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Travels with George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy

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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER "Travels with George . . . is quintessential Philbrick--a lively, courageous, and masterful achievement." --The Boston Globe Does George Washington still matter? Bestselling author Nathaniel Philbrick argues for Washington's unique contribution to the forging of America by retracing his journey as a new president through all thirteen former col NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER "Travels with George . . . is quintessential Philbrick--a lively, courageous, and masterful achievement." --The Boston Globe Does George Washington still matter? Bestselling author Nathaniel Philbrick argues for Washington's unique contribution to the forging of America by retracing his journey as a new president through all thirteen former colonies, which were now an unsure nation. Travels with George marks a new first-person voice for Philbrick, weaving history and personal reflection into a single narrative. When George Washington became president in 1789, the United States of America was still a loose and quarrelsome confederation and a tentative political experiment. Washington undertook a tour of the ex-colonies to talk to ordinary citizens about his new government, and to imbue in them the idea of being one thing--Americans. In the fall of 2018, Nathaniel Philbrick embarked on his own journey into what Washington called "the infant woody country" to see for himself what America had become in the 229 years since. Writing in a thoughtful first person about his own adventures with his wife, Melissa, and their dog, Dora, Philbrick follows Washington's presidential excursions: from Mount Vernon to the new capital in New York; a monthlong tour of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island; a venture onto Long Island and eventually across Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The narrative moves smoothly between the eighteenth and twenty-first centuries as we see the country through both Washington's and Philbrick's eyes. Written at a moment when America's founding figures are under increasing scrutiny, Travels with George grapples bluntly and honestly with Washington's legacy as a man of the people, a reluctant president, and a plantation owner who held people in slavery. At historic houses and landmarks, Philbrick reports on the reinterpretations at work as he meets reenactors, tour guides, and other keepers of history's flame. He paints a picture of eighteenth-century America as divided and fraught as it is today, and he comes to understand how Washington compelled, enticed, stood up to, and listened to the many different people he met along the way--and how his all-consuming belief in the union helped to forge a nation.


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NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER "Travels with George . . . is quintessential Philbrick--a lively, courageous, and masterful achievement." --The Boston Globe Does George Washington still matter? Bestselling author Nathaniel Philbrick argues for Washington's unique contribution to the forging of America by retracing his journey as a new president through all thirteen former col NEW YORK TIMES BESTSELLER "Travels with George . . . is quintessential Philbrick--a lively, courageous, and masterful achievement." --The Boston Globe Does George Washington still matter? Bestselling author Nathaniel Philbrick argues for Washington's unique contribution to the forging of America by retracing his journey as a new president through all thirteen former colonies, which were now an unsure nation. Travels with George marks a new first-person voice for Philbrick, weaving history and personal reflection into a single narrative. When George Washington became president in 1789, the United States of America was still a loose and quarrelsome confederation and a tentative political experiment. Washington undertook a tour of the ex-colonies to talk to ordinary citizens about his new government, and to imbue in them the idea of being one thing--Americans. In the fall of 2018, Nathaniel Philbrick embarked on his own journey into what Washington called "the infant woody country" to see for himself what America had become in the 229 years since. Writing in a thoughtful first person about his own adventures with his wife, Melissa, and their dog, Dora, Philbrick follows Washington's presidential excursions: from Mount Vernon to the new capital in New York; a monthlong tour of Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island; a venture onto Long Island and eventually across Georgia, South Carolina, and North Carolina. The narrative moves smoothly between the eighteenth and twenty-first centuries as we see the country through both Washington's and Philbrick's eyes. Written at a moment when America's founding figures are under increasing scrutiny, Travels with George grapples bluntly and honestly with Washington's legacy as a man of the people, a reluctant president, and a plantation owner who held people in slavery. At historic houses and landmarks, Philbrick reports on the reinterpretations at work as he meets reenactors, tour guides, and other keepers of history's flame. He paints a picture of eighteenth-century America as divided and fraught as it is today, and he comes to understand how Washington compelled, enticed, stood up to, and listened to the many different people he met along the way--and how his all-consuming belief in the union helped to forge a nation.

30 review for Travels with George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy

  1. 4 out of 5

    Erin

    Giveaway Win! I've been meaning to read Nathaniel Philbrick for some time. All of his book have sounded super interesting but for some reason I just hadn't gotten around to read any of them. But then the universe decided to step in and ensure that I finally read some of his books. First I found the Young Adult version of his book Mayflower in my local Little Free Library. And then the Second thing that happened was I won this book Travels with George through Goodreads. The universe had spoken and Giveaway Win! I've been meaning to read Nathaniel Philbrick for some time. All of his book have sounded super interesting but for some reason I just hadn't gotten around to read any of them. But then the universe decided to step in and ensure that I finally read some of his books. First I found the Young Adult version of his book Mayflower in my local Little Free Library. And then the Second thing that happened was I won this book Travels with George through Goodreads. The universe had spoken and so I read this book not too long after it had arrived at my house. George Washington was the first President of the United States and even before he became President he was a war hero and celebrity. In today's world despite our tendency to revisit and recontextualize our history, George Washington is still considered above reproach. It's as if its been decided by everyone that you're just not allowed to question anything this man did. I still remember being taught as a fact...In History Class that George Washington had chopped down his father's cherry tree. IN HISTORY CLASS! The myths and straight up lies that are taught as fact are unsettling. Nathaniel Philbrick set out to learn even more about a man that he already written 3 books about, by retracing his steps across the 13 colonies. This book is part travel log, part biography of George Washington and part biography of the author himself. We get to meet Philbrick's wife, father and his dog Dora. Nathaniel Philbrick doesn't sugarcoat the horrific views George Washington had or the terrible things he did. Washington was a slave owner and he wasn't a "lenient" slave owner either. Philbrick seeks to paint a more well rounded portrait of America's first President. And I think he succeeds. I don't really know alot about Washington because he's never really interested me after finishing this book I definitely want to pick Nathaniel Philbrick's other books about Washington. Travels with George is the perfect book for people who don't normally read nonfiction. It's a fast read and it didn't even feel like a history book as I read it. The writing style was easy to read and I had fun. I would definitely recommend this book!

