Sunday, January 9, 2011

Inventing George Washington Was A Painful Experience

N.B. I have based this review on an uncorrected proof copy of "Inventing George Washington" by Edward G Lengel, so the contents of the final print may be different in parts that are quoted here. 

Inventing George Washington by Edward G Lengel was a bad reading experience, I'm afraid.   I'll start what little I have to say about this book with this quotation from the preface of the book.

".....Although many excellent books about the founder and his era have been published in recent years, there are few-precious few-that do not include, usually inadvertently, some elements of mythology both vintage and modern.   Washington apocrypha has become so thoroughly entangled in history and folklore that it is often impossible to identify, let alone disprove.

     This book does not aspire to peel away these layers of myth and restore the "authentic" Washington to our view. Instead, it looks at Washington myths, and mythmakers, and traces the mean by which they have defined and redefined the Founder from the beginning of the nineteenth  century up to present day. ..."

Well, the book more or less does what its author says it does, but why does it have to do just that? I mean, we read about a significant person to learn from, be inspired by, and be motivated by that person as well as to enjoy that person's life as a story. But Inventing  George Washington offered me none of that. But any way, don't be biased by my review, read it and come to your own conclusion, and better yet, tell me about how you felt about the book.         
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