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Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Audiobook Review: His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis

his excellency
His Excellency: George Washington by Joseph J. Ellis
Unabridged, 14 hr. 13 min.
Recorded Books
Nelson Runger (Narrator)
November 3, 2004
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Genre: Non Fiction, Biography

Source: Borrowed from my local library
“To this landmark biography of our first president, Joseph J. Ellis brings the exacting scholarship, shrewd analysis, and lyric prose that have made him one of the premier historians of the Revolutionary era. Training his lens on a figure who sometimes seems as remote as his effigy on Mount Rushmore, Ellis assesses George Washington as a military and political leader and a man whose “statue-like solidity” concealed volcanic energies and emotions. 

Here is the impetuous young officer whose miraculous survival in combat half-convinced him that he could not be killed. Here is the free-spending landowner whose debts to English merchants instilled him with a prickly resentment of imperial power. We see the general who lost more battles than he won and the reluctant president who tried to float above the partisan feuding of his cabinet.”
Although there are a plethora of biographies out there on George Washington, this is the first one that I have read. I selected this particular titled primarily because I enjoyed the previous book I had read by this author, First Family: Abigail and John Adams. Ellis did justice to this great personage just as I expected that he would.

One of the things that I enjoyed most about this book was that Ellis was able to turn the myth into a man. When you think about or read about George Washington there are all of these lofty ideals and mythology that surrounds him. He is the man that made all of the right decisions and brought this country forward when it was struggling to survive. While still keeping high praise on Washington, Ellis brings to us a man who did not always know what the right answer was, lost more battles that he won, and ultimately did not want to be President of the United States. He made the first President much more approachable and someone who you could connect to in some ways – it can be hard when you can’t necessarily place yourself into his shoes.

The primary focus of this book is Washington’s military days. It was appreciated to learn about his time in the French and Indian War and the time before he became President, because you quite frankly can forget that those periods exist with all of the emphasis put on his American Revolution tenure and Presidency. His presidency was featured but not in nearly as much detail as his war days and it didn’t feel as if the author placed as much importance on it as these earlier periods in his life.

The one thing that I would have liked a little more of was his home life. I think about 2 sentences were spent on Martha and it was only really in passing. I’m sure that there was much more to their relationship. It could also be that not as much is known of their relationship as say John and Abigail Adams because Martha destroyed all of their letters to each other upon George’s death.


I found the narration to be very well done. I enjoyed the narrator’s usage of different voices for the different people that were quoted. I find it easier to discern who is talking and separate it from the narrative.

You can listen to a short sample of the audiobook below (links to Audible):

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Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Buy the Book:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | RJ Julia

Also by Joseph J. Ellis:

founding brothers_thumb
Founding Brothers: The Revolutionary Generation

first family
First Family: Abigail and John Adams
[My Review]

american sphinx_thumb
American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson

american creation_thumb
American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies of the Founding of the Republic

The Quartet: Orchestrating the Second American Revolution, 1783-1789

revolutionary summer_thumb
Revolutionary Summer: The Birth of American Independence

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Passionate Sage: The Character and Legacy of John Adams

after the revolution_thumb
After the Revolution: Profiles of Early American Culture

Find Joseph J. Ellis: Website | Facebook

Copyright © 2012 by The Maiden’s Court


  1. I am planning on visiting Mount Vernon in July and would love to read this book before I go. Too bad there is not more about his home life, I would have enjoyed that.

    1. I hope you have a great time at Mount Vernon! I want to visit there too, but we are going to Montpelier (James Madison's house) in two weeks instead this time. I have plans to get there some day. Hope you get the chance to read the book. The author talks about his visit there as a child in the beginning.


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