After the brats and popsicles and before the fireworks, many families might spend some of their Fourth of July recounting the bravery and selflessness of America’s first president. Author Peter Stark tells a slightly different story, one of a young and naïve George Washington, who only later became the fearless leader as we remember him.
Stark’s new book, Young Washington: How Wilderness and War Forged America’s Founding Father, follows a 20-something Washington crashing his way through the wilderness of the Ohio Valley, climbing the social ladder and accidentally starting the French and Indian War.
The typical image we have of Washington propagated in history actually does a "big disservice to Americans," says Stark. He says readers need to know how even a leader of Washington's magnitude transformed himself.
"We have sense of this guy who’s born selfless, faultless judgement, you know sort of an immaculately conceived Man-God who arrives on the scene and he leads the colonies to independence and becomes the first president. And that’s not the way it happened at all," he notes.
Within his book, Stark reveals a more relatable Washington. “This more vulnerable, more accessible George Washington is one that I find far more inspirational,” says Stark. This is the Washington who was so ready to gain noteriety that he threatened to quit the British army on seven separate occasions and claimed the sound of bullets whistling was charming. "Young Washington" offers a new and inspirational perspective of how the first president had to change himself before he could change the course of history.