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George Washington's Mount Vernon: At Home in Revolutionary America
 
 

George Washington's Mount Vernon: At Home in Revolutionary America [Kindle Edition]

Robert F. Dalzell , Lee Baldwin Dalzell
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)

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Review

"Washington was both the most indispensable and the most inaccessible of all the founders. In most histories he floats above the revolutionary era like a platitude. Here we finally get him grounded, palpable and human, off guard, at home."--Josepth J. Ellis, author of American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson"This thoughtful, well-written study casts important light on the evolution of Mount Vernon and the relationship of Washington and his home to the American Revolution. Part of really getting to know Washington will now be to read the Dalzells' book."--Don Higginbotham, Dowd Professor, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill"George Washington's Mount Vernon interweaves architectural history, social history, and biography into a complex and entrancing story of a man and his house. That George Washington kept improving Mount Vernon to the end of his life, while laboring to bring the nation into existence, is evidence of architecture's power of the gentry imagi

Product Description

George Washington's Mount Vernon brings together--for the first time--the details of Washington's 45-year endeavor to build and perfect Mount Vernon. In doing so it introduces us to a Washington few of his contemporaries knew, and one little noticed by historians since.
Here we meet the planter/patriot who also genuinely loved building, a man passionately human in his desire to impress on his physical surroundings the stamp of his character and personal beliefs. As chief architect and planner of the countless changes made at Mount Vernon over the years, Washington began by imitating accepted models of fashionable taste, but as time passed he increasingly followed his own ideas. Hence, architecturally, as the authors show, Mount Vernon blends the orthodox and the innovative in surprising ways, just as the new American nation would. Equally interesting is the light the book sheds on the process of building at Mount Vernon, and on the people--slave and free--who did the work. Washington was a demanding master, and in their determination to preserve their own independence his workers often clashed with him. Yet, as the Dalzells argue, that experience played a vital role in shaping his hopes for the future of American society--hope that embraced in full measure the promise of the revolution in which he had led his fellow citizens.
George Washington's Mount Vernon thus compellingly combines the two sides of Washington's life--the public and the private--and uses the combination to enrich our understanding of both. Gracefully written, with more than 80 photographs, maps, and engravings, the book tells a fascinating story with memorable insight.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 15859 KB
  • Print Length: 324 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA (24 Sep 1998)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S. r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B006BY2CT6
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A story at the heart of the republic 12 Nov 1998
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
I openned this book expecting to read a story about a house and how it was built. I was surprised, and impressed, to discover that what went on as Mt. Vernon took form was far more interesting than I had expected. This is not so much a book about a house as it is the story of how George Washington related to the slaves on whom he relied to execute his architecture. In other words, the story here reverberates far beyond the boundaries of the plantation. It went to the heart of the republic, and it goes to the heart of this nation. Slavery is encoded in our national DNA (sorry, Jefferson). The Dalzells make it clear that it is also mortared in the wood and plaster (cut and painted to look like stone) of our national edifice. Are you tormented, or at least intrigued, that a slaveowner could style himself father of a republic dedicated to freedom? Maybe Washington was, too. Find out. Visit Mt. Vernon, and do it by reading this book.
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Was this review helpful to you?
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
Mount Vernon was both architecturally innovative and a true mirror of Washington's feelings and mind. He never wrote an autobiography and his diaries consist largely of farm accounts, but in Mount Vernon, the authors write, "he produced a text from which it is possible to coax a remarkably full sense of his political convictions and of how, over time, they changed." The book, George Washington's Mount Vernon, combines the public and the private sides of his life and uses the combination to enrich our understanding of both.
Comment | 
Was this review helpful to you?
By A Customer
Format:Hardcover
For an Architect practicing in any era since Monticello was built, it has always been easy to enter into Jefferson's process--to commune with the models and the methods he sat down with as he designed (time and again) the house that he built as a monument to his ideas and his place in history. In part, this has been because he planned and drew much as we do today. We have the drawings. We know (and can quickly avert our eyes from) the form of labor. We can hold these two-dimensional maps up to the brilliant artifact, and be satisfied, with ourselves, that we have made a connection to the past. Mount Vernon, however, has had to wait for the Dalzells to read, for us, the full and fully three-dimensional process of its becoming. This beautifully written book brings to George Washington's home, a context of meaning and National symbolism that time and distance had almost obliterated. The book is a restoration project: and as such, it is a key compliment to the preservation work so ably executed over the years by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association. I heartily recommend this book to architects (amateur and professional), their clients (who may find comfort in learning that building has always been a trial), architectural historians, or anyone at all who is curious about the faithfulness of our democracy to the designs of one of its primary draftsmen.
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Was this review helpful to you?
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.2 out of 5 stars  26 reviews
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Washington understood as an architect for democracy 14 Sep 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
For an Architect practicing in any era since Monticello was built, it has always been easy to enter into Jefferson's process--to commune with the models and the methods he sat down with as he designed (time and again) the house that he built as a monument to his ideas and his place in history. In part, this has been because he planned and drew much as we do today. We have the drawings. We know (and can quickly avert our eyes from) the form of labor. We can hold these two-dimensional maps up to the brilliant artifact, and be satisfied, with ourselves, that we have made a connection to the past. Mount Vernon, however, has had to wait for the Dalzells to read, for us, the full and fully three-dimensional process of its becoming. This beautifully written book brings to George Washington's home, a context of meaning and National symbolism that time and distance had almost obliterated. The book is a restoration project: and as such, it is a key compliment to the preservation work so ably executed over the years by the Mount Vernon Ladies Association. I heartily recommend this book to architects (amateur and professional), their clients (who may find comfort in learning that building has always been a trial), architectural historians, or anyone at all who is curious about the faithfulness of our democracy to the designs of one of its primary draftsmen.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Successful Mix 8 May 2000
By "yyuu" - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Knowing Professor Dalzell and Mrs. Dalzell personally, I was incredibly curious to see how they blended the two seemingly connected but perhaps contrasting topics of George Washington and his home. Essentially, they were connected very successfully. The entire history of the home itself is told vividly with photographs, anecdotes, and objective descriptions of its development. Following, Washington's own personal, military, and political history is told in light of the times, and in the book's shining ability, in relation to the home itself. The Dalzell's cleverly-melded arguments and discussions leads the reader to a full knowledge of Mt. Vernon and its inspiring owner.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book enriches our understanding of Washington. 2 Nov 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Mount Vernon was both architecturally innovative and a true mirror of Washington's feelings and mind. He never wrote an autobiography and his diaries consist largely of farm accounts, but in Mount Vernon, the authors write, "he produced a text from which it is possible to coax a remarkably full sense of his political convictions and of how, over time, they changed." The book, George Washington's Mount Vernon, combines the public and the private sides of his life and uses the combination to enrich our understanding of both.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a good insight to the life of Washington through his home 16 Aug 2011
By Jason Greer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This is really an architectural biography, that is a story of the life of Washington through his public and private spaces. Mount Vernon, the estate and house, has long been seen as an archetype of colonial America, yet this work exists to show just how unusual Washington was and how unusual his estate was.

