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Blood of Tyrants

George Washington and the Forging of the Presidency


Logan Beirne (View Bio)
Hardcover: Encounter Books, 2013.

Blood of Tyrants

Blood of Tyrants reveals the surprising details of our Founding Fathers’ approach to war. This book delves into some of the forgotten—and often lurid—historical facts that have become most applicable to today’s contentious debates. When our Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution, the United States had had only one Commander in Chief:  General George Washington. As the country’s first military leader, Washington personified the war powers our forefathers intended for the President when they proclaimed in the Constitution, “The President shall be Commander in Chief of the Army and Navy of the United States….”  This work analyzes General Washington’s specific actions and beliefs as he forged the very meaning of the Constitution amid the heat of battle.

America’s commander was intended to fiercely defend American citizens’ rights and liberties against all forms of aggression. By drawing from reams of primary source documents, this book brings to light facts that have been overlooked by history, including such forgotten materials as General Washington’s letters justifying torture, a vivid, eye witness account of the military tribunal that executed a British prisoner, and evidence of a power struggle between Washington and Congress over war tactics. Using personal details to pull the reader directly into the scenes, these stories all help fill the void in our understanding of our brave, ingenious Founding Fathers’ pragmatic approach to governing an America at war.

Winner of the 2015 Abraham Lincoln Literary Award for "outstanding American authors" from the Union League Club
Winner of the 2014 William E. Colby Award for a first work of fiction or non-fiction that has made a significant contribution to the understanding of intelligence operations, military history, or international affairs.

"Gripping. Relevant. Revolutionary. This page-turning historical thriller is packed with fresh factual narratives that draw the reader into the scenes to show how the United States earned its stripes. The wisdom of 1776 was never more crucial than today." — Amy Chua, Yale Law School

"What are the constitutional powers of the president in time of war? Do his war powers grant him authority to establish military tribunals, torture enemy prisoners, and override Congress in the determination of military strategy and operations? As Logan Beirne demonstrates in this fresh and stimulating history of the American Revolution, Commander-in-Chief George Washington confronted these questions and established precedents that have continued to shape presidential war powers down to our own time." — James McPherson, Princeton University professor emeritus, Pulitzer Prize-winning author

"Blood of Tyrants strips away the fantasy and lays bare the violence and political intrigue needed for the American Revolution to succeed. Lurid, horrifying, scandalous. I could not put it down." — William Eskridge Jr., Yale Law School

"What can we learn about America’s proper comportment in today’s dirty wars from a long-dead, white male, slave-owning aristocrat of the 18th century? A lot, it turns out. Logan Beirne’s paean to Washington’s wartime wisdom and belief in constitutional government is a timely, insightful, and much-needed reminder of why America does best at war when it honors rather than erodes its founding principles." — Victor Davis Hanson, Stanford University, Hoover Institution

"This myth-defying book tells how our first commander in chief dealt with the hard issues of war, including military commissions, the rights of Americans, and the interference of Congress. Those who want an unvarnished account of how a great leader handled nasty and messy problems of war: prepare to be shocked, amazed, and educated." — Hon. Michael W. McConnell, Stanford Law School, Stanford Constitutional Law Center

"Drawing directly from the papers of Washington and his contemporaries, the book provides details on how our first commander in chief dealt with the issues still facing us in the present: including military tribunals, torture, traitors, treason, drones, enemy combatants, political partisanship, congressional meddling, government debt crisis and even sex scandals." — The Times and Democrat

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