Gorgeous George

Two more books about George Washington. Two more books? It is tempting to argue that the Washington theme is exhausted. Indeed, even his more candid or cranky contemporaries suggested as much. In a truculent “Open Letter” of 1796, Tom Paine had denounced the President as a cold, hypocritical figure, extolled …

A Peculiar War

Washington Irving took pride in his ability to write attractive narrative prose. The knack sustained him and his readers through much of his five-volume biography of George Washington. But when he came to the military aspects of the Revolutionary War he ran into difficulty. The campaigns, he said, reminded him …