Drawing on extensive use of primary sources, the authors have made the case that Washington's working estate was intended to be a public location for showing how a private life could be lived well, with late 18th century virtue at its heart.

The authors do not ignore the role that slave labor played at Mt. Vernon, nor Washington's changing attitudes. Mostly what they accomplish with this work is to show and flesh out in greater detail how this estate, and its evolving history, to 1799, was used to create and demonstrate what the new American Republic could be.

Washington might be surprised at the attention to detail that the preservation of Mt. Vernon has today. He would not be surprised that it is a public space, welcoming to people from across the land. He might be surprised at its attention today, froze in amber in 1799, as it remained a working estate, constantly changing, to be used and grown for economic output in his day.

This is a readable, well researched history that fleshes out Washington and the important role that Mt. Vernon played in his life.
12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story at the heart of the republic 12 Nov 1998
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I openned this book expecting to read a story about a house and how it was built. I was surprised, and impressed, to discover that what went on as Mt. Vernon took form was far more interesting than I had expected. This is not so much a book about a house as it is the story of how George Washington related to the slaves on whom he relied to execute his architecture. In other words, the story here reverberates far beyond the boundaries of the plantation. It went to the heart of the republic, and it goes to the heart of this nation. Slavery is encoded in our national DNA (sorry, Jefferson). The Dalzells make it clear that it is also mortared in the wood and plaster (cut and painted to look like stone) of our national edifice. Are you tormented, or at least intrigued, that a slaveowner could style himself father of a republic dedicated to freedom? Maybe Washington was, too. Find out. Visit Mt. Vernon, and do it by reading this book.
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