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You Never Forget Your First summary

Alexis Coe

A Biography of George Washington

4 (55 ratings)
24 mins

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'You Never Forget Your First' by Alexis Coe is a historical biography of America's first president, George Washington. It challenges myths and stereotypes surrounding him, offering insight into his complex, multifaceted personality and political life.

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    You Never Forget Your First
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    Many of the most famous stories about Washington simply aren’t true. 

    You know that joke about history being so named because it’s literally “his story”? Well, corny as the saying may be, it’s kind of true. History has typically been written by men, about men, and for men. 

    Nowhere is this more apparent than in the stories we tell about George Washington, America’s Revolutionary War hero and first president. He’s the subject of hundreds of biographies, artworks, and memorials, including the one-dollar bill and a statue so massive that it’s carved into a literal mountain. Because he’s so revered, his story has attained cult status. 

    But when you actually cut through the hero worship, it turns out that several of our favorite stories aren’t based in reality at all.

    The key message here is: Many of the most famous stories about Washington simply aren’t true. 

    Let’s take, for example, the old tale that Washington had wooden dentures, which kept him in constant agony. The fact that he was able to speak, let alone lead a country, is supposed to demonstrate his mighty stoicism and steadfast resolve. 

    But when you think about it, the story doesn’t make sense. Wood is an awful material for dentures, given its annoying tendency to rot. It’s true that Washington had terrible teeth – if any – but his dentures were actually made from a combination of animal teeth and human teeth that he bought from enslaved people at well below the going market rate. 

    The famous cherry tree incident also wilts under scrutiny. The story has a young Washington, overexcited by the gift of a new ax, chopping down his father’s favorite fruit tree. When questioned, Washington immediately confesses, uttering the famous line, “I cannot tell a lie.” Washington may have been many things, but an “arborcidal” maniac he was not. The story was invented by his first biographer in 1798.

    That these stories have stayed with us throughout the years says more about us than it does about Washington. As the so-called Father of his Country, Washington’s character and actions are a reflection of our own. 

    But as we re-examine history from the perspectives of all of the participants, not just the great men, it becomes clear that history is more nuanced than we realize. Washington was a great man, sure, but he was also flawed, just like us. How he was able to overcome his normal-guy nature to become great, well, that’s a story worth telling.

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    What is You Never Forget Your First about?

    You Never Forget Your First (2020) is a playful history of America’s first president, the first biography of George Washington to be written by a woman in over 40 years. A unique departure from the typical Washington biography, these blinks cut through the hero worship to reveal a nuanced character with problems – just like the rest of us. 

    You Never Forget Your First Review

    You Never Forget Your First (2020) is an eye-opening biography of America's first president, George Washington. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • With meticulous research and a fresh perspective, it demystifies the iconic figure of George Washington, revealing a complex and human side to the Founding Father.
    • The book offers a nuanced portrayal of Washington, challenging historical myths and shedding light on his failures, weaknesses, and triumphs.
    • Through vivid storytelling and engaging anecdotes, Alexis Coe brings history to life, making it a captivating read that never fails to fascinate.

    Best quote from You Never Forget Your First

    Fact: One of Washingtons bodyguards during the Siege of Boston had USA engraved on his buttons. This is the first recorded use of the abbreviation.

    —Alexis Coe
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    Who should read You Never Forget Your First?

    • Anyone who thinks they already know the story of George Washington
    • History hounds excited by how the discipline is changing 
    • Skeptics who love poking holes in an established narrative

    About the Author

    Alexis Coe is a best-selling author, historian, and writer. Her novel Alice + Freda Forever made the New York Times Best-seller List and is soon to be a major motion picture. She was a consulting producer on the History Channel series Washington and hosts the podcast series Presidents Are People Too! from Audible.

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    You Never Forget Your First FAQs 

    What is the main message of You Never Forget Your First?

    The main message of You Never Forget Your First is a fresh and revealing look at the life of America's first president, George Washington.

    How long does it take to read You Never Forget Your First?

    The reading time for You Never Forget Your First varies depending on the reader's speed. However, you can read the Blinkist summary in just 15 minutes.

    Is You Never Forget Your First a good book? Is it worth reading?

    You Never Forget Your First offers a captivating and insightful portrayal of George Washington, making it a worthwhile read for history enthusiasts.

    Who is the author of You Never Forget Your First?

    Alexis Coe is the author of You Never Forget Your First.

    What to read after You Never Forget Your First?

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