Thursday, April 27, 2017

Washington’s Farewell by John Avlon

Title: Washington’s Farewell
Author: John Avlon
Read by: John Avlon
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
Length: Approximately 10 hours and 4 minutes
Source: Simon & Schuster Audio Digital Review Copy – Thank-you!

George Washington set a precedent when he decided not to run for a third term of office.  He wanted to show the world he was not a monarch in power for his entire life as well as what a peaceful transfer of power looked like.  When he decided to step down, he also decided he wanted to write a farewell address for the American people that would be printed in papers across the nation so that the average citizen could read his thoughts and guidance for what the country should do to be a successful democracy.

In Washington’s Farewell, Jon Avlon writes of how Washington shaped the farewell with his ideas, but also with help from other founding fathers including James Madison, Thomas Jefferson, and Alexander Hamilton.  He focused on a lot of issues, but mainly on avoiding hyper-partisanship, excessive debt, and foreign wars.  Washington was our only president who didn’t belong to a party and tried to stay above the fray of the party bickering to make sure the country ran well and for the best of the citizens.  He was afraid that the two party system would lead to Americans feeling that other Americans are enemies due to their political affiliation and that it could lead to a rise of a demagogue.  It’s very interesting to read this in our current political atmosphere.

I also enjoyed that Washington’s Farewell included biographical information about Washington himself.  I’ve always found his life to be fascinating and want to know more.  There were new details I didn’t remember learning before such as the fact that Martha Washington was not happy about Washington being president and did not attend his inauguration.

The later part of the book included how Washington’s Farewell address has been used by the Presidents who followed him and how they have adapted it and learned from it.  It’s interesting how the presidency changes people once they assume the office.

The book ended with the reading of Washington’s Farewell address in its entirety which I found very interesting.  I don’t believe I’ve ever read or heard the Farewell address which is sad.  Especially as this was once a required document like Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address that everyone read.  I think it should be brought back to the classroom!

I enjoyed that the author referenced Hamilton the musical and even interviewed Lin Manual for the book.  It made me listen again to the musical with a fresh eye on Hamilton’s involvement in the creation of Washington’s Farewell address.

The author, Jon Avlon, narrated this book himself which I enjoyed.  It was a captivating account of history to entertain me on my daily commute.

Overall, Washington’s Farewell is a fascinating look into an important document that includes words of wisdom from our founding father that are relevant to our current times.

1 comment:

  1. Laura, this sounds informative and entertaining. I'd love to learn more about Washington's farewell address. Wonderful review!