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Young Washington: How Wilderness and War Forged America’s Founding Father

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A new, brash, and unexpected view of the president we thought we knew, from the bestselling author of Astoria Two decades before he led America to independence, George Washington was a flailing young soldier serving the British Empire in the vast wilderness of the Ohio Valley. Naïve and self-absorbed, the twenty-two-year-old officer accidentally ignited the French and India A new, brash, and unexpected view of the president we thought we knew, from the bestselling author of Astoria Two decades before he led America to independence, George Washington was a flailing young soldier serving the British Empire in the vast wilderness of the Ohio Valley. Naïve and self-absorbed, the twenty-two-year-old officer accidentally ignited the French and Indian War—a conflict that opened colonists to the possibility of an American Revolution. With powerful narrative drive and vivid writing, Young Washington recounts the wilderness trials, controversial battles, and emotional entanglements that transformed Washington from a temperamental striver into a mature leader. Enduring terrifying summer storms and subzero winters imparted resilience and self-reliance, helping prepare him for what he would one day face at Valley Forge. Leading the Virginia troops into battle taught him to set aside his own relentless ambitions and stand in solidarity with those who looked to him for leadership. Negotiating military strategy with British and colonial allies honed his diplomatic skills. And thwarted in his obsessive, youthful love for one woman, he grew to cultivate deeper, enduring relationships.  By weaving together Washington’s harrowing wilderness adventures and a broader historical context, Young Washington offers new insights into the dramatic years that shaped the man who shaped a nation.


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A new, brash, and unexpected view of the president we thought we knew, from the bestselling author of Astoria Two decades before he led America to independence, George Washington was a flailing young soldier serving the British Empire in the vast wilderness of the Ohio Valley. Naïve and self-absorbed, the twenty-two-year-old officer accidentally ignited the French and India A new, brash, and unexpected view of the president we thought we knew, from the bestselling author of Astoria Two decades before he led America to independence, George Washington was a flailing young soldier serving the British Empire in the vast wilderness of the Ohio Valley. Naïve and self-absorbed, the twenty-two-year-old officer accidentally ignited the French and Indian War—a conflict that opened colonists to the possibility of an American Revolution. With powerful narrative drive and vivid writing, Young Washington recounts the wilderness trials, controversial battles, and emotional entanglements that transformed Washington from a temperamental striver into a mature leader. Enduring terrifying summer storms and subzero winters imparted resilience and self-reliance, helping prepare him for what he would one day face at Valley Forge. Leading the Virginia troops into battle taught him to set aside his own relentless ambitions and stand in solidarity with those who looked to him for leadership. Negotiating military strategy with British and colonial allies honed his diplomatic skills. And thwarted in his obsessive, youthful love for one woman, he grew to cultivate deeper, enduring relationships.  By weaving together Washington’s harrowing wilderness adventures and a broader historical context, Young Washington offers new insights into the dramatic years that shaped the man who shaped a nation.

30 review for Young Washington: How Wilderness and War Forged America’s Founding Father

