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We remember George Washington as an austere figure standing in a rowboat crossing the icy Delaware River. We forget that he was ever a reluctant leader. It is even harder to imagine him wallowing in sentiment or advising teenagers on love and marriage. Despite his legendary stature, Washington did display raw emotion, seldom in public but often in the privacy of his diary. Paul M. Zall uses Washington's own words to restore him as an uncommon man subject to common human weakness. From an early age, Washington was determined to earn the respect of both peers and followers. No orator, he sought to secure his place in history through meticulously kept records. His words reveal how he forged his character on the frontier of his youth, tested it in the Revolution, and cemented it in the nation's founding. Combining Washington's personal diaries, journals, letters, and other sources, Washington on Washington offers a fresh perspective on one of the most enigmatic figures in American history.
" For most Americans, George Washington is more of a legend than a man -- a face on our currency or an austere figure standing in a rowboat crossing the icy Delaware River. He was equally revered in his own time. At the helm of a country born of idealism and revolution, Washington reluctantly played the role of demigod that the new nation required -- a role reconciling the rhetoric of democracy with the ritual of monarchy. Washington quickly understood that every decision he made as president would be analyzed, criticized, and emulated. "There is scarcely any part of my conduct which may not hereafter be drawn into precedent," he said. In his own words, Washington describes himself as a poor orator and an uncomfortable leader, a man more at ease in his private gardens than at the center of America's trust and adoration. Plagued by doubts about his education and abilities, Washington developed self-discipline that to others seemed superhuman. Washington on Washington offers a fresh and human perspective on this enigmatic figure in American history. Drawing on diary entries, journals, letters, and authentic interviews, Paul M. Zall presents the autobiography that Washington never lived to write, revealing new insights into his character, both personal and political.