Thursday, May 6, 2010

Non-Fiction: Eye-Opening

Farmer George Plants a Nation, by Peggy Thomas, paintings by Layne Johnson--What comes to mind when you think of George Washington? Dollar bills? First president of the United States? Statue of a big guy on a big horse? Commander in Chief of the Continental Army in the American Revolution? He is most famous for these things but, as Peggy Thomas states, "...he was a general only for eight and a half years and held the office of president for eight years." That accounts for sixteen and a half years. But he died at the age of 67. What was he doing the rest of the time?

He was a farmer. And not just your run-of-the-mill, eking-out-a-living, farmer. He was successful. More than that, he was curious. What made which crops grow best? How could one increase the efficiency of one's farm operation? He experimented with crop rotation and with building machines. His home plantation, Mount Vernon thrived under his care, and over the years he increased its acreage from two thousand to more than eight thousand. Even as general and president, "No matter where he was, George's thoughts were never far from home. ...General George found time to write lengthy letters to his farm managers back home. The longest was sixteen pages!"

Peggy Thomas uses quotes from many of Washington's letters and farm records to supplement her own text. The quotes are well-chosen to highlight the beautiful paintings of Layne Johnson. All in all, a wonderful book.

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