Washington: A Life Summary & Study Guide

Ron Chernow
This Study Guide consists of approximately 32 pages of chapter summaries, quotes, character analysis, themes, and more - everything you need to sharpen your knowledge of Washington.
This section contains 530 words
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Washington: A Life Summary & Study Guide Description

Washington: A Life Summary & Study Guide includes comprehensive information and analysis to help you understand the book. This study guide contains the following sections:

This detailed literature summary also contains Topics for Discussion and a Free Quiz on Washington: A Life by Ron Chernow.

Washington: A Life is a comprehensive biography of George Washington. Ron Chernow, the author, has attempted to tell George Washington's complete and complicated life story in a remarkable single volume. Although many others have attempted to tell the story of Washington in the past, it has proved impossible to tell everything about the man in a single book. In Washington: A Life, Chernow does a beautiful job telling Washington's story with beautiful narration, close attention to detail, and a simplicity that allows him to successfully do it in one volume.

Washington was born to the second wife of a landholder in Virginia. Washington's father died when he was only eleven, depriving him of a desired education, a fact that left Washington self-conscious even as he served as the first president of the United States. Washington grew up with a single mother who was self-absorbed and needy, refusing Washington to join the Navy as he had wanted to do as a young boy.

Washington trained as a surveyor as a young man under the guidance of a local family with whom he remained close most of his life, the Fairfax family. This opportunity created in Washington a deep love for land. As he grew older, Washington looked to political office to help propel him to the life of a gentleman he coveted and desired for himself. When conflict erupted between French Canada and the British, Washington was one of the first to approach the French Canadians with demands from the British government. Later Washington was present at the first conflict in the French-Indian war.

Washington married after the war and settle on Mount Vernon, his brother's property that became Washington's with the death of his niece and her mother. In his marriage, Washington took into his home his wife's two children, but never had a child of his own. Instead, Washington experienced the grief of losing his two stepchildren and raised two of his wife's grandchildren and had a hand in the raising of multiple nieces and nephews.

With his experience in the French-Indian War and his political actions in Virginia, Washington was one of several Virginians who were directly involved in the uniting of the colonies against their British oppressors. Washington also received the honor of leading the Continental Army. Although afraid he was not experienced enough to accept such an honor, Washington proved himself more than capable when after eight years of war the British surrendered.

Content in middle-age to be a simple planter, Washington found his life unexpectedly altered by his heroism when he returned to Mount Vernon after the war. People from all over wanted to know and meet Washington, often descending on his home in droves. Therefore, when Washington was asked to become the first president, his desire to remain on his farm were outweighed by both his desire to cement his place in the history books and to live up to the expectations of his supporters.

Washington found the office of the president daunting and stayed much longer than he originally anticipated. However, Washington was instrumental in designing the expectations and the powers of the executive office of his new country.

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This section contains 530 words
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