  2. 5 out of 5

    Jim

    "We cannot remake our country's past, but we can learn from it, and all of us still have a lot to learn from George Washington" ― Nathaniel Philbrick, Travels with George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy Readers of other Nathaniel Philbrick novels will find that this is a little different from his other books. Part history. Part travelogue. The book switches between three trips that George Washington made in the 18th century and his own trips in 2018 where he followed Washington's excursion "We cannot remake our country's past, but we can learn from it, and all of us still have a lot to learn from George Washington" ― Nathaniel Philbrick, Travels with George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy Readers of other Nathaniel Philbrick novels will find that this is a little different from his other books. Part history. Part travelogue. The book switches between three trips that George Washington made in the 18th century and his own trips in 2018 where he followed Washington's excursions. In 1789 when George Washington became president the country was a divided confederation. The political divide today is not new or unique. The colonies had won their independence but what would happen next? Federalists supported the Constitution and a stronger national republic. Anti-Federalists opposed the ratification of the Constitution in favor of small localized government. Washington undertook these trips to talk to the citizens about this new government and bring the idea of being American. In this book we learn a lot more about Washington than what was taught in school. He was a reluctant president and a plantation owner who held people in slavery but he believed in a United States. Along the way he met many people and he compelled, enticed, and listened. In 2018 the author sets out on his own trip with his wife Melissa and their dog Dora to visit the same places as Washington. We learn that Washington was willing to reach across the partisan divide. Rhode Island was the last state to ratify the Constitution but when Rhode Island finally ratified the Constitution he hopped on a schooner and sailed to Newport and Providence. He visited Georgia and the Carolinas where a federal tax on whiskey was highly unpopular. What worried Washington more than anything else was what might happen if a president’s chief priority was to divide rather than unite the American people. I was left wondering what would Washington think if he were alive today?

  3. 5 out of 5

    Louise

    This travel book is informed by the background of its author. Nathanial Philbrick is a recognized authority on the life of George Washington, but who knew of his skills as a mariner? After his election as president, Washington set out on a series of tours to see this new country. It was a goodwill gesture to recognize the service of veterans and bind the nation together. For some locations there were specific goals, such as on Long Island he carefully and quietly thanked his team of spies, in Rho This travel book is informed by the background of its author. Nathanial Philbrick is a recognized authority on the life of George Washington, but who knew of his skills as a mariner? After his election as president, Washington set out on a series of tours to see this new country. It was a goodwill gesture to recognize the service of veterans and bind the nation together. For some locations there were specific goals, such as on Long Island he carefully and quietly thanked his team of spies, in Rhode Island he welcomed the last state to ratify the constitution into the nation and in the south he promoted the financial proposals of Alexander Hamilton. There are stories of Washington and what was recorded of his visits. You learn of the parades and pomp that greeted Washington, the response of dignitaries, his accommodations and how strenuous traveling could be. You see Washington promote an American identity to transcend state or local affiliation. Slavery hangs over the trip and the text. You learn of Washington’s overworked enslaved attendants and his pursuit of one of Martha’s escaped dower slaves. There are visits to places where slaves worked, slept and were sold. You learn of Washington’s tortured views of slavery. When Washington gets “home” between legs of this journey there is plenty to deal with. Hamilton has big plans and Jefferson who has small ones undermines him. Washington is committed to building a city for the nation’s new capital and "investors" are not fully on board. There are treaties with native Americans. On the trip you delight with Dora, a “duck tolling retriever” who swims, scampers and finds snakes. The author and wife, Melissa, connect with friends, relatives, historians, interpreters and descendants of those who met Washington. They celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Savannah, maneuver their sailboat through a water spout and more. There are maps for all trips but the southern route. The index worked the few times I checked it. The B & W photos and drawings are good. The book is well designed. It is a light enjoyable, satisfying read.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Michaud

    Giveaway review: If your a Philbrick fan (as I am) this will be a different in kind of read. While his American Revolution trilogy (centered on George Washington) was fantastic history , this was history with personal memoir which I did enjoy but wasn't used to from him. To follow the routes of GW sounds like a really cool idea that maybe I'll do one day... This is a good read but did find it boring in some parts. Also deals with Washington and slavery very honestly and fairly. Overall would rec Giveaway review: If your a Philbrick fan (as I am) this will be a different in kind of read. While his American Revolution trilogy (centered on George Washington) was fantastic history , this was history with personal memoir which I did enjoy but wasn't used to from him. To follow the routes of GW sounds like a really cool idea that maybe I'll do one day... This is a good read but did find it boring in some parts. Also deals with Washington and slavery very honestly and fairly. Overall would recommend. Now that his work on the Revolution appears to be done , can't wait to see what he does next.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Andy Gruenbaum

    The writer's dog and Washington's connections to slavery were more prominent than I preferred. The writer's dog and Washington's connections to slavery were more prominent than I preferred.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Russell

