Off the Shelf: Edward Lengel

February 15, 2008
Edward G. Lengel, associate editor of the Papers of George Washington, editor. "This Glorious Struggle: George Washington's Revolutionary War Letters," HarperCollins

February 15, 2008 — A new selection of George Washington's letters written from 1775 to 1783 — during the Revolutionary War — has just been published, illuminating this important period of the commander-in-chief's life. Editor Edward G. Lengel, associate editor of the Papers of George Washington project at the University of Virginia, has included many letters that have never been published in the new book, "This Glorious Struggle: George Washington's Revolutionary War Letters."

Washington wrote an astonishing number of letters, both personal and professional. The majority — about 140,000 documents — are from the Revolutionary War years. The letters are arranged chronologically and give a dramatic sense of the major phases of the war, from Boston, Trenton and Valley Forge to Monmouth and Yorktown.

Washington's lively and often surprisingly candid notes to his wife and family, friends, Congress, fellow soldiers — and even the enemy — chronicle his most critical tactical and strategic decisions, while offering a rare glimpse of the extremes of depression and exultation into which he was cast by the fortunes of war.

The more personal missives show us a Washington who worried about his wife's well-being and who appreciated a good joke and a well-laid table, not to mention the company of the ladies.

"This Glorious Struggle" brings Washington to vivid life, offering a fresh and intimate sense of this most towering American figure and the critical role he played in the creation of our country.

Lengel, also a professor at the University of Virginia, is the author of "General George Washington: A Military Life" and his latest, "To Conquer Hell: The Meuse-Argonne, 1918."

"This Glorious Struggle" is produced by Smithsonian Books, an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers, in collaboration with the Smithsonian Institution.