Washington's End: The Final Years and Forgotten Struggle

Washington's End: The Final Years and Forgotten Struggle

Popular historian and former White House speechwriter Jonathan Horn tells the astonishing true story of George Washingtons forgotten last yearsthe personalities, plotting, and private torment that unraveled Americas first post-presidency.Washingtons End begins where most biographies of George Washington leave off, with the first president exiting office after eight years...

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Title:Washington's End: The Final Years and Forgotten Struggle
Author:Jonathan Horn
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Washington's End: The Final Years and Forgotten Struggle Reviews

  • Donna Pingry

    Not exactly exciting reading but it gives a new light on George Washington, the man, the former President, the consummate General of the United States. Although a man of flaws: the Whiskey Rebellion, treatment of native Americans, etc, he tended to take counsel before important decisions. Yet he was accused of wanting to be king rather than President, this man who wanted to go home at the end of his first term until persuaded otherwise. Although a slave owner, he made sure he freed everyone he

    Not exactly exciting reading but it gives a new light on George Washington, the man, the former President, the consummate General of the United States. Although a man of flaws: the Whiskey Rebellion, treatment of native Americans, etc, he tended to take counsel before important decisions. Yet he was accused of wanting to be king rather than President, this man who wanted to go home at the end of his first term until persuaded otherwise. Although a slave owner, he made sure he freed everyone he was legally able to upon his death. It portrays the Presidents who followed (Adams and Jefferson) as jealous and manipulative, true politicians through and through. Gave me a lot to reconsider about what I have been taught. So glad NetGalley gave me a chance to review this book for my honest opinion.

  • Susan Hayes

    An insightful look at the man who continued to give to his country long after he had no more to give. This is an excellent addition to any solid study of Washington. Here you witness the man behind the legend and the strength of the support he received from Martha.

  • Rich Anderson

    I k new little to nothing about President Washington's final years after leaving office so this was an enlightening book. It was disheartening to learn that jealousy, political maneuvering, scheming, etc. have existed since the earliest days of our national government.

  • Adrian Snead

    A very interesting read about the last years of Americas first man. The book shows Washington as both the towering figure he was but also the human underneath. Like any good biography, it provides human details and brings down, but only a bit, Americas most dignified leader. The book is chalked full of interesting vignettes about our first Presidents post-presidential years: the private jealousies, his firm understanding of his place in history and the persona he must always be, and his failings

    A very interesting read about the last years of America’s first man. The book shows Washington as both the towering figure he was but also the human underneath. Like any good biography, it provides human details and brings down, but only a bit, America’s most dignified leader. The book is chalked full of interesting vignettes about our first Presidents post-presidential years: the private jealousies, his firm understanding of his place in history and the persona he must always be, and his failings both as a moral, political and military leader.

    No full understanding of American history is complete without reading this book.

  • David Wineberg

    George Washington tried mightily to just fade away. He wanted out of politics, public office and the military. But it was not to be, as Jonathan Horn relates in Washingtons End. In his mid sixties, Washington wanted nothing more than to farm the land and lease property he did not need. To be with his wife and extended family. And relax. It had been not just a momentous but an unrelenting run for him, starting with the Declaration of Independence, through the Revolutionary War, the constitutional

    George Washington tried mightily to just fade away. He wanted out of politics, public office and the military. But it was not to be, as Jonathan Horn relates in Washington’s End. In his mid sixties, Washington wanted nothing more than to farm the land and lease property he did not need. To be with his wife and extended family. And relax. It had been not just a momentous but an unrelenting run for him, starting with the Declaration of Independence, through the Revolutionary War, the constitutional battles and then the presidency. Twice. And every step of the way, he had to make it up as he went, because no one had come before him. There had never been an American military, electorate, national government, or leader.

    The biggest impression the book leaves is Washington’s tense fear of saying or doing the wrong thing. He worded his thoughts carefully, listened more than he spoke, and even went back through all his papers to edit out the colorful, the superfluous and the opinionated so that he would not trap others – or the country – into some unseemly situation after he was gone. Some of his edits are ludicrously oversensitive, distorting history rather than documenting it.

    His favorite person in the world, the Marquis de Lafayette, was finally released from prison in Austria (an incredible story in itself), and wanted to come to the USA to visit his oldest and best friend. Lafayette was a genuine American Revolutionary War hero. Washington was even raising his grandson, Georges Washington Lafayette. But there was potential war with France in the offing, and Washington could not possibly be seen entertaining a Frenchman under those circumstances. That’s how sensitive he was. He would never see Lafayette again, but that was the price of putting America first. Such attitudes in today’s administration is inconceivable.

    Washington was THE national hero. For 20 years he never had dinner alone with his wife Martha. There were always visitors, usually total strangers, come to pay their respects, thank him and see his estate at Mount Vernon. They were always received warmly, and wined and dined. This provided more opportunities to screw up, and Washington seemed to have walked on eggshells for the rest of his life.

