Books: Founding Father

Free Press, 1996 | ISBN 0-684-82291-1

The first revolutionary of the modern era was also the best. George Washington did everything he was asked, and went home when he was done. A tale of leadership in war and peace, and a meditation on the meaning of fatherhood in public life.


Moral biography has two purposes: to explain its subject, and to shape the minds and hearts of those who read it—not by offering a list of two-hundred-year-old policy prescriptions, but by showing how a great man navigated politics and a life as a public figure. Plutarch’s Lives of the Noble Grecians and Romans was very popular with eighteenth-century Americans; they knew something about the power of example that we have forgotten. When he lived, Washington had the ability to give strength to debaters and to dying men. His life still has the power to inspire anyone who studies it.

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