The author of In the Heart of the Sea, winner of the National Book Award, returns with a travelogue in which he, his wife and dog follow in the footsteps of the United States' first President and seek to understand his effect on the nation.
Here a close first-person voice—intimate and reflective—excavates a remarkably underdiscussed section of Washington’s life ... Philbrick’s imagery of Washington traveling long distances by horse and carriage over narrow dirt roads through mud, rain, and America’s untouched forests reveals the fragile and delicate infrastructure of a new world ... Philbrick is selective with his empathy. In one breath, he admires Washington’s remarkable leadership under pressure despite regular bouts of anxiety. The next, he elaborates on the 'cold pocket of horror' within Washington, the plantation-owning man ... Philbrick’s strongest descriptive moments arrive when juxtaposing grander welcome displays in state capitals, with humble offerings from small towns that suffered greatly from the war ... Philbrick is both the protagonist—speaking in the first-person throughout—and the omniscient narrator observing Washington from a distance. It’s a neat track, one that shows off Philbrick’s considerable narrative skills ... This book is quintessential Philbrick—a lively, courageous, and masterful achievement.
Visiting the cities Washington once rode through on his white horse, or paraded through in a cream-colored carriage with two enslaved postillions, or strode into wearing a simple brown suit (the new president had a feel for political theater), Philbrick delivers the details ... Philbrick keeps one foot in, and a respectful perspective on, the present throughout, assessing hazards then...and now ... With Travels With George, he succeeds again ... Washington emerges as the complicated, flawed but no less heroic leader that his newborn country desperately needed. The quantity and quality of the details Philbrick gathers as he straddles past and present make this an extraordinary read.
... he has not written a mere travelogue: running through the book is a strong current of concern not unlike that which Washington sought to address ... He is not afraid to show his cards: the country is in trouble ... Philbrick’s book addresses weighty matters but is nevertheless an enjoyable read, a fitting if unusual capstone to a trilogy on the revolution. At times, the book seems like a valedictory. The author’s many readers hope not.