• His Excellency

  • George Washington
  • By: Joseph J. Ellis
  • Narrated by: Nelson Runger
  • Length: 14 hrs and 33 mins
  • 4.3 out of 5 stars (861 ratings)

1 title per month from Audible’s entire catalog of best sellers, and new releases.
Access a growing selection of included Audible Originals, audiobooks and podcasts.
You will get an email reminder before your trial ends.
Your Premium Plus plan is $14.95 a month after 30 day trial. Cancel anytime.
Buy for $29.95

Buy for $29.95

Pay using card ending in
By confirming your purchase, you agree to Audible's Conditions of Use and Amazon's Privacy Notice. Taxes where applicable.

Publisher's Summary

Acclaimed author Joseph J. Ellis penned the National Book Award-winning American Sphinx and the Pulitzer Prize-winning Founding Brothers, a fixture on The New York Times best seller list for an entire year, and one of the most popular history books of all time. Now this master historian turns his attention to the most exalted American hero, Founding Father and first President George Washington.

Washington has always been a larger-than-life enigmatic figure. On the day he was given command of the continental army, he recorded only the temperature and where he ate dinner in his journal. But recently, his papers were catalogued at the University of Virginia. Ellis had primary access to the 90-volume papers, allowing him to paint a thorough and fascinating portrait.

From the French and Indian War to Mount Vernon, from the American Revolution to the presidency, Ellis delivers what will stand the test of time as the definitive biography of the greatest American icon.

©2004 Joseph J. Ellis (P)2004 Recorded Books, LLC

Critic Reviews

  • Audie Award Finalist, Non-Fiction (unabridged), 2005
  • 2005 Quill Award Nominee

"Ellis offers a magisterial account of the life and times of George Washington [that] leaves readers with a deeper sense of the man's humanity." (Publishers Weekly)
"Mr. Ellis gives us a succinct character study while drawing on his extensive knowledge of Revolutionary and post-Revolutionary history to strip away the accretions of myth and contemporary extemporizing that have grown up around his subject....An incisive portrait of the man." (The New York Times)

What listeners say about His Excellency

Average Customer Ratings
Overall
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    427
  • 4 Stars
    295
  • 3 Stars
    102
  • 2 Stars
    23
  • 1 Stars
    14
Performance
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    272
  • 4 Stars
    148
  • 3 Stars
    57
  • 2 Stars
    12
  • 1 Stars
    10
Story
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars
  • 5 Stars
    309
  • 4 Stars
    136
  • 3 Stars
    44
  • 2 Stars
    5
  • 1 Stars
    6

Reviews - Please select the tabs below to change the source of reviews.

Sort by:
Filter by:
  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Ellis is a known liar

Just to refresh everyone's memory, it was Ellis, the left winger, who was unmasked as a fraud. He had claimed to be a Vietnam veteran while railing against the war to packed classrooms. He had to eat crow and kept his head down for awhile. But he's back and slinging mud at this country's foundations once more. First it was Jefferson, now it's Washington. He's an average writer and for this I will give him his due. But this is lightweight politically correct history for all you libs. Enjoy. For the rest of us, there is always Douglas Southall Freeman's magnificent biography of Washington. The narration included some strange sounds in the background at times.

42 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Good book, not a great book

This is a good book, not a great book, about the "founding generation." Ellis does an excellent job reviewing Washington's life & career but does not bring to light much of an original nature. Ellis seeks to bring Washington "to life" in a way that more political history treatments supposedly do not. However, he does not succeed in this goal, in part perhaps because the combination of documentary evidence & Washington's own self-imposed flatness prohibits that from happening. The book flows well, is well organized, and is very well narrated. My interest never flagged even though I did not find much of new material. Ellis is a very good writer ... that alone should recommend this book-on-tape to other listeners, since many history volumes of this nature are very hard to follow on tape.

22 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Charles E.

Fine insight into the character, make up and triumph of the father of our country. The strenghts and complexities of an honorable man along with his opponants and errors. So complex that it became a bit
lengthy at times. Very enjoyable listening.

17 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Distracted By Narrator

I found the book to be well-written and informative. However, after listening to more than 50 books this is the first time I have been distracted by the clearly audible sound of the narrator inhaling between sentences. I found that to be surprising and disappointing since it is an issue that can be addressed through voice training or, as a last resort, editing during the production of the audio book.

