"A daring book . . . a terrific story and Lewis tells it with rare narrative skill . . . a superb writer, with a startling command of the historian's art and a powerful interest in the moral aspects that history has always claimed. He also has in the young George Washington a subject of unfailing centrality and importance. His flaws, like those of any human figure worth his salt and worth our time, constitute the ground of his enduring human achievements." — Los Angeles Times Book Review
"The story is compelling and Lewis tells it well." — Library Journal
"Gracefully and attractively written." — Chicago Tribune
Five star customer review posted on Amazon.com:
This is by far the best biography of the early years of the life of George Washington I have ever read. Lewis gives us not only a brilliant introduction to young Colonel George Washington, but also a vivid analysis of the period of the French and Indian War, including the people, places, and circumstances of the conflict.
The book first gives a background on an adolecent Washington and his boyhood adventures as a surveyor in western Virginia. We learn how he grew up admiring the wealth and lifestyle of his aristocratic neighbors, the Fairfaxes, and how he began a long journey to emmulate them and to be a part of their privileged world. However, Washington's own ambitions pull him in other directions as he becomes deeply involved in the brewing storm of events that would culminate with the conflict with the French and Indians over posession of the Ohio Country and the Trans-Allegheny region. We follow Washington as he attempts to make a name for himself with the Governor of the Virginia colony by accepting a mission to deliver a message to the French army marching south from Lake Erie to the Forks of the Ohio River. This single event pushes Washington from the "shadows of an ordinary life" onto the stage of history. We see as Washington botches his attempt to protect the Forks from a French invasion at Fort Necessity and his anger at his own failure to not only obtain a royal commision in the British army, but to even obtain a victory in battle. Lewis details Washington's involvment in the war from Braddock's disasterous campaign against Fort Dusquene in 1755 to his ultimate anti-climactic success at the end of the long and muddy Forbes' Road in 1758, after which Washington retires from public service to return to the simple life of a farmer forever.
I also enjoyed Lewis' attention to the background of the struggle that served as the forge of experience for young G. W. Here we are exposed to the details and origins of the problems with not only the French, but particularly the Indians living in the Ohio Country and the singularly important role they played and the failure of Washington, or any other whitemen, to grasp that importance. This is evident in both Washington's and Braddock's terrible defeats in the early war years. Lewis gives us fascinating accounts of Washington's peers, his allies, enemies. These are men like Ohio Company scout Christopher Gist, The Seneca chief Tannacharison (Half-King), friend and neighbor George Fairfax, and others. In the end Washington would emerge older and experienced from a bloody conflict prepared to take on an even greater leadership role in another later fight in the not too distant future. A great book that I highly recommend.