fate of the nation.
In addition to providing a new perspective on the battle, the book also includes previously unreleased documents and eyewitness accounts that help to support its argument.
If you’re interested in learning more about one of the most pivotal moments in American history, then George Washington’s Surprise Attack is definitely a book worth checking out.
4. Washington: A Life
If you’re looking for a good book about George Washington, you can’t go wrong with Ron Chernow’s Washington: A Life.
Chernow is a Pulitzer Prize-winning biographer, and he definitely brings his A-game to this book. It’s an exhaustive (but never boring) look at Washington’s life, from his childhood in Virginia to his military career to his time as president. And Chernow doesn’t shy away from the difficult moments in Washington’s life, like his involvement in the slave trade or his sometimes strained relationship with his wife, Martha.
If you want to learn more about our Founding Father, you won’t go wrong with Chernow.
Even though this isn’t, strictly speaking, a book about George Washington, I can’t miss an opportunity to plug David McCullough, one of my all time favorite writers.
1776 by David McCullough is one of the most popular books about the American Revolution. It tells the story of George Washington and the Continental Army as they battle the British for independence.
The book is full of fascinating details about the war, and it also paints a vivid portrait of life in 18th-century America. Best of all, it helps readers to understand why the fight for independence was so important.
If you’re looking for George Washington books that are both informative and enjoyable, 1776 is a great choice.
6. General George Washington: A Military Life
Edward G. Lengel’s George Washington: A Military Life is one of the most comprehensive and well-researched biographies of our nation’s first commander-in-chief.
Lengel does an impressive job of not only chronicling Washington’s military career, but also providing insights into his motivations and thought processes. The result is a detailed and nuanced portrait of a complex man. In addition to providing a thorough account of Washington’s military exploits, Lengel also sheds light on his private life, including his relationships with his wife and family.
This addition to the list of George Washington books is essential reading for anyone interested in learning more about His Excellency.
7. Washington’s Crossing
Washington’s Crossing is one of the most famous and well-known episodes of the Revolutionary War.
In December of 1776, George Washington and his troops crossed the Delaware River in a surprise attack on the Hessian army stationed in Trenton, New Jersey. The victory was a much-needed morale boost for the Continental Army, and it helped to turn the tide of the war in favor of the Americans.
Fischer’s book is a comprehensive and gripping account of the event, drawing on a wealth of primary sources to paint a vivid picture of what life was like for both Washington and his troops during that fateful winter.
Fischer’s clear prose makes Washington’s Crossing an enjoyable and accessible read for both history buffs and general readers alike.
8. His Excellency: George Washington
In His Excellency: George Washington, Joseph J. Ellis does an excellent job of humanizing Washington, painting a picture of a man who was far from perfect but who always had the best interests of his country at heart.
The book covers Washington’s entire life, from his childhood in Virginia to his time as a General during the Revolutionary War to his eight years as President. Along the way, Ellis provides readers with fascinating insights into Washington’s character and how he helped to shape the course of American history.
This is an essential read for anyone interested in learning more about our Founding Father.
9. Washington’s Circle
Washington’s Circle by David S. Heidler and Jeanne T. Heidler that explores the relationships between George Washington and the members of his inner circle.
The book delves into the dynamics of these relationships, and how they impacted Washington’s decisions as president. In particular, the book looks at the role that Alexander Hamilton played in shaping Washington’s presidency.
The book is well-researched and provides insights into the characters of both Washington and Hamilton. It is an enjoyable read for anyone interested in American history.
10. Washington’s Revolution: The Making of America’s First Leader
Washington’s Revolution: The Making of America’s First Leader is about, well, exactly what the title says. Author Robert Middlekauff details George Washington’s formative years and how they led him to becoming the first leader of the United States of America.
Unlike many other books about Washington, Middlekauff’s focus is more on Washington the man than on his military exploits. This allows readers to get a better understanding of what drove him and what shaped his character. Even if you’re not particularly interested in American history, this is a book that is sure to please.
It’s well-written and thoroughly researched, and it provides a fresh perspective on one of America’s most iconic figures.
11. Travel’s With George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy
Travel’s With George chronicles Philbrick’s travels across the country in search of places associated with George Washington. He visits Mount Vernon, Washington’s home in Virginia, before making his way to New York, New England, and then back down south to the Carolinas and Georgia.
Along the way, he interviews historians and other experts on Washington, and he shares their insights in the book. Philbrick also provides his own thought-provoking commentary on Washington and his legacy.
This is a must-read for anyone interested in American history.
12. The Return of George Washington: 1783-1789 by Edward Larson
In The Return of George Washington, Edward Larson explores Washington’s return to public life after the Revolutionary War. Though he had originally planned to retire from politics, Washington was persuaded to attend the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia. There, he played a crucial role in shaping the new government.
After the Constitution was ratified, Washington was unanimously elected as the first President of the United States. He served for two terms, setting a precedent of peaceful transfer of power. In addition to his political accomplishments, Washington is also remembered for his Farewell Address, in which he warned against partisan divisions and called for national unity.
The Return of George Washington is a fascinating look at one of the most important figures in American history, and a great addition to your collection of George Washington books.
13. An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America
George Washington is one of the most important figures in American history. As the first president of the United States, he played a crucial role in shaping the young nation. However, Washington was also a slaveowner, and his complicated relationship with slavery is explored in An Imperfect God: George Washington, His Slaves, and the Creation of America by Henry Wiencek.
Wiencek paints a comprehensive picture of Washington’s views on slavery, both personal and political. He discusses how Washington dealt with slaves on his own plantations and how he navigated the issue as president. The book also sheds light on the lives of individual slaves, giving readers a glimpse into their day-to-day life.
An Imperfect God is a fascinating look at one of America’s founding fathers. It’s an essential read for anyone interested in the history of slavery and its place in early America.