“The Ascent of George Washington” is prolific author John Ferling’s tenth book (of eleven thus far) and was published in 2009. He is a professor emeritus of history and has written extensively on the revolutionary era as well as many of those who figured so prominently in its history.
The somewhat contentious tone of his book is quickly established when Ferling points out that he fundamentally disagrees with the prevailing view of our first president as a “nonpolitical” super-hero who sought to rise above the fray as president. Instead, he portrays Washington as an aggressively self-interested, highly political figure who essentially did whatever he had to in order to “get ahead.”
Ferling’s anti-hero cadence remains steady throughout the book, but is not entirely without merit. It is undeniable that Washington energetically took advantage of most of the opportunities that destiny presented and, like many successful individuals, often made his own luck. Among other things, he…
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