Wednesday, July 4, 2012

THE BOOKs THAT IMPACTED ME MOST? One was a bio of George Washington

A friend posed a really great question to me today--"Of all the books you've read, which has had the greatest impact on you?"

Great question, right?

Without question, no book or books equal the the scriptures for the power they've had in my life to educate, uplift, forewarn, provide hope, illuminate the power and love of God as well as the best and worse of man. But what of the works of men?

The book that leapt to my mind, and then remained my first choice, was a biography of George Washington, written by Mary Higgins Clark, and titled "Mount Vernon Love Story." It was her first novel, I believe, and it came into my hands when I was reworking "Dawn's Early Light," the first volume in my Free Men and Dreamers series. I had just moved the story back a generation, to the War of 1812, and I was feeling overwhelmed and unsure about where to begin, and what I wanted to say from this new perspective of the first American generation. That's when I received this book.

It wasn't a complex, controversial dissection of this Founding Father. Neither was it a scholarly political treatise. It was what it was meant to be--a tender glimpse into George Washington, the man--a subdued son; an admiring younger brother; a young surveyor mapping the wilderness as he learned to track; a love-struck youth; a loyal soldier who beheld the horrors of war early on which helped him become a wise leader, beloved by his men.

As the title would suggest, this book also portrayed the family elements of George Washington— the devoted husband, the farmer who longed to return his attentions to working the earth; the veteran who long suffered the deleterious effects of warring; the saddened father, unable to produce a child of his own; the doting step-father who dedicated himself to the needs of his stepchildren, his grandchildren and his friend’s children when political danger threatened Lafayette’s own son.

The child George Washington loved most was, perhaps, America. I appreciated this sweetly-written reminder of the conflicts that ensued within the physically-ailing Washington who longed for a quiet life, ultimately rising to accept unrelenting calls to serve as captain of an infant nation.

I loved this book for helping me learn to love this great man. . .

For providing a launch point for further study and a basis from which to measure other accounts of Washington’s life and service. . .

For reminding me that he and his contemporaries were, after all, just men, though their foresight about our nation’s future possibilities and dangers, ascribed to the help of the divine, was nearly prophetic. . .

For also reminding me that people must be judged within the context of their own times. To do otherwise—to measure their decisions against the wisdom, ethics and morays of our day is as unfair as measuring the contributions of the geniuses behind the Industrial Revolution solely by the effects of Global Warming. . .

For illustrating the modest, steadfast character of a political giant who could have made himself a king, but who instead placed the good of the people ahead of his own self-interest. . .

For launching my study of the Founders, which ultimately influenced by writing, my career, my patriotism, and my life.

For illuminating how we have minimized Washington and his contemporaries. . .

For reminding me that we still need giants and heroes. . .

A great book can change lives. What book has impacted you in a profound way? I hope you’re reading something wonderful, something inspiring, something life-changing today.


  1. Like you, I had a journey as I read a biography though my trek was with Benjamin Franklin. (Now that I've read this post, I'm hoping over to Amazon to pick up the Washington biography.)
    Despite his vast intelligence, Franklin was mortal and subject to temptations which he rationalized away for most of his life. The author did a fantastic job of showing how Franklin evolved. By the time he passed from this life, he became the man we all admire both in character and faith. That time to grow is a gift to all of us. It made me take a hard look at my own life; where did the path I trod lead to? Was it somewhere worth going? Was there a better way? Good book!
    Thanks for the recommendation.

  2. Thanks for yor thoughtful comment, Christina. I think the questions you raise are excellent, and now I'll be searching for a similar book about Mr. Franklin.

  3. I was wondering whether you would be happy to put up a link in my monthly series called “Books You Love”. The idea is for people to link up posts about a book they loved. It could be an old fave. I am hoping we will end up with a nice collection of books that can go on our reading lists. Here is the link Books You Loved July Edition

  4. Thanks for linking this in. If you check back in a few days there should be quite a collection of books you might be interested in.
    Have a good day.

  5. Just to let you know that your review has been featured today on Carole's Chatter. Have a good week.