    Part first-person travel reporting, part history of the founding of the United States, part reflection on current political upheavals, "Travels with George" is the story of the author retracing several tours George Washington took in the first year or so of being President. Accompanied by his wife, Melissa, and their dog, Dora, Philbrick drives across the states that Washington would have recognized. Washington's purpose was to familiarize himself with the inhabitants and conditions in the natio Part first-person travel reporting, part history of the founding of the United States, part reflection on current political upheavals, "Travels with George" is the story of the author retracing several tours George Washington took in the first year or so of being President. Accompanied by his wife, Melissa, and their dog, Dora, Philbrick drives across the states that Washington would have recognized. Washington's purpose was to familiarize himself with the inhabitants and conditions in the nation as a whole. Philbrick's purpose is to gain an appreciation of Washington's character and deep contributions to the founding of the nation, as he sees Washington's trips also serving to help bind the country together around himself as a tangible symbol of the United States. As Philbrick travels, he reflects on the current shattered unity in our country, wondering if it can ever be regained.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Krisette Spangler

    I really struggled to rate this one. Overall, I found the information about Washington's presidency to be fascinating, and I felt that Philbrick does well in really bringing out the integrity of our first president. I finished the book feeling even more admiration for Washington than I did before, which I think was the author's intention. I had two problems with the book. The first was that Philbrick did a lot of the traveling with his dog, Dora. He spends too much time telling us what Dora was d I really struggled to rate this one. Overall, I found the information about Washington's presidency to be fascinating, and I felt that Philbrick does well in really bringing out the integrity of our first president. I finished the book feeling even more admiration for Washington than I did before, which I think was the author's intention. I had two problems with the book. The first was that Philbrick did a lot of the traveling with his dog, Dora. He spends too much time telling us what Dora was doing, and frankly, I don't care about Philbrick's dog. It was distracting, and I think most people will wonder why he included so much about her. The second thing was how much slavery was brought into the narrative. I have no problem discussing Washington and slavery. In fact, it's good that we are more open about how much the slaves contributed to the building of this nation. However, this just felt like being beat over the head with it at times, and it made you wonder what the purpose of the book really was. Overall, I would recommend the book. It gives different stories about Washington than I've seen before and really lets the reader see how precarious our nation's beginning really was. Without Washington there would not have been a United States of America. We would have been the individual states of America.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Socraticgadfly

    It's a nice mix of a light-hearted travel romp and some serious and medium-depth history. On the travel romp? Philbrick is consciously riffing on Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley," to which he refers more than once. He does Steinbeck one better by taking his wife as well as their dog. The history? About a year or so after becoming president, and having healed from an operation to remove a major carbuncle from his thigh, George Washington undertook the first of four tours of the new US under the Co It's a nice mix of a light-hearted travel romp and some serious and medium-depth history. On the travel romp? Philbrick is consciously riffing on Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley," to which he refers more than once. He does Steinbeck one better by taking his wife as well as their dog. The history? About a year or so after becoming president, and having healed from an operation to remove a major carbuncle from his thigh, George Washington undertook the first of four tours of the new US under the Constitution. That was to New England, but minus Rhode Island, which had not yet ratified the Constitution. This was by land, with two different routes in and out. Next was a pure enjoyment trip all around Long Island that included visiting some of the spies that had helped him in 1776 during and after the battles for New York City. Then, after it signed off, he went to Rhode Island. Finally, with North Carolina, like Rhode Island, having joined the Union, Washington went South. As Philbrick notes, this was actually more virgin territory for him than New England. Pre-Revolution, he'd been a bit in North Carolina. Never in South Carolina or Georgia. Along the way, Philbrick meets descendants of people closely connected with Washington's visits. He also, tying it back to today, has a critical, in the best sense, nuanced, non-whitewashing, but not randomly bashing, look at George Washington, slave owner. == Sadly, Goodreads' owner, Yellow Satan, won't let me post a review there because of wingnuts 1-starring the book, claiming Philbrick is "woke."

  9. 5 out of 5

    Kirk Dobihal

    Most excellent story of Washington's ventures into the realms of the new nation. Filled with wonderful stories of characters past and present including glimpses into the life of the author. Read this book! Most excellent story of Washington's ventures into the realms of the new nation. Filled with wonderful stories of characters past and present including glimpses into the life of the author. Read this book!

  10. 5 out of 5

    Debra

    Narrated by Nathaniel Philbrick and borrowed from NYPL. Nathaniel Philbrick is one of those authors that I would love to share dinner with.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Nursebookie

    Travels with George By Nathaniel Philbrick This was a fun travelogue and history lesson in a fun narrative by Philbrick. I learned a lot in this insightful book so well researched and equally so well written. I am somehow inspired to visit that part of the country that follows Washington's visit during the time and looking forward to what it had been over 200 years later - from Mount Vernon through New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Through historic homes and si Travels with George By Nathaniel Philbrick This was a fun travelogue and history lesson in a fun narrative by Philbrick. I learned a lot in this insightful book so well researched and equally so well written. I am somehow inspired to visit that part of the country that follows Washington's visit during the time and looking forward to what it had been over 200 years later - from Mount Vernon through New York, Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island. Through historic homes and significant historical landmarks, meeting people that keep these historical stories alive such as the re-enactors, tour guides and others, we are able to first hand see the path forged by our founding fathers. I enjoyed the writing and the insight of how history has shaped our country to what it is today.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Linda Sullivan

