For as much as we know about a lot of our presidents, what most people know about our very first president, George Washington, could probably fit on one side of an index card. Yes, he was a lauded general, and yes, he owned slaves and operated a Virginia plantation, but he was also once a struggling young man who was an absolutely abysmal leader of men. He was also a guy with truly awful teeth and, eventually, a heinously painful set of dentures, which is why a lot of historians believe he always looks so stern in paintings. All those topics and more will be addressed in History Channel’s new 3-part miniseries Washington, which launches Sunday on the network. Executive produced by author, historian, and excellent Colbert Report guest Doris Kearns Goodwin, the show seeks to demystify the United States’ first president. Enlisted to help are a number of historians, but also a few guys who know something about governing and the military, like former President Bill Clinton and former Secretary Of State Colin Powell.
The A.V. Club recently sat down with Kearns Goodwin to talk about how Washington got to the bottom of who Washington really was, as well as what she’s planning on working on next.