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Rediscovering George Washington
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Synopsis
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Synopsis

"If he had lived in the days of superstition, he had been worshipped as a god," said Benjamin Rush, of George Washington. "He has so happy a faculty of appearing to accommodate and yet carrying his point," wrote Abigail Adams, "that if he was really not one of the best-intentioned men in the world, he might be a very dangerous one."

George Washington won an eight-and-a-half year war against the mightiest military power on earth; he presided over the Constitutional Convention; and he served as first President for eight years. At the end of every assignment, he returned his power to the system which had honored him. He embodied America's principles, both by taking charge effectively in war and peace, and by stepping down when the time came. He was, as James Thomas Flexner called him, "the indispensable man."

Rediscovering George Washington discusses three character traits which allowed him to gain and wield power-skill as a warrior, charisma, and political savvy—and three traits which taught him to use it justly and to give it up-devotion to right ideas, civility, and magnanimous renunciation.

When George III was told that Gen. Washington would probably retire to his farm when the Revolutionary War ended, he said that if Washington did that, he would be the greatest man of the age. Rediscovering George Washington shows how he did it.

It features a fresh approach to American biographical documentary—getting the camera off old prints, out of the offices of talking heads, and away from stock footage of marching feet. The show offers modern analogs for the events and dilemmas it describes. How should a president deal with the Whiskey Rebellion? A seminar of colonels at the Army War College discuss the problem. Did Washington throw a stone across the Rappahannock? Five local high school pitchers go to the spot and try. Whenever experts are used, they talk on the spot. Richard Brookhiser, the writer and host, is not an off-camera narrator, but a passionate and involved presence, in the tradition of David Attenborough (Life on Earth) or Kenneth Clarke (Civilization).

Rediscovering George Washington, a 90-minute high-definition documentary, will air nationally on PBS on July 4, 2002, at 9:30 PM (after the fireworks show). Michael Pack, the president of Manifold Productions, produced and directed the program. Mr. Pack and Leo Eaton served as executive producers. WETA Television, Channel 26, the major public broadcaster for the greater Washington area, will present the program nationally.

To purchase a copy of Rediscovering George Washington, please contact: Films for the Humanities & Sciences, P.O. Box 2053, Princeton, NJ 08543-2053. Toll-free 1-800-257-5126. www.films.com.