    Enjoyed this travel biography of George Washington and in parallel, the author Nathaniel Philbrick. Provided insight into Washington's character and goals during the first two years of his presidency as he made a progress through the 13 new states. Many interesting anecdotes about Washington that I hadn't heard before. Fun to follow with a map. Enjoyed this travel biography of George Washington and in parallel, the author Nathaniel Philbrick. Provided insight into Washington's character and goals during the first two years of his presidency as he made a progress through the 13 new states. Many interesting anecdotes about Washington that I hadn't heard before. Fun to follow with a map.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    An entertaining and different take on George Washington. We often forget that people traveled a lot- a lot- in the 18th century, despite the lack of an interstate highway system and Google Maps. Philbrick, his wife Melissa, and, of course, their dog Dora travel in Washington's footsteps in this well researched mix of history and memoir. This offers a fresh take on how Washington got to his position and stayed there, traveling throughout the new nation in an effort to unite the population. And, P An entertaining and different take on George Washington. We often forget that people traveled a lot- a lot- in the 18th century, despite the lack of an interstate highway system and Google Maps. Philbrick, his wife Melissa, and, of course, their dog Dora travel in Washington's footsteps in this well researched mix of history and memoir. This offers a fresh take on how Washington got to his position and stayed there, traveling throughout the new nation in an effort to unite the population. And, Philbrick does address the slavery issues so many others have avoided, I enjoyed the perspective offered by, for example, the reenactors. Thanks to Edelweiss for the ARC. It's an amiable travel book as much as anything but a good read that offers a bit of insight and comparisons between then and now.

  14. 4 out of 5

    David Burris

    Nathaniel Philbrick has written another exciting and entertaining book as he and his family travel the journey which George Washington took as he sought to unite the new nation as their first president. I learned historical things I did not know and felt I was welcomed to ride along with the Philbricks as they investigated. Great book and a must read.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    As someone whose college degree centered on the Revolution, I wasn't sure there would be many new things for me to learn about George Washington but I was thrilled to be proven wrong. I have enjoyed many of Philbrick's works in the past but this combination of history and travelogue is probably my new favorite! As someone whose college degree centered on the Revolution, I wasn't sure there would be many new things for me to learn about George Washington but I was thrilled to be proven wrong. I have enjoyed many of Philbrick's works in the past but this combination of history and travelogue is probably my new favorite!

  16. 5 out of 5

    Bookreporter.com Biography & Memoir

    I have been doing online movie and book reviews for about 25 years --- long enough to know that the best place to post movie reviews was a Usenet group that allowed for links into the fledgling Internet Movie Database. During that time, I learned that there are such things as fair criticism and unfair criticism; the latter happens when you complain that your expectations have been subverted. I am not quite sure what I expected from TRAVELS WITH GEORGE, in which Nathaniel Philbrick, master of the I have been doing online movie and book reviews for about 25 years --- long enough to know that the best place to post movie reviews was a Usenet group that allowed for links into the fledgling Internet Movie Database. During that time, I learned that there are such things as fair criticism and unfair criticism; the latter happens when you complain that your expectations have been subverted. I am not quite sure what I expected from TRAVELS WITH GEORGE, in which Nathaniel Philbrick, master of the narrative historical form, traces the routes taken by George Washington across the newly created United States in the early years of his presidency. I suppose I should have anticipated something along the lines of Sarah Vowell’s book, LAFAYETTE IN THE SOMEWHAT UNITED STATES, in which she puts a very modern, jaundiced spin on the French patriot and his journeys through revolutionary and post-revolutionary America. Or something elevated, similar to an expert-level class in American history --- like something out of the Ken Burns studio or the Kenneth Clark “Civilisation” series. What I wasn’t expecting was the story of how Philbrick and his wife took their very active and furry dog on an outing, which led the pooch to jump into a stagnant pond filled with green goo. The Philbricks tried to clean their pet in a hyper-modern, bone-white hotel room, with predictable and messy consequences. TRAVELS WITH GEORGE is just that, placing the travels (and real travails) of George Washington throughout New England and Long Island alongside trips taken by the Philbricks using the same route (or close enough). There is a lot of history in the book; Philbrick does an outstanding job telling the story of Washington’s first inauguration in New York, detailing the triumphal journey through Philadelphia and Trenton, and the political calculation of the brown suit (crafted in America) that he wore to the ceremony. All of that is coupled with a good bit of interesting historical travel guidance. There are several places that Philbrick visits where I plan to go myself once we get past the pandemic. But a lot of the story is about the issues that Philbrick, his wife and his dog experience along the way --- including the harrowing tale of their sea voyage from Nantucket to Newport that was interrupted by a tornado of all things. It is not necessarily bad criticism to point out that if you are someone who would roll your eyes about Philbrick stopping the narrative to tell a (hilarious) story about his dog, you are going to have an issue. But I think it is unfair criticism to say that this sort of thing is wrong, or even self-indulgent. Even if you were to say it is self-indulgent (and you might not be wrong), I mean, come on. This is Nathaniel Philbrick we’re talking about. If you or I had put together a body of historical literature to rival his, we might be self-indulgent, too. However, the focus of the book, where it should rightly be, is on George Washington. Philbrick quotes the various legends where a young patriot, brought to view the famed general, blurts out that Washington is “just a man.” Philbrick portrays him as very human --- annoyed by sub-par hostelries and snubbed by John Hancock, and subject to disease and tooth decay. And he does not shy away from the long shadow cast over Washington’s reputation by the enslavement of his fellow men and women, focusing on his abuse of his presidential power in attempts to recover a fugitive from Mount Vernon. Still, the star of the narrative is not really Washington, Philbrick or the dog. It is the growing country, the fledgling States becoming United, the reunions of Washington with his doughty soldiers, the little towns that preserved mementoes of the visit, the young people who remembered seeing Washington for the rest of their lives. It is these stories that make TRAVELS WITH GEORGE memorable and vital. Reviewed by Curtis Edmonds

