The Life and Times of George Washington

Jonathan Horn chronicles the lasting influence of George Washington. Edward J. Larson considers the political dynamics of Colonial America. 

Horn, Jonathan. Washington’s End: The Final Years and Forgotten Struggle. Scribner. Feb. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9781501154232. $30. BIOG
Former White House speechwriter Horn ( The Man Who Would Not Be Washington) examines the last two years (1797-1799) of George Washington’s life, providing a portrait of a figure who still held political influence upon leaving office. The author is at his best when revealing the political dynamics of the Federalists as well as the Democratic-Republican Party founded by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison in the early 1790s. Bitterness and intrigue developed between political factions, which Washington warned about in his notable 1796 farewell address, and the former president’s stance of neutrality towards the French Revolution and the rise of Napoleon Bonaparte only added to the divide. Horn details the politician’s efforts to return to private life at Mount Vernon, and considers the role of slavery and Washington’s views on the institution. Of note is a fascinating section on how Washington influenced the development of his namesake city: Washington, DC.
VERDICT An outstanding biographical work on one of America’s most prominent leaders. Highly recommended for those who want to better understand the early republic.—Jacob ­Sherman, John Peace Lib., Univ. of Texas at San Antonio

Larson, Edward J. Franklin & Washington: The Founding Partnership. Morrow. Feb. 2020. 352p. ISBN 9780062880154. $29.99. BIOG
Benjamin Franklin and George Washington were pivotal leaders of America’s journey to independence and the creation of a republic. Their association spanned three decades, from 1756 to the constitutional convention of 1787. They represented two powerful colonies; Franklin for Pennsylvania and Washington for Virginia. Each became renowned beyond the boundaries of their homes, as they shared qualities of temperament: patience, judgment, curiosity. Their talents and skills lay in different areas, but complemented each other. Neither was born into wealth, but their contributions in their time were consequential centuries after their deaths. Larson’s (history, Pepperdine Univ.; Summer for the Gods) dual biography does not convey a close friendship, but tells a tale of an associative partnership which occurred at intervals during those three decades, whenever significant events of colonial or national consequence required their involvement.
VERDICT A well-written account for readers interested in two key figures of the American Revolution. Based on primary and secondary sources, this well-researched work tells the story of a significant relationship of the era.—Glen Edward Taul, formerly with Campbellsville Univ., KY

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