The Best George Washington Biographies
Schoolchildren may delight in the fable of our first president’s confession of arborcide, but for more serious scholars, George Washington has proved an irresistibly elusive subject. Despite leaving behind enough papers to fill 87 volumes (and counting), Washington revealed little of himself as a man in his writing, leaving plenty of blank spaces for biographers to fill in according to their prejudices and predilections. And the public’s appetite for scraps of gossip and insight about GW has not waned since his first biographer, Mason Weems, predicted his 1799 life of Washington would ‘sell like flaxseed’ (presumably the hot cakes of the 18th century). Since then, nearly every biographer and historian has taken a shot at old George, earning several Pulitzers for their efforts along the way.