  17. 5 out of 5

    Laurie

    I really enjoyed "In the Heart of the Sea", but other Philbrick books have been a struggle for me. I had higher hopes for "Travels with George", however the transitions between Washington's journey and Philbrick's travels with his wife made it difficult for me to stay interested in the book. I enjoyed hearing about Washington's time in various locations as well as the commentary about those locations today, but other anecdotes disrupted the flow of the book. Nathaniel Philbrick definitely knows I really enjoyed "In the Heart of the Sea", but other Philbrick books have been a struggle for me. I had higher hopes for "Travels with George", however the transitions between Washington's journey and Philbrick's travels with his wife made it difficult for me to stay interested in the book. I enjoyed hearing about Washington's time in various locations as well as the commentary about those locations today, but other anecdotes disrupted the flow of the book. Nathaniel Philbrick definitely knows his history, but this book just wasn't for me. Thank you, NetGalley, for the ARC.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Dianne

    I think this is the first book by Philbrick I have read, but on the basis of this one, I will definitely read more. He and his wife and their dog set out to follow the routes taken by George Washington, in the year following his inauguration as the first President of the United States. In an effort to take the pulse of the people and discover how they are feeling about the new United States and if they are happy with his plans, he heads to the northern states first, then heads south, where he exp I think this is the first book by Philbrick I have read, but on the basis of this one, I will definitely read more. He and his wife and their dog set out to follow the routes taken by George Washington, in the year following his inauguration as the first President of the United States. In an effort to take the pulse of the people and discover how they are feeling about the new United States and if they are happy with his plans, he heads to the northern states first, then heads south, where he expects to find more discontent. Philbrick intersperses his own observations on how things seem to him today, as a contrast to the situations Washington found himself in, as well as interesting excerpts from writings of Washington's time to illuminate what was going on. The author emphasizes the uneasy state of the Union at this point, so soon after the forming of the new nation, and it becomes very clear how similar are the divisions and tensions of today to those of Washington's time. It's also interesting to hear about the personalities of other famous figures of the time, and Washington's opinions and reactions to them. Although I knew Washington was a slaveholder, I hadn't realized the ambivalence he felt about the issue at first, or some of the bad choices he made in attempting to preserve his wife Martha's "assets" inherited from her first husband. While he did make provision to free his slaves on his own death, he definitely doesn't come across as a knight in shining armor around this issue. The style is very clear and approachable, and the book is a pleasure to read. I enjoyed the illustrations, too -- lots of route maps and photos of places of historical interest. Really enjoyable read...

  19. 4 out of 5

    Zachary

    If you were curious what it is like to travel with Philbrick's dog, mixed in with some of his musings about John Steinbeck, his favorite type of car, etc. this may be the book for you. There are a few bright spots in the book, but those are drown in irrelevant tangents and his own unsupported speculations about George Washington. Based on the title and description, I thought this book might be a little like "How the Word is Passed," explaining the authors journey, while also diving into the hist If you were curious what it is like to travel with Philbrick's dog, mixed in with some of his musings about John Steinbeck, his favorite type of car, etc. this may be the book for you. There are a few bright spots in the book, but those are drown in irrelevant tangents and his own unsupported speculations about George Washington. Based on the title and description, I thought this book might be a little like "How the Word is Passed," explaining the authors journey, while also diving into the historical subject. If that is what Philbrick was attempting to do here, he failed, this is just his journey, without facts. A couple examples. He talks about how George Washington's dog, Cornwallis, may have acted, compared to the authors own dog. Philbrick then reveals that the dog version of Cornwallis is a myth. He just wanted an excuse to talk about his dog more. Additionally, he speculates about historic facts, like the authorship of various documents, without any support. If you are interested in learning about Washington, you can find a much better book.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Charlie Shaw

    Extremely boring account of Washington's travels around the states after his election so that he could "take the pulse" of the peoples in the various states in order to form a more perfect union. Extremely boring account of Washington's travels around the states after his election so that he could "take the pulse" of the peoples in the various states in order to form a more perfect union.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Samantha

    Road trip with George Washington! This was an exceptionally bizarre concept for a book, but it worked beautifully. I loved this strange combination of travelogue, memoir, and history. Nathaniel Philbrick breaks from his typical style of chronicling history to bring us this delightful adventure, in which he, his wife, and his dog Dora embark on a road trip following the path of George Washington from the point at which he is elected the first President of the United States. I was unsure about the f Road trip with George Washington! This was an exceptionally bizarre concept for a book, but it worked beautifully. I loved this strange combination of travelogue, memoir, and history. Nathaniel Philbrick breaks from his typical style of chronicling history to bring us this delightful adventure, in which he, his wife, and his dog Dora embark on a road trip following the path of George Washington from the point at which he is elected the first President of the United States. I was unsure about the format at first, as I’m not big on memoirs and tend to be bothered when authors insert themselves into the narrative, but Philbrick’s participation in the story turns out to be one of the best parts of Travels with George. He does a fantastic job of making the book feel personal and like an adventure that comes to life for the reader without ever taking away from his primary subject. If you know a lot about Washington, some of the information included will be familiar to you, but some is entirely new, and the unique format made it such that even what I already knew about Washington felt new because of the way it was presented. Philbrick teaches the reader about a lot more than just the first President as well. From sailing to duck tollers, there’s all kinds of fun things packed into this delightful narration. Philbrick approaches Washington fairly and honestly, criticizing when modern standards require it, and also gently reminding the reader that we need to remember all of history, both the good and the bad, and that sometimes that means acknowledging both the good and the bad of one individual. If you want an informative but fun and adventurous look at our first President, I can’t think of a better place to get it than here in Travels with George. *I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.*

