by Douglas Southall Freeman, Collier Books, 792 pages
Douglas Southall Freeman spent the last eight and a half years of his life working on his monumental seven-volume biography of George Washington. Fifteen years after his death in 1953, an able abridgment appeared. Richard Harwell, who distilled the original 3,582 pages down to 754, wrote that “Washington’s life … has withstood many bad books. Freeman’s is certainly one of the few that it has deserved. George Washington is the true and complete story—fully researched, felicitously written, and unembellished by foolish myth or by false and pretentious piety.” Now the one-volume Freeman is back in print, in a hefty, handsome paperback edition. It is both a wholly absorbing narrative and a salutary reminder that its subject is every bit as great as you were told he was in grade school.