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Publisher's Summary

George Washington's Farewell Address was a prophetic letter from a "parting friend" to his fellow citizens about the forces he feared could destroy our democracy: hyper-partisanship, excessive debt, and foreign wars.
Once celebrated as civic scripture, more widely reprinted than the Declaration of Independence, the Farewell Address is now almost forgotten. Its message remains starkly relevant. In Washington's Farewell, John Avlon offers a stunning portrait of our first president and his battle to save America from self-destruction.
At the end of his second term, Washington surprised Americans by publishing his Farewell message in a newspaper. The President called for unity among "citizens by birth or choice", advocated moderation, defended religious pluralism, proposed a foreign policy of independence (not isolation), and proposed that education is essential to democracy. He established the precedent for the peaceful transfer of power.
Washington's urgent message was adopted by Jefferson after years of opposition and quoted by Lincoln in defense of the Union. Woodrow Wilson invoked it for nation-building; Eisenhower for Cold War; Reagan for religion. Now the Farewell Address may inspire a new generation to re-center our politics and reunite our nation through the lessons rooted in Washington's experience.
As John Avlon describes the perilous state of the new nation that Washington was preparing to leave as its leader, with enduring wisdom, he reveals him to be the indispensable Founding Father.
©2017 John Avlon. All rights reserved. (P)2017 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Michael Reading on 03-02-17

Very well written and performed

This is a well written and well read review of Washington's farewell address. As the author points out Washington's farewell address has had an enduring impact on Presidents to this day. The contents of the address are as relevant to the United States today as they were to Washington's contemporaries.

The author provides a thorough and very interesting review of the substance of the address including Washington's intended meaning as well as application through time. He provides just enough facts surrounding the drafting of the address and of the state of the country at that time to ensure that the reader understands the context of the address, without getting lost on tangents. I believe he achieved just the right mix.

Finally, often authors cannot do justice to their own work and would be better served by a professional. This is not one of those cases. The author does an excellent performance; as good as any professional reader.



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3 of 3 people found this review helpful


By Marie on 03-30-17

Reassurance and understanding for these unsettling times.

I recommend this book to anyone seeking to understand the circumstances surrounding our country's creation. You can read the Constitution, but Washington's farewell letter shows the issues he felt were important to the survival of the country. Reaffirms my confidence in our constitution, the procedure for amending it if necessary, and the value of checks and balances. If we participate, we should be fine.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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