  22. 5 out of 5

    Mary Robinson

    This was a delightful look at George Washington outlined as the author traveled the routs Washington himself traversed during the first years of his presidency. All the while, the author debunks some urban legends we all know about our first president and delves into what he might have thought of the United States today. Very well researched and written, it is still quite an enjoyable read and very approachable. From the epilogue, Philbrick concludes "If our country is ever going to improve in t This was a delightful look at George Washington outlined as the author traveled the routs Washington himself traversed during the first years of his presidency. All the while, the author debunks some urban legends we all know about our first president and delves into what he might have thought of the United States today. Very well researched and written, it is still quite an enjoyable read and very approachable. From the epilogue, Philbrick concludes "If our country is ever going to improve in the future, we need to look the past full in the face today, and there, at the very beginning, is our first president: a slaveholder, a land baron, a general, and a politician, who believed with all his soul in the Union" Highly recommend!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Alisa

    Probably best for readers already familiar with the geography of the east coast of the U.S. as well as those with an interest in reading the travel journal of an older couple and their dog. For this west coaster, the history was dry, the modern day travel too filled with quotidian details, and there were not enough pictures or maps for context. Did not finish

  24. 5 out of 5

    Lily

    This book can be compared somewhat to Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck; Nathaniel Philbrick even mentions that book several times throughout his own book, even to telling a story at the end of sitting by Steinbeck's widow at a dinner. I enjoyed both books tremendously as it felt like I could see where they were visiting. Steinbeck took his dog on his travels, and Philbrick took his dog and his wife in 2019. As the author mentions, many have written about George Washington's travels pre-ina This book can be compared somewhat to Travels with Charley by John Steinbeck; Nathaniel Philbrick even mentions that book several times throughout his own book, even to telling a story at the end of sitting by Steinbeck's widow at a dinner. I enjoyed both books tremendously as it felt like I could see where they were visiting. Steinbeck took his dog on his travels, and Philbrick took his dog and his wife in 2019. As the author mentions, many have written about George Washington's travels pre-inaugural and continuing after his inauguration. He traveled with a small entourage including his white steed, and he rode in a open carriage. The trip was from April 16 1789-1791 from New England to Georgia broken up into different trips. Mr. Philbrick juxtaposes his time traveling with Washington's, which is very interesting and informative due to the fact that the author interviews people and visits places that are in the know about that history. He gives many anecdotes of his own and of the president's. He even goes into the political climate of that time--especially those involving Jefferson. Explaining slavery is quite well involved in this book, too. Evidently, Washington was the only one of the founding fathers who made provision to free his slaves (upon his death--it seemed pretty complicated due to the fact that his wife's slaves were from her former marriage).

  25. 5 out of 5

    Tracy Flannery

    Historian and author Nat Philbrick takes his wife, Melissa, and their dog, Dora, on a multi-week adventure following the travels of George Washington after his election to the newly formed US government. The Philbricks' more comfortable transportation and lodging, coupled with the frequently humorous episodes with Dora (think muddied post-romp shenanigans on pristine white sheets at a "hipster" get-away) stand juxtaposed to Washington's shock-less carriage ride and sometimes spartan lodgings. Th Historian and author Nat Philbrick takes his wife, Melissa, and their dog, Dora, on a multi-week adventure following the travels of George Washington after his election to the newly formed US government. The Philbricks' more comfortable transportation and lodging, coupled with the frequently humorous episodes with Dora (think muddied post-romp shenanigans on pristine white sheets at a "hipster" get-away) stand juxtaposed to Washington's shock-less carriage ride and sometimes spartan lodgings. The fact that my husband, our two black Labs and I had road-tripped three years ago gave me a connection to the story that others might not appreciate. Philbrick's style is different in this book and may disappoint his more hard-core history buff fans. But there is history abound in his newest book (enough for this reader at least) and the personal vignettes about Philbrick and one of our founding fathers are honest, balanced and charming.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Michelle Metzler

    Enjoyable but more of a travel log with history bits mixed in. Full of history and local lore in the first half going through the northeast but then kind of glossed over the southeastern portion which was disappointing. Appreciated the critical look at slavery during the beginning of the nation. It’s important to remember that men like Washington were not morally superior, very flawed, and sometimes outright evil.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sam Sattler

