As our nation’s first (and in many ways most revered) President, it is no surprise there are a tremendous number of good biographies on George Washington. Joseph J. Ellis, Ron Chernow and James Thomas Flexner have authored some of the most popular (and highly-regarded) works, but I also plan to read the books by John Ferling and Richard Norton Smith in order to sample something ever so slightly “off the beaten path.”
In the end, I suspect all of the more contemporary works on Washington will deserve comparison to James Flexner’s original four-volume series on Washington (in terms of content though possibly not style) which was written in the late 1960s and early 1970s. By most accounts, this quartet offers the most detailed analysis of Washington’s life and one of the most penetrating. Flexner’s single-volume abridgment based on his earlier works was published in 1974, and is the only work on Washington I’ve already read (it was excellent, by the way).
With all that in mind, I plan to begin by reading Flexner’s four-volume series.
Here we go…