Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Book Review: "Becoming George Washington" by Stephen Yochs

George Washington, action hero . . .
Long before Washington was the old man on the dollar bill, he was a fatherless boy with few resources and even less education. So how did he become the most famous person in American history?
Becoming George Washington tells the story of a young man with boundless energy, bravery, and passion, who grew from a fatherless boy into a self-confident leader. At the same time, he struggled to suppress both an awful temper and his love for a married woman, Sally Fairfax. A courageous war hero, Washington rose to the pinnacle of Virginia politics. His experiences as a young man allowed him, decades later, to lead the Revolution.
This compelling historical novel reveals the person behind the famous face and how he grew to become America’s leading Founding Father.

I want to put this out there right at the get-go, this isn't an origin story of the "Abraham Lincoln Vampire Slayer" variety. It's about real George Washington and what he really did in the years before he before he became our nation's first president. It's kind of interesting, because I never really thought about any other version of George Washington besides the presidential one. (Though there is this one YouTube video that got a lot of play in our apartment senior year in college...) Anyway....

George Washington was not a rich kid from a rich family. You know gentlemen farmers? He wasn't that, he was an actual farmer. His mother was um, a negative, imposing, unmovable force in his life. His dad was dead. But he had two older brothers - Austin and Lawrence (he was especially close with Lawrence) and a close, well-connected family friend who loved and supported him like he was one of his own children. Through lots of hard work and perseverance George gained success as a surveyor, and then later as a military man.

The talks about is treks from Virginia to Ohio sound treacherous and awful and dangerous and cold...which it was all of those things. And that doesn't even begin to cover angry Native Americans and Frenchmen. But through all of these trials, George earns his stripes. Even though he is plagued by self doubt and self consciousness about his humble beginnings and his homely appearance. (It's also kind of funny because he goes through all of this stuff and moves through the ranks and it's like "oh yeah he's only 22...because people died by 45...kind of a lot.")

One thing that happened to George (and a lot of other people) that I thought was kind of sad was that you work and fight for the Crown for years and then when American begins to struggle for her independence you could find yourself on the opposite side of the battlefield as men that you may have served with previously.

This book moved at a pretty steady clip, and if you are interested in: George Washington, early America, Virginia, or the like I think you will like this book!

About the Author

Steve doesn’t golf or fish and is a below average hunter, but his love of history and writing compelled him to pick up his pen and tell the little-known stories behind the men that made American history. After years of extensive research, Steve wrote his first book on young George Washington.
Steve lives in a suburb north of St. Paul, Minnesota with his supportive wife and two fantastic teenage sons. He graduated with honors from Boston College and the University of Minnesota Law School. He has enjoyed over two decades of practicing law in the Twin Cities, helping individuals and businesses solve complex problems.

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