    He hated political parties and bemoaned the fact that people who used to work together (and needed to work together) no longer even tipped their hats (in fact crossed the street to avoid it) because they were in different political parties. America had become the land of hate. Already. Washington liked to speak from and for America, and not from or for some state, region or special interest. And he wished everyone would follow his example.

    But the only thing they followed him for was to drag him back into service. “Only Washington can save the country” was a familiar call in the late 1790s, as the party system (predictably) undermined everything the founders sought to erect. They wanted him to run for a third term, especially after John Adams proved to be unsatisfactory as his successor. Meanwhile, Adams felt the pressure of always being compared to George Washington, and unflatteringly. Eventually, Adams convinced Washington to come out of retirement to raise and lead a new American military into what looked to be war with France. (At least Adams recognized that with no military experience, he was not going to be a competent commander in chief, and sought out the ideal candidate for it. No one since has voluntarily given up power like Adams did.)

    Washington never wanted an American army. It was expensive and pointless, as the USA was isolated from potential enemies by oceans which provided plenty of notice of an attack. The country was not set up for a military establishment. It couldn’t even get uniforms made – not even just one for George Washington. There wasn’t enough gold thread or tailors who knew how to embroider with it. And no military bases to house and train the men. When war was avoided, Adams was only too glad to abandon the whole project. Let the states foot the bills for militias if they were so hot on the military. That’s what they had the Second Amendment for. Any resemblance to the USA today is purely coincidental.

    The book is short. (Washington didn’t live to see out the decade after he retired.) But it is annoying. For some reason, every individual word Horn picks out of the archives is significant to him and merits quotation marks. So sentences become rocky rollercoasters, as ordinary words like “formal” or “received” or “high” or “wet” make readers wonder what they’re missing. The answer is they aren’t missing anything, but it makes the book read like a Zagat restaurant review, where nearly every word comes from a customer comment. It might be cute in a paragraph, but it is painful in a book.

    The human story still comes through, but it is more difficult than it needs to be.

    David Wineberg

  • Jennifer Schultz

    Read if you: Have read other Washington biographies and want a focus on his last years of life.

    This is a comprehensive, although somewhat meandering, look at George Washington's post-presidential years. The premise is certainly fascinating and mostly kept my interest. Is this is a great biography of Washington? No--however, if you want a relatively short (under 400 pages) Washington biography and have read other biographies that cover Washington's life more in-depth, try this one.

    Many thanks

    Read if you: Have read other Washington biographies and want a focus on his last years of life.

    This is a comprehensive, although somewhat meandering, look at George Washington's post-presidential years. The premise is certainly fascinating and mostly kept my interest. Is this is a great biography of Washington? No--however, if you want a relatively short (under 400 pages) Washington biography and have read other biographies that cover Washington's life more in-depth, try this one.

    Many thanks to Scribner and NetGalley for a digital review copy in exchange for an honest review.

  • Robert Dudley

    I had high exceptions for this biography and I was really disappointed. Essentially, after leaving the presidency he wanted to disappear from the public eye. He was really a modest individual and one whose schooling ended early. His training was as a surveyor; which he excelled at. He had many ideas about farming, some of which would be considered very modern. He was, in some ways, jealous of Thomas Jefferson's gardens and farms. He had large holdings, more than anyone man could manage and in

    I had high exceptions for this biography and I was really disappointed. Essentially, after leaving the presidency he wanted to disappear from the public eye. He was really a modest individual and one whose schooling ended early. His training was as a surveyor; which he excelled at. He had many ideas about farming, some of which would be considered very modern. He was, in some ways, jealous of Thomas Jefferson's gardens and farms. He had large holdings, more than anyone man could manage and in the end he failed at making money off his farming.

    Politics were pretty nasty after he left office and he wanted nothing to do with it. Unfortunately he was pulled into it and did not handle it well. On top of that there were family problems and the deterioration of his health.

    While there was a lot of material from this time period to work from there was not in the way of personal letters with his thoughts and we learn why from this biography. The writing on the other hand is not the greatest making it difficult to read. I still think that it is worth the effort.

  • Casey Wheeler

    While the subject matter itself is interesting, the writing style of the author made this a somewhat painful slog about the final years of George Washington's life. Add to that that the author meanders from the main subject on a regular basis and you have a book that could have been much more intersesting. In addition, the frequent use (or overuse) of qoutes gives the book a feel that this was needed in order to have a substantial narrative on the subject.

    I would only recommend this book if you

    While the subject matter itself is interesting, the writing style of the author made this a somewhat painful slog about the final years of George Washington's life. Add to that that the author meanders from the main subject on a regular basis and you have a book that could have been much more intersesting. In addition, the frequent use (or overuse) of qoutes gives the book a feel that this was needed in order to have a substantial narrative on the subject.

    I would only recommend this book if you are a fan of George Washington and are willing to plow through several parts of the book that border on painful.

    I received a free Kindle copy of this book courtesy of NetGalley and the publisher with the understanding that I would post a review on Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon and my nonfiction book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook  page.

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