Join us for the official book launch of Maurizio Valsania’s new book, First Among Men: George Washington and the Myth of American Masculinity. This compelling work dispels the many common myths about the first U.S. president while revealing a full, complete portrait of George Washington as readers have rarely seen him before.

Hear from the author at our free book talk and submit your questions. This event will be followed by a book signing.

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Add to Calendar 10/11/2022 19:00:00 10/11/2022 20:00:00 America/New_York Ford Evening Book Talk and Official Book Launch: George Washington and the Myth of American Masculinity

Join us for the official book launch of Maurizio Valsania’s new book, First Among Men: George Washington and the Myth of American Masculinity. This compelling work dispels the many common myths about the first U.S. president while revealing a full, complete portrait of George Washington as readers have rarely seen him before.

Hear from the author at our free book talk and submit your questions. This event will be followed by a book signing.

REGISTER

In Person

Virtual

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Free

About the Book

George Washington—hero of the French and Indian War, commander in chief of the Continental Army, and first president of the United States—died on December 14, 1799. The myth-making began immediately thereafter, and the Washington mythos crafted after his death remains largely intact. But what do we really know about Washington as an upper-class man?

Washington is frequently portrayed by his biographers as America at its unflinching best: tall, shrewd, determined, resilient, stalwart, and tremendously effective in action. But this aggressive and muscular version of Washington is largely a creation of the nineteenth century. Eighteenth-century ideals of upper-class masculinity would have preferred a man with refined aesthetic tastes, graceful and elegant movements, and the ability and willingness to clearly articulate his emotions. At the same time, these eighteenth-century men subjected themselves to intense hardship and inflicted incredible amounts of violence on each other, their families, their neighbors, and the people they enslaved. Valsania considers Washington's complexity and apparent contradictions in three main areas: his physical life (often bloody, cold, injured, muddy, or otherwise unpleasant), his emotional world (sentimental, loving, and affectionate), and his social persona (carefully constructed and maintained). In each, he notes, the reality diverges from the legend quite drastically. Ultimately, Valsania challenges readers to reconsider what they think they know about Washington.

Aided by new research, documents, and objects that have only recently come to light, First Among Men tells the fascinating story of a living and breathing person who loved, suffered, moved, gestured, dressed, ate, and drank in ways that may be surprising to many Americans. In this accessible, detailed narrative, Valsania presents a full, complete portrait of Washington as readers have rarely seen him before: as a man, a son, a father, and a friend.

About the Author

Maurizio Valsania is professor of American History at the University of Turin, Italy.

He is the author of The Limits of Optimism: Thomas Jefferson's Dualistic Enlightenment (UVA Press, 2011), Nature's Man: Thomas Jefferson's Philosophical Anthropology (UVA Press, 2013), and Jefferson’s Body: A Corporeal Biography (UVA Press, 2017). He is the recipient of several fellowships from leading academic institutions, including the American Antiquarian Society, the Gilder Lehrman Institute of American History, the Library Company, the John D. Rockefeller Library, the DAAD (Germany), and the International Center for Jefferson Studies.

He has written for the OUP Blog (Oxford University Press’s Academic Insights for the Thinking World) and collaborated with the BBC World Service.

Maurizio Valsania worked on this book while a member of the Washington Library’s class of 2020-2021 research fellows.

Sponsored By The Ford Motor Company Fund

Sponsored By The Ford Motor Company Fund

Mount Vernon has enjoyed a very special relationship with the Ford Motor Company dating back more than 90 years. We are grateful for their generous support and we applaud their abiding respect for American heritage.

Contact

Stephen A. McLeod

Director, Library Programs

703.799.8686

smcleod@mountvernon.org

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