    Nathaniel Philbrick’s Travels with George is one of those books that appeals to readers on multiple levels. In my case, it particularly appeals because it recounts a modern road trip that exactly mimics the one taken by George Washington in 1789 only six months after his inauguration as America’s first president. But, in addition to being a book about identical road trips separated by centuries, Philbrick also explores Washington’s intimate involvement in the enslavement of Africans and their de Nathaniel Philbrick’s Travels with George is one of those books that appeals to readers on multiple levels. In my case, it particularly appeals because it recounts a modern road trip that exactly mimics the one taken by George Washington in 1789 only six months after his inauguration as America’s first president. But, in addition to being a book about identical road trips separated by centuries, Philbrick also explores Washington’s intimate involvement in the enslavement of Africans and their descendants for the benefit of himself and his wife’s family. Washington knew in 1789 that the country he had been elected to help govern could fall apart much more quickly than it had been created. Governors of the thirteen former colonies, to a man, still considered their state boundaries as the “country” in which they lived. Two states, North Carolina and Rhode Island, had not even ratified the Constitution by the time that Washington’s inauguration came. And that is precisely why Washington hit the road. The brand new president decided it was time for him to make himself available to ordinary citizens so that they could express their concerns about the new government directly to him. At the same time, Washington hoped to convince the people he spoke with that they now had a new identity in common with everyone else in the former colonies: they were Americans. Some 229 years later (in 2018), Nathaniel Philbrick decided to follow in Washington’s tracks to see if the people in America were any more united today than they were when Washington first embarked on his own travels. Washington began his trip by traveling through the New England states, but he bypassed Rhode Island until that state finally ratified the Constitution. The president would only, in fact, visit Rhode Island after the state’s ratification of the document, and he combined that portion of his road trip with a tour of Long Island where it is believed he spent time with several of the anonymous spies who were instrumental in key military victories over the British. A second, even longer, road trip was undertaken a few months later during which all of the Southern states were visited. Washington was happy to learn during this portion of his tour of America that the expected opposition from Southern leaders was not as common as he had feared it to be. It is unlikely that any other national figure could have united the former colonies as quickly or as securely as George Washington managed it through his reputation, words, and action. During his travels, the purposely accessible new president stayed in public inns rather than in the much more comfortable, and private, homes of political allies who would have been happy to offer him shelter. He also despised all the pomp and ceremony that so many local dignitaries wanted him to sit through, and despite being a very private man, he made sure that everyone at least got a look at him if they wanted one. Washington, though, was far from perfect. He owned slaves, his wife owned slaves, and the family’s profiteering from slavery cannot be glossed over. Philbrick, to his credit, takes an approach to the past that I appreciate: he hides nothing, but he never forgets that: “A reckoning is going on in which many Americans have come to wonder whether anything from our country’s history is worth saving. People from the past — even from just a few decades ago — will inevitably fail to meet the evolving standards of the present. That does not mean they failed to meet in their own imperfect way, the challenges of their own time as best they could.” (Page 171) I wish more people, historians included, would keep this in mind. Bottom Line: I thoroughly enjoyed the comparisons that Philbrick makes between what he and his wife encounter on the road and what Washington saw in the same locations two centuries earlier. This country may be just as divided today as it was during Washington’s first term as president but the union held then, and what Philbrick heard from strangers during his own travels gives me confidence that the same will be true today. George Washington was a remarkable man, someone who came along at precisely the moment he was needed most. Washington sensed that he had the power and the charisma to make the United States into whatever he wanted it to be, even into a dictatorship if he chose to do so. But as Philbrick says, “…his (Washington’s) only interest was in establishing a federal government that was strong enough to survive without him.” And he did it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    June Price

    On the surface, this book sounds rather simple. The author and his wife, not to mention their dog, will trace the travel route George Washington took post-election as the first president. Their dog Dora, a Toller, aka Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, accompanies them because, according to legend, Washington was accompanied by his dog on the journey. As a long-time history buff, college history major, and then a history teacher, I felt an immediate connection to the big idea, not to mention I' On the surface, this book sounds rather simple. The author and his wife, not to mention their dog, will trace the travel route George Washington took post-election as the first president. Their dog Dora, a Toller, aka Nova Scotia Duck Tolling Retriever, accompanies them because, according to legend, Washington was accompanied by his dog on the journey. As a long-time history buff, college history major, and then a history teacher, I felt an immediate connection to the big idea, not to mention I've been owned by a Toller. As a result, even though #NetGallery didn't approve me for an official review there, I simply couldn't resist at least a quick review. There is a great deal to take in from the book. Not only is history and the very human characters behind the historical events recounted, author Philbrick shares his own adventures as they follow the same then barely trail in places that was taken by Washington and those who accompanied him. Philbrick doesn't shy away from Washington's ownership of slaves, I was happy to see, including the account of one of his wife's dower slaves (inherited) who escaped and his efforts to retrieve her. Washington lost a few points with me on this one but did finally release his slaves upon his death. The dower slaves owned by his wife by way of inheritance, btw, remained slaves until Martha Washington freed them some time after her husband's death. Sadly, she didn't seem in any rush to do so. Aside from this, other events, places, and personalities are seen within this 300+ page work. There is so much packed into this book that I couldn't even begin to detail it. I loved the look at characters most of us only really know from faded history books, especially that Philbrook was able to look at them in their times as well as frequently find humor in events. To show how up-to-date the book is, when discussing visiting "the room where it happened," note the "Hamilton" musical nod, Philbrook laughing recalls having the bench that Lin-Manuel Miranda sat on to write that general section of the musical pointed out to him. He was also shown a plaque later in the journey that read "Washington dripped here", a bit of a change from the ones along the route about Washington having slept or eaten in places. You'll have to read the book to find out what was meant because I'm not telling. You need to read it all, take it all in, think, and ponder all that Philbrick's work reveals to us without us having to go to the extent that he did to gain the insight the experience gave him. Bottom line, while being informative and entertainingly written, the book made me think. It was hard not to see the parallels of current political differences erupting from the pages of history. Just as our nation was evolving at the time Washington made the then incredible journey of over a thousand miles, our nation continues to evolve and, yes, erupt at times. Makes me wonder how some author a hundred plus years in the future will look back on our own era. Yes, this book made me curious, chuckle, and, think. If you're a history buff or just want to know more about what brought us to this point of time from the beginning days of our nation, "Travels With George" should be on your reading list. Published by #Viking, and imprint of #PenguinRandomHouse, 2021

