Inventing George Washington by Edward G. Lengel – Book Review

Inventing George Washington by Edward G. Lengel
Published by Harper, an imprint of Harper Collins

Perhaps no American has inspired as many myths and legends as George Washington. He chopped down a cherry tree, he fathered a child on one of his slaves, he was an incredibly religious man, he was offered the monarchy of this new country, he slept about a million places, he was all but a god in mortal clothing, he was all too human. There are nearly as many American myths about Washington as there are Americans, and each age of our country has seen a new iteration of the man.

In “Inventing George Washington,” Edward G. Lengel explores the myths that have grown around Washington in the over 200 since the founding of the country. Particularly interesting is the idea that are the country’s mores and national mood changed, so did the recreation of the Washington legend. Washington as a reflection of the country’s self-identification is a very interesting idea, and is explored very well throughout Lengel’s work. In fact, the content in general is fascinating. However, the writing, while not precisely dry, lacks a certain spark that would make the book truly engaging. The prose is serviceable, to be sure, but does not command the sort of fascination that might be expected.

I am slightly divided on “Inventing George Washington,” Lengel certainly knows his material and presents it in a clear and concise manner, but the writing leaves just a little something to be desired.

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