Washington’s First Mission

Duel in the Wilderness , Karin Clafford Farley
(The Colonial Williamsburg Foundation, 1995), pb., 215 pp.
Ages 10+

This book chronicles George Washington’s expedition into the Ohio country as an emissary of the Governor of Virginia and the King of England to deliver a message to the French who were pushing into territory claimed by the British. This is a true story (obviously filled in in places) of the event which made Washington a known and respected name at age 20. Thus, it has real potential for excitement and adventure but fails significantly. We persevered through this one, and would not commend it to you. There are too many other books on Washington to get bogged down in this one.

What did we not like about it? First, it was simply dull. There is too much psychologizing about Washington’s thoughts rather than telling the story. Also the author has the odd, irritating practice of referring to Washington as “George” whereas she refers to others by their last name. To us that came across as disrespectful. The author seems to be intent on showing the youth and lack of maturity of Washington, at least until the end of the story. Lastly, I was surprised to find multiple instances of profanity in this “children’s book” which we purchased because it was recommended by Veritas Press!

You can find the actual text of Washington’s journal from this trip and a summary of the story here. This will serve you better without having to buy a book.

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