  1. 4 out of 5

    Patti Alexander

    Interesting information on his early life

  2. 5 out of 5

    John

    4.5 stars. A good history should be: 1. Well-written. Poorly written history is the bane of the world! Fortunately, Mr. Stark writes very, very well. 2. Help the reader see a historical subject in a new way. Again, Mr. Stark delivers very well. It's not like there is a dearth of information about George Washington, so to write a book and take a fresh look at his young and formative years and help the reader understand Mr. Washington in a new light? Kudos to you, Mr. Stark. I've read a lot about Geo 4.5 stars. A good history should be: 1. Well-written. Poorly written history is the bane of the world! Fortunately, Mr. Stark writes very, very well. 2. Help the reader see a historical subject in a new way. Again, Mr. Stark delivers very well. It's not like there is a dearth of information about George Washington, so to write a book and take a fresh look at his young and formative years and help the reader understand Mr. Washington in a new light? Kudos to you, Mr. Stark. I've read a lot about George Washington, and still Mr. Stark managed to recount his formative years in a fresh and original way. Some interesting takeaways: 1. George Washington was the spark that set the war between France and England off. Mr. Stark makes this claim and I suppose it's somewhat true. One wonders if he doesn't reach just a little bit here. I'm not enough of a historian to know if this claim is really valid, or if its just made because it's convenient to Mr. Stark's thesis. At any rate, it is a fascinating little fact of Washington's life. He was leading a party which encountered a French/Indian party who were supposedly coming to talk to the English. Washington's men fired on them and killed the leader of the French party. Washington tried to justify this attack, but neither Mr. Stark, nor I, agree with his actions. 2. We tend to think that Mr. Washington sprung, fully-formed as an excellent battle leader almost from his mother's womb, but of course this isn't true. He had formative years. He made mistakes. He suffered. His leadership was questioned more than once, and rightly so. Mr. Stark does a good job of following Mr. Washington's development as a man, and perhaps even more so, as a military leader. 3. Mr. Stark points out that Mr. Washington had this sense of himself that he was both an actor in history and a spectator of his own actions, as if he knew that he would be an important person in history (which he certainly was). It's an interesting fact that great persons of history often have this sense that they will be great. Churchill certainly had this feeling, as did Napoleon. George Washington did as well. 4. Most of the book follows Washington and his military efforts from the time he is about 20 to 27. Mr. Stark points out that in his younger years, Mr. Washington was not necessarily a man of compassion, but when he was given responsibility for the protection of the settlers on the frontiers during the deprivations of the French and indians, he developed compassion as he heard and witnessed story after story of torture, destruction, and murder of these settlers. It was this experience that made him the man he became during the period leading up to and through the Revolution. 5. Without question, one thing that Mr. Washington always seemed to have was a sense of his own personal honor, and a deep and abiding courage. He was in several battles and scrapes with the French and indians and while he didn't always make the right decisions, he was always personally courageous. I really enjoyed this book.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Sunset Lake

    With brilliant storytelling, Peter Stark’s new book Young Washington is a fascinating look at the British and Virginian aristocracy in pre-Revolutionary America. It is a vivid tale of a series of critical turning points in the career of a youthful George Washington in search of himself and his role in history. Self-centered and filled with ambition, Young Washington has the chameleon-like ability to grow-up in a fatherless family, with only a frontier education, starting out as a self-taught sur With brilliant storytelling, Peter Stark’s new book Young Washington is a fascinating look at the British and Virginian aristocracy in pre-Revolutionary America. It is a vivid tale of a series of critical turning points in the career of a youthful George Washington in search of himself and his role in history. Self-centered and filled with ambition, Young Washington has the chameleon-like ability to grow-up in a fatherless family, with only a frontier education, starting out as a self-taught surveyor, eager student of the gentry, wilderness messenger and young militia officer commanding troops during French and Indian Wars. Within the span of only a few short years, that would shape Washington’s life and leadership. He would conquer his youthful fears, lay waste to his enemies and learn the art of survival and Indian fighting in the western Virginia frontier. After the war he would marry the rich widow Martha Custis. This book lays the groundwork of Washington's early adulthood, before he went on to become a wealthy tobacco plantation owner, a local politician and finally the first President of the United States. Forget the idea of a musty history offering; this is a well-researched, gripping adventure tale of George Washington’s youthful exploits in the wilderness. It is a provocative, inspiring, and informative story of how his character and talents were forged with both glorious victories and humiliating defeats. Young Washington is a good read and I can highly recommend it. Brian D. Ratty, author

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jwduke

    I have always valued George Washington as a great general. I have even visit d obscure sites to see obscure Washington letters, like the Lilly library and his letter accepting the presidency. Over all this book is wonderful. That being read, me personally, I struggled with the man I have always admired in how he was FACTUALLY portrayed in this book. It is not the fault of the author for presenting the truth as it is, and the author did. Rather it was my fault for holding Washington above all othe I have always valued George Washington as a great general. I have even visit d obscure sites to see obscure Washington letters, like the Lilly library and his letter accepting the presidency. Over all this book is wonderful. That being read, me personally, I struggled with the man I have always admired in how he was FACTUALLY portrayed in this book. It is not the fault of the author for presenting the truth as it is, and the author did. Rather it was my fault for holding Washington above all others. In short he wasn’t great. He was a self centered, whiny, greedy, jealous, envious, sensitive, immature man who happened to be the most experienced in warfare when someone was needed to fight a war. He actually started the seven year war himself, out of avarice. I will never look at him the same way. The book is good. You should read it.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Michal Cichon

