Retracing the steps from history to present day.
“what worried Washington more than anything else was what might happen if a president’s chief priority was to divide rather than unite the American people.”
~Travels with George by Nathaniel Philbrick
In 2019, historian and author Philbrick retraced the steps George Washington took 225 years earlier during his presidency. The result is an entertaining and eye-opening anecdotal travelogue that compares and contrasts the landscape and feel of American towns and their residents of today with those around 1780. Philbrick’s encounters and experiences with people in each town are warm, funny, poignant, and capture the diversity of social and political views and values. Philbrick draws the similarities of his observations to those of Washington over two hundred years ago, revealing the importance of history — knowing and understanding it.
I don’t consider myself a huge fan of this genre, but books like this make me rethink my aversion to reading history books. History books filled with dates, names, wars, people, states, countries boggle my mind sometimes.This narrative presents a segment of American history in a light, effective manner – through the tales of his personal travel with his wife and their dog – who threatens to steal the show frequently. This is an easy, enlightening and educational read for anyone who likes to explore American towns and Americana, and thinks that history is beyond their grasp. Philbrick also draws the line between past and present to make us see that history is not just a thing of the past.
Incidentally, Philbrick also narrated this audiobook, which, some may find, is even more of an entertaining experience than reading this book.
Also recommended: John Steinbeck’s America and Americans
If this title interests you, check out my reviews on:
Vanderbilt: The Rise and Fall of an American Dynasty by Anderson Cooper and Katherine Howe