Form and Content

(Critical Edition of Young Adult Fiction)

Jeanette Eaton’s award-winning Leader by Destiny: George Washington, Man and Patriot, sets out to provide a definitive portrait of this famous American that will equally demonstrate his two conflicting and complementary roles—“man and patriot,” as the subtitle of the book calls them—while placing his life within the setting in which destiny called him to lead at a crucial period of Colonial and United States history. By dividing the four-hundred-page narrative into major scenes, Eaton is able to concentrate attention on the significant episodes in Washington’s life, beginning with the decision to live with his older half brother, Lawrence, at Mount Vernon and learn surveying and military tactics rather than to travel to England for an education. The final chapter describes his second term as president of the new nation and ends with his death. The fourteen intervening chapters contain information about the political and economic conditions that played so large a part in deter-mining the choices that Washington made and the experiences that prepared him for his well-known roles as commander of the revolutionary army and then as the first American president.

The author’s decision to focus on crucial episodes may have been dictated in part by the use of Washington’s journals and letters, which enabled Eaton to quote his feelings and attitudes as well as to document his activities, such as surveying trips, military expeditions,...

(The entire section is 462 words.)