    What kind of a person was Young Washington? It turns out he was quite unlike the man popular imagination makes him out to be. The idea of George Washington as the impeccable moralist turns out to be false. He was vain, proud, and helplessly self - absorbed. However, as he gained some experience, Mr. Stark shows how he came to care more about the welfare of his fellow countrymen than his own, so insistent on promotion was he in his early days. Mr. Stark does a fine job of delving into the mind of What kind of a person was Young Washington? It turns out he was quite unlike the man popular imagination makes him out to be. The idea of George Washington as the impeccable moralist turns out to be false. He was vain, proud, and helplessly self - absorbed. However, as he gained some experience, Mr. Stark shows how he came to care more about the welfare of his fellow countrymen than his own, so insistent on promotion was he in his early days. Mr. Stark does a fine job of delving into the mind of young Washington: his reactions to life in the military, battling against the French and Indians in a wild landscape, what he was likely thinking and feeling. In this respect Young Washington reads more like a story than a weighty historical tome. I recommend it to anyone with an interest in U.S. History or the life of George Washington. I enjoyed it immensely, and I hope you will too.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Larry Van Bibber

    I gave it a five since the book is focused on battles near Pittsburgh and covers many famous military leaders such as Pitt, Braddock, Forbes,Grant and St Clair in addition to Washington. Of course Ft. Duquesne and Fort Necessity are featured. I didn't realize that all of these names well known in Pittsburgh derived from the same period of the French and Indian Wars in the mid 1750s.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Caseyfast

    The book covers a time in US history that is not too familiar to many and shows Washington's flaws as he struggled to establish himself. I have read some of the original letters referenced in the book that Stark skillfully brings to bare. Washington had human defects similar to those of politicians today.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Al Anderer

    Some little know facts about George's early life and his anxieties to prove himself to his friends and himself. The prelude to the battle that destroyed the British army in the Ohio valley makes for great reading. Washington survived Braddock's Defeat. In the next couple of years he took on an image that was to bode him well in later years.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Steve

    A interesting view of George Washington and his failed attempt to lead his men against the French and Indians during the French and Indian War. However, I'm sure Washington learned and gained lessons twenty years later when he led the Continental Army during the American Revolution against the British.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Douglas Fugate

    This biography concentrates on Young Washington prior to and during the French and Indian War. Mr. Stark portrays a young man learning to be soldier, commander and growing into manhood in the aristocratic Virginia society. Several little known, or shared, episodes are presented.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Yosef Shapiro

    Most of the books I have read on George Washington's life focus on his Revolutionary War service or on his presidency . This book focuses on the early days of Washington's military service under the British. It flows nicely and is an easy read .

  12. 4 out of 5

    Dave

    Excellent!

  13. 5 out of 5

    David Barney

    A nice perspective of George Washington in his 20’s. The book helps the reader have a better understanding of events that had a shaping effect on Washington.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Lorna

    our historical violence makes me ashamed to be human.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Ts

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cindy

  17. 5 out of 5

    Jason Roland

  18. 4 out of 5

    Karen Dominick

  19. 4 out of 5

    Eric Fischer

  20. 5 out of 5

    Karl

  21. 4 out of 5

    Fabio

  22. 4 out of 5

    Ljkreger

  23. 4 out of 5

    Dustin

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Fullerton

  25. 5 out of 5

    Sieanne

  26. 4 out of 5

    Aaron

  27. 5 out of 5

    shawn w ingersoll

  28. 5 out of 5

    Charcoal

  29. 4 out of 5

    Philip Forrester

  30. 4 out of 5

    Abrawley

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