DK Biography: George Washington: A Photographic Story of a Life
I would give it 2 stars, but does have excellent pictures, as is the custom of DK books, so I suppose it deserves a 3 overall, but no more. This is, overall, NOT a good kid's biography of George Washington.
I am a Chinese American, recently naturalized, and in preparation of homeschooling my kids I got this book with high expectations. I've always known that Washington was voted unanimously into presidency, and I want to know why - what is so great about this guy?
I finished the book and cannot tell you why. The book never explained it, except the author hints here and there that the people thought highly of Washington for no apparent reason:
"The new commander was an instant American idol...Congress voted him a gold medal and Harvard University awarded the unschooled general an honorary doctor's degree before he had commanded a single battle." (p.45)
The latest trend in historical studies appears to be an overwhelming interest in digging up dirt of previously respected figures. While slow to praise, this book is quick to point out that Washington "swore...till the leaves shook on the trees" (p.64) on one occasion according to some observer, and "Washington was known to pay slaves who volunteered to have teeth yanked out and used in his dentures." (p.80)
Is it really necessary to report that some guy heard Washington swore one time? And does it make sense to yank teeth out of people - if one needs human teeth for dentures, why not get it out of corpses?
In the end, the book makes sure you know that "Washington was no saint...no military genius, and he lost many more battles than he won." (p.115) Trust me, by the time you get to the end, your brain will not be thinking of Washington as a saint at all, so the sentence is worthless except to reveal the author's goal: to dispel any misconceptions out there that might consider Washington a saint.
The book is crummy because it messed up on page 71. I can't imagine DK making such a fatal publishing error. The last line of p.71 reads
"to surprise Cornwallis at Yorktown. Washington himself"
Washington himself what? I turned over the page and read the first line:
"Martha was there, and so were her son, Jacky."
I guess I'll never know what Washington himself did. I am a fan of DK publishing, as they always come up with top quality work, but this book is seriously shaking my faith in them. Hopefully it is an isolated incident.