Coe moves past the well-worn tropes we’ve come to associate with George Washington. Her nuanced portrait paints a man torn between service to country and family ... Washington’s story is as well documented as anyone’s in American history. Yet Coe finds fresh angles from which to examine him. And she doesn’t shy away from the most troubling aspect of Washington’s legacy: When he died, he owned 123 slaves ... Despite the heavy subject matter, Coe writes with style and humor ... reminds us of the importance of public service and diplomacy, and Coe makes colonial history not just fascinating but relevant.
In her form-shattering and myth-crushing book...Alexis Coe does more than deal with the low-hanging fruit of the Washington cherry tree. She provides a fresh look at the first president and, just as important, at the first precedents he set ... Coe examines myths with mirth, and writes history with humor ... There is something engaging in this breezy book, and something efficient, too ... While this surely should not be the only biography of Washington students of our founding should read, it is an accessible look at a president who always finishes in the first ranks of our leaders. It is, moreover, a reminder that, in a slight revision of an unfortunate phrase, we should never forget our first.
No one would describe Alexis Coe’s unconventional biography of conventional biographical subject George Washington as boring ... a wink of sorts, at Washington biography and at the ways that Americans have very consistently misremembered the first president. Coe sets herself apart from the historians she refers to as the 'Thigh Men' of history: biographers like Joseph Ellis, Harlow Giles Unger, and Ron Chernow, esteemed writers in their own rights but ones who seemingly focus on Washington as a marble Adonis (with impressive thighs—we’ll get to that), rather than as a flawed, but still impressive, human being ... just 304 lively pages...still a full biography, covering birth to death and the highlights of his life and career between.