Washington: The Indispensable Man by James Thomas Flexner

General Description (from BN.com)
After more than two decades, this dramatic and concise single-volume distillation of James Thomas Flexner’s definitive four-volume biography George Washington, which received a Pulitzer Prize citation and a National Book Award for the fourth volume, has itself become an American classic. Now in a new trade paperback edition, this masterful work explores the Father of Our Country – sometimes an unpopular hero, a man of great contradictions, but always a towering historical figure, who remains, as Flexner writes in these pages, “a fallible human being made of flesh and blood and spirit – not a statue of marble and wood… a great and good man.” The author unflinchingly paints a portrait of Washington: slave owner, brave leader, man of passion, reluctant politician, and fierce general. His complex character and career are neither glorified nor vilified here; rather, Flexner sets up a brilliant counterpoint between Washington’s public and private lives and gives us a challenging look at the man who has become as much a national symbol as the American flag.

Why the President Should Read This Book
If we can’t say that Washington should be studied more than any other US President, it certainly would not be a stretch to say he should be studied as much as any other. The specific value this book brings to the table is that it is a biography of Washington the man, rather than Washington the god. It examines his shortcomings, without indulging in gratuitous criticism, as well as his strengths. It explains his thoughts on the Revolutionary War, the Constitution, and slavery. If you want to know Washington, you should read more than one book, but this book should definitely be on the list.

Personal Note
I had never heard of this book until I was at a friend’s birthday party and met an older gentleman who had studied US history extensively. I asked him what one book on Washington I should read, and without hesitation he recommended this one. It was a good recommendation.