George Washington The American Presidents Series: The 1st President, 1789-1797

The American Presidents

James MacGregor Burns and Susan Dunn; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

Times Books

0805069364

9780805069365

Hardcover

208 Pages

$25.00

CAD29.00

Request Desk Copy Request Exam Copy
Wealthy Virginia planter, revolutionary general, and founding president, George Washington was the most illustrious public man of his time, a man whose image today still reflects his own careful shaping of his persona.

As president, Washington built almost unimpeded power into the executive branch, not only occupying the office but virtually conquering it. And yet his was by no means a one-man presidency. James MacGregor Burns and Susan Dunn demonstrate that Washington built a collective leadership never to be surpassed in American history. He succeeded brilliantly in creating a strong sense of national unity while failing markedly in trying to foster political unity, believing that it was possible to dissolve political differences and banish opposition. His moral legacy would also be mixed, for he feared that discussions of slavery would threaten the survival of the young republic. But in the end the presidency itself would be his ultimate achievement; it would undergird every future president who would seek to offer strong and determined leadership.

As a public figure Washington could be difficult to decipher. At key moments in his life he seemed to want to shun the spotlight, disquieted by the responsibilities of power. He dreaded his inauguration, announcing that he felt like "a culprit going to the place of his execution." And yet he always happened to be in the right place at the right time. Burns and Dunn probe behind his virtuoso performance of self-effacement and discover a supremely ambitious man determined to be at the center of events.

In this thoughtful and incisive biography, Burns and Dunn dissect the strengths and weaknesses of Washington's presidential leadership, from his lasting foreign and economic policies to his polarizing denunciation of political parties and his public silence about slavery. The result is a surprising portrait of the multidimensional man behind the myth he so assiduously crafted.

REVIEWS

Reviews from Goodreads

BACK

BOOK EXCERPTS

Read an Excerpt

James MacGregor Burns is the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Williams College. He is the author of numerous books, including the Pulitzer Prize–winning Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom. Susan Dunn is a professor of literature at Williams College and author of many books, including The Three Roosevelts (with Burns). Burns and Dunn live in Williamstown, Massachusettes.
Read the full excerpt
BACK

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • James MacGregor Burns and Susan Dunn; Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr., General Editor

  • James MacGregor Burns is the Woodrow Wilson Professor of Political Science Emeritus at Williams College and a senior scholar at the Jepson School of Leadership Studies at the University of Richmond. He is the author of numerous books, including Transforming Leadership, Roosevelt: The Lion and the Fox, and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Roosevelt: The Soldier of Freedom. Burns lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

    Susan Dunn is Professor of Humanities at Williams College. She is the author of many books, including Sister Revolutions and The Three Roosevelts (with James MacGregor Burns). Dunn also lives in Williamstown, Massachusetts.

    Series editor Arthur M. Schlesinger, Jr. is arguably the preeminent political historian of our time. For more than half a century, he has been a cornerstone figure in the intellectual life of the nation and a fixture on the political scene. He served as special assistant to John F. Kennedy; won two Pulitzer Prizes for The Age of Jackson (1946) and A Thousand Days (1966); and in 1998 received the National Humanities Medal. He published the first volume of his autobiography, A Life in the Twentieth Century, in 2000.
BACK