Friday, August 31, 2007

His Excellency: George Washington - Joseph J. Ellis: A Review

Title: His Excellency: George Washington
Author: Joseph J. Ellis
Pages: 275
Date Finished: August 31, 2007
Rating: 2.5/5

I am so glad to be finished with this book! As you can tell by the title, this book is a biography of George Washington. I read it for the Non-Fiction Five challenge and was a little worried about not being able to finish it (not only by the end of the challenge, but EVER).

His Excellency: George Washington spans the career and personal life of Washinton as a figure in the French-Indian War to his position as Commander in Chief during the Revolutionary War to his presidency. While the information and the life of Washington are fascinating, the writing style of Ellis was difficult to swallow. There were many times when I did not understand what was going on or would have to re-read paragraphs twice. This was especially true when Ellis was discussing the wars; when he moved on to the presidency, the writing was a little more straightforward. Why was it so difficult? Not only did Ellis use a highly elated vocabulary, but his sentences were so complex that it was hard to discern what he was really trying to say. Sometimes his writing was circular--not really leading to anything at all. Bottom line: not accessible to the masses. Result: I only got/understood a fraction of the information.

Recommendation: As I said before, Washington was a very complex and fascinating individual. He is certainly not the man I pictured him being (he did not want to be president, he was quiet, relatively uneducated, disliked conflict, etc etc). But, it did take a tremendous amount of time and will-power to slog through this one. I felt like I was back in grad school, and if not for the challenge I probably would not have finished it. Again, so glad to be done!! :)


Joy said...

And you get a BIG gold star for doing so!!! *

Okay, so it's small, black, and only an asterisk, but it's the thought that counts. Right? :)

Trish said...

Yay! :)

cj said...

Congrats on sticking it out!

I cannot believe anyone would make reading about Washington so difficult. He was everything you said he was - quiet and all of that. I was totally amazed by Mt Vernon and his inventions. As a country, we owe this one man a great deal. Without him, the war for Independence might have been lost.


Trish said...

CJ - I'm not sure why Ellis's writing was so convoluted, but it was--there is absolutely no need to make a general audience book so erudite! But yes, in many ways GW is an amazing man and very misunderstood, I think. Fascinating information. Have you read this one, too?

MSA said...

Hi Trish,
Im reading this now, but my book review is due in two days. How long did it take you? I was just finding some places that offer the summary, so far im on chapt. 3

Anyways, good job on reading this book.

Trish said...

MSA - Thanks for popping by. I usually try to read a book a week, but this one took me 2 weeks if I remember correctly (I was also reading other books on the side, though and only one week did I read this relatively agressively). Good luck finishing the rest in 2 days; I couldn't do it--but then again, when I was a grad student I probably would have.

Please don't use my thoughts for your review. I wouldn't even consider this particular "review" of mine a complete summary of the book. I only wish to express my opinions and feelings rather than something a little more academic.