  29. 4 out of 5

    Stephen

    Travels with George couldn’t help but be interesting, what with its premise of the author following George Washington’s footsteps in an reenactment of his tour of the united States during his first term in office. Its promising mix of history and travel is marred (to what degree may be determined by the reader’s taste) by the author’s frequent inclusion of irrelevant stories about himself, and even more chronic infusion of contemporary politics with the text. As a work of history, I was not impr Travels with George couldn’t help but be interesting, what with its premise of the author following George Washington’s footsteps in an reenactment of his tour of the united States during his first term in office. Its promising mix of history and travel is marred (to what degree may be determined by the reader’s taste) by the author’s frequent inclusion of irrelevant stories about himself, and even more chronic infusion of contemporary politics with the text. As a work of history, I was not impressed in the least by the text, but it was frequently interesting, comparable to Sarah Vowell’s history tourism but with her dry humor replaced by constant fretting ruminations on slavery and American history. Washington is, as one biographer describes him, the American Demigod. His stature dwarves all others, and countless places in the United States are named in his honor – including a certain city along the Potomac which hasn’t deserved the honor in decades. Philbrick took this journey in hopes of meeting the human Washington, however, the traveler who would be grappling with storms, delays, and bad taverns, not necessarily questions of national consequence. Washington’s role as President and Father of his Country sat on him regardless of travel demands, though, for as the Constitution was still being ratified by two last holdouts, the new polity’s nature was his to imbue with authority and legitimacy. His ‘journey’, or rather journeys, were practical in that Washington had to travel to the moving capital – first to New York, then to Philadelphia, and then to a site upon the Potomac that would be called the Federal City in its first decades Although the author is ostensibly focused on covering Washington’s horse-and-carriage tour of the nation, a lot of other revolutionary and other history is woven in, some of it connected to Washington and some not. (Philbrick keeps trying to work in Henry and Bess Truman, as well as John Steinbeck, into the text, when he’s not sharing his own travel experiences, few of which are interesting except for his sailboat encounter with a tornado while sailing to Newport.) Despite its flaws, I mostly enjoyed Travels with George, largely because of its premise and the strength of the central subject, who I count as one of the most admirable men in history. I found it deeply flawed, though, both by the author’s inability to stay on topic and by his very-Whig history approach to the national story. Most odiously, he dismissed all critics of the early Constitution as southern slaveholders, as though Sam Adams and Luther Martin didn’t exist, and that no motives could possibly exist for opposing the centralization of power aside from the self-interest of an economic minority. (Author is also apparently oblivious to the existence of southerners besides the slave-holding patricians, as are most people. Vanishingly few books have been written about southern yeomen or poor whites.) While I don’t necessarily recommend the book, it’s enjoyable enough, and there are numerous drinking games which could be fabricated from the author’s frequent mentions of his dog, irrelevant sidelines, and political lectures.

  30. 4 out of 5

    I. David

    A Wonderful Trip Through a Time Past with a Charming Historian Please visit I. David’s blog at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... Travels with George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy, author Nathaniel Philbrook, retraces George Washington’s trips to New England, Rhode Island and the South where he visited with citizens of the newly minted United States of America. Philbrook wholeheartedly succeeds in describing the new President’s travels. But what makes this book truly enjoyable is t A Wonderful Trip Through a Time Past with a Charming Historian Please visit I. David’s blog at https://www.goodreads.com/author/show... Travels with George: In Search of Washington and His Legacy, author Nathaniel Philbrook, retraces George Washington’s trips to New England, Rhode Island and the South where he visited with citizens of the newly minted United States of America. Philbrook wholeheartedly succeeds in describing the new President’s travels. But what makes this book truly enjoyable is the opportunity to ride along with the delightful author, his wife, Mellisa and their dog, Dora, as they follow in Washington’s steps. After the Constitution was enacted and George Washington was elected President there was no real consensus about how this country was actually going to operate. Washington felt that one of his first orders of business was to reassure his constituents that their country was in good hands. He, therefore, took three trips, one throughout the New England states, one to Rhode Island (which was one of the last states to approve the Constitution) and one to the Southern states. In Travels with George, Nathaniel Philbrook, along with his wife, Melissa and their dog Dora, retrace these three trips. Philbrook is an award winning author who has written extensively about colonial and post-colonial times in America. In Travels with George he provides extensive incites into the things that would have concerned Washington at the time of his trips - his health, the question of slavery, establishment of the Capital in Washington, DC, the quarrels between the Federalists (led by Alexander Hamilton) and the Anti-Federalists (led by Thomas Jefferson), and what would become of Mount Vernon after he is gone. Most importantly, Philbrook shows that Washington’s greatest concern was what he could do to establish practices and procedures that would reflect a true single government for the thirteen new states. With respect to the actual trips, Philbrook describes an exhausting series of celebrations welcoming Washington to each town he visited. He explains that Washington was able to maintain his dignity throughout and was always a man of quiet grace and charisma who was viewed by all as the heroic embodiment of the new central government. As such, Washington succeeded in rallying support for that government. Unlike his other books, Philbrook made this one personal. With his wife and his dog, as traveling companions, he describes his own experiences retracing Washington’s travels. And he effectively invites the reader along as a “remote” traveling companion. Through Philbrook the reader meets local historians and descendants of those who were there in Washington’s time. During the trip he manages to debunk some myths about Washington and to confirm others. It turns out that Washington did not sleep everywhere that claims to have had him as a guest. Nathaniel Philbrook is a highly engaging person who has made history his life’s work. I cannot imagine a better traveling companion and I was sorry to have to say goodbye when the book ended. I give this book 5 stars and recommend it for all.

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