15 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

Horrible narration

The book offers an interesting insight into George Washington's life. But the narrator's long breaths, loud swallowing and stomach gurgling made for a total distraction. It's obvious that the producers of this audiobook were asleep at the switch. The swallowing and breaths could have easily been edited out electronically. As for the gaseous gurgling, they should have told the narrator to just read the line over.

14 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

1st in war, 1st in peace, & 1st in our hearts.

"...his trademark decision to surrender power as commander in chief and then president, was not...a sign that he had conquered his ambitions, but rather that he fully realized that all ambitions were inherently insatiable and unconquerable. He knew himself well enough to resist the illusion that he transcended human nature. Unlike Julius Caesar and Oliver Cromwell before him, and Napoleon, Lenin, and Mao after him, he understood that the greater glory resided in posterity's judgment. If you aspire to live forever in the memory of future generations, you must demonstrate the ultimate self-confidence to leave the final judgment to them. And he did.”
― Joseph J. Ellis, His Excellency: George Washington

A good Ellis. Probably 3.5 stars. Like with 'American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson' Ellis knows his subject has been written about before and probably better. He isn't looking to redo or modernize the biography of George Washington. He only wants to do a couple things. He wants to narrowly explore the character of George Washington AND write a slick and easily digestible biography that will sell well. I know this sounds a bit harsh, but Ellis, while an academic historian, aims both bigger and smaller. He wants to be read. He wants to be bought. So, his biographies and histories tend to be smaller, easier to digest, and built to be sold on the Costco book tables. That isn't a bad thing.

Joseph Ellis is in the same line as that great pantheon of Founding biographers: Walter Isaacson, Jon Meacham, David McCullough, Edmund Morris, Ron Chernow and Doris Kearns Goodwin. He seems to be center mass of this group. Not as solid as Chernow or Morris, not as slick as Meacham or Isaacson.

Anyway, my only real complaint about this biography is stylistic. I hated, HATED, his periodic asides (he called them Sittings). I almost dropped a star just because of those. Ugh. It reminded me of the trend with weeklies or newspapers of blocking a quote from the text (callouts?). But this was worse. It was done like a third person observation of George Washington. They were uneven and just kinda stupid and weak. They weren't necessary, were distracting, and diminished the text.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars

Not what I expected

After listening to founding brothers,(highly recommended),I expected more out of this book. It seemed to take Washington and tell us all the reasons why the listener shouldn't think of him as in any way great, and all the while dismissing to quickly the very reasons that we do. This seems to stray from Ellis's earlier assessment of the same man. This book also seemed to be more in line with a book meant for classroom discussion than the entertaining and informative book I had expected after listening to his last. I would rather recommend "John Adams" or the afore mentioned Ellis book instead.

12 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars

mediocre

If you are fan of David McCullough, you will probably be underwhelmed by this book. It is not as well written, entertaining, or fact filled. The narrator is a bit boring and there were several times I had to 'go back' and relisten to a section because I realized I had 'drifted away' and wasn't paying attention.

The book attempted to give a picture of 'George Washington the man' but I don't feel that I knew much more about him after listening to the book. The one exception is the discussion of Washington's view of slavery and how he tried to personally deal with it.

If you are a history buff, you probably should read it and will get some enjoyment out of it - just don't expect too much.

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

No Financial Support to Frauds

I had this book on my wish list, but since discovering that the author was "outed" as a wanna-be Vietnam combat veteran, I hereby pledge that I will not read or listen to any of the author's books. Fraudulent claims of military service, especially claims of being a combat veteran, should thus "rewarded". What weakness of character!

9 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    1 out of 5 stars

Couldn't get past the terrible narration

I'm going to have to check this book out of the library to be able to intelligently comment on its content.

The narration was awful. The pace was painfully slow. The length of the audible book could have been cut by at least 30% had it been read by a reader with a more reasonable pace. His breathing was distracting, his pauses before the pronounciation of French names were annoying and pretentious, but his audible stomach growls were the final straw.

I will no longer buy an audible book without listening to a long sample first.

8 people found this helpful

.