Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Life of Washington by Anna Reed

book cover

Life of Washington
by Anna Reed

Hardback: 290 pages
Publisher: Attic Books
Released: 2009

Source: Review copy from the publisher.

Book Description:
Anna C. Reed, niece of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, authored this biography of George Washington's life for the American Sunday-School Union. It was originally published in 1842 and then translated into over 20 languages within a few years. The book was among the most widely-read biographies of Washington of the time.

ASSU missionaries carried books published by the mission in saddlebags to leave with the fledgling Sunday schools they had started, promoting literacy, education, and the very best in Christian moral values.

This biography of George Washington covers his life from his childhood to his death and was written using his journals, letters, and other records.

Life of Washington is an interesting biography of George Washington from his birth (1732) to death (1799) that was written in 1842, not long after his death. There were many quotes from Washington's own journals and letters as well as from other people's journals and letters (comments about incidents involving Washington). It was very interesting to see his life based on his own words and those who knew him. The book used formal language, but it was very readable and written in a way that kept my attention. This was also partly because it brought out interesting and often exciting events in his life that I hadn't known about before.

The book spent about 45 pages on his early life (1732-1763), and most of that was new to me. There were about 145 pages on the events leading up to the Revolutionary War and the war itself. A fair amount of that was about the various battles and troop movements, but woven throughout were antidotes about how Washington treated his men, made decisions, and the "behind the (battle) scenes" efforts that he had to engage in. About 52 pages were about the forming of the Constitution and his election as President. Very little was said about what he did as President. The focus was more on how he conducted himself during that time. And about 16 pages were about his retirement, how he almost was called to service again, and his death. At the back of the book, there was a sample of "rules of proper conduct" that Washington had copied out as a child, the text of the Declaration of Independence, and a few other things about Washington.

Since the book was written for the American Sunday-School Union, it highlighted Washington's Christian faith and his admirable actions and morals. Since it was written by a niece of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, it's also patriotic (though not in a way that glorifies war). There were a few black and white drawings to illustrate the text. Overall, I'd recommend this book to those who enjoy biographies and who want a unique look into George Washington's life and his faith.

If you've read this book, what do you think about it? I'd be honored if you wrote your own opinion of the book in the comments.

Excerpt from page 25-26
...when [Washington] was nineteen years of age, he was appointed one of the adjunct generals of Virginia, with the rank of a major. At that time, the French nation had large settlements in Canada, and in Louisiana, and they determined on connecting those settlements by a line of forts; in doing this they took possession of a tract of land which was considered to be within the province of Virginia. The governor of Virginia (Mr. Dinwiddie) thought it was his duty to notice this, in the name of his king; and it was very important that the person whom he employed in the business should have resolution and prudence. Young Washington was worthy of his confidence and willingly undertook the perilous duty; as it gave him an opportunity of being actively employed for the advantage of his native province. The dangers which he knew he must meet did not, for a moment, deter hm from consenting to set out immediately on the toilsome journey, although winter was near. He was to take a letter from the governor to the commanding officer of the French troops, who were stationed on the Ohio river; and the way he had to go was through a part of this country that had never been furrowed by the plough or, indeed, marked by any footsteps but those of wild animals..."

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