[Chernow's] ability to master the secondary sources as well as the primary materials is the secret of his remarkable success as a biographer ... Because he also has a feel for the contentious historical issues in the lives of his characters, his book ought to satisfy academic historians as well as the general readers who may be unaware of these issues ... One comes away from the book feeling that Washington has finally become comprehensible ... Although there is nothing really original in this characterization, no one before has ever put together between two covers such a convincing depiction of the great man. It is Chernow’s well-paced and readable prose and the smooth organization of his story together with the sensible and impartial nature of his judgments that make the book so persuasive ... Chernow has written his biography with sympathetic detachment, keenly aware of the limitations of life. He has no ax to grind; his only object seems to be to render his subject as fully and as roundly as possible. His understanding of human nature is extraordinary and that is what makes his biography so powerful.
While there have been numerous books written about [George Washington], few of them have given as complete a picture of our first president as Ron Chernow's compelling new biography, Washington: A Life ... a biography of Washington for the 21st century, one that examines his conflicts and foibles as well as his triumphs. It is a psychological as well as a historical portrait. Chernow makes sure the reader sees the tempestuous side of Washington that many knew lay under his calm demeanor but was revealed to only a few ... keeps its distance from Washington mythology, and its narrative informs as much as it entertains.