Thomas Jefferson

Thomas Jefferson

Author of America

Book - 2005
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In the background of this sophisticated analysis is a large historical drama: the fledgling nation's struggle for independence, formed in the crucible of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, and, in its shadow, the deformation of that struggle in the excesses of the French Revolution. This artful portrait of a formative figure and a turbulent era poses a challenge to anyone interested in American history-or in the ambiguities of human nature. Book jacket.
the U.S. navy and the fortification of America's reputation regarding national defense.
Jefferson's statesmanship enabled him to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase with France, doubling the size of the nation, and he authorized the Lewis and Clark expedition, opening up the American frontier for exploration and settlement. Hitchens also analyzes Jefferson's handling of the Barbary War, a lesser-known chapter of his political career, when his attempt to end the kidnapping and bribery of Americans by the Barbary states, and the subsequent war with Tripoli, led to the building of
Conflicted by power, Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and acted as Minister to France yet yearned for a quieter career in the Virginia legislature. Predicting that slavery would shape the future of America's development, this professed proponent of emancipation elided the issue in the Declaration and continued to own human property. An eloquent writer, he was an awkward public speaker; a reluctant candidate, he left an indelible presidential legacy.
In this unique biography of Thomas Jefferson, leading journalist and social critic Christopher Hitchens offers a startlingly new and provocative interpretation of our Founding Father. Situating Jefferson within the context of America's evolution and tracing his legacy over the past two hundred years, Hitchens brings the character of Jefferson to life as a man of his time and also as a symbolic figure beyond it.
Publisher: New York : Atlas Books/HarperCollinsPublishers, c2005
Edition: 1st ed
ISBN: 0060598964
Branch Call Number: B JEFFERSON
Characteristics: xiv, 188 p. ; 19 cm

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nedcampbell
May 11, 2017

I brought the book back after reading the first few pages. The content of what I read was very educational. But I don't like the writing. The writer tried to get as many words as are in the dictionary as he could. His sentences are so long and filled with comma-ed prepositional phases that I quit trying to figure out what he intended to say.

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TrinaW
Jan 30, 2017

Given the (several already) abuses of the new administration of this country, I felt compelled to read another Jefferson biography. I had hopes that it would remind me of the wonderful ideals that the founding fathers put forward. On Saturday morning when the Muslim ban was being broadcast on televisions everywhere I was very thankful to have my nose stuck in this book. The exercise worked. Not only was I reminded of the genius and selflessness of this man, his words gave me renewed hope. As for Hitchens' writing, I am already a fan and so was not surprised to find another job well done. The book is thorough yet succinct, the opinions are sound and the REAL Jefferson is allowed to shine through. Definitely amongst my recommendations to EVERY American citizen, U.S. resident and student of Democracy.
A note on the commentary written by Lukas... below (I post this because it is FUNDAMENTAL to the understanding of Jefferson and our Country's early history and ALL of this information is included in Hitchens' book so Lukas... would not require further reading to have made a statement on this topic that was less misleading):
It is a shame to gloss over the subject of Jefferson's relationship with slavery by saying "He was a slave owner who felt blacks were inferior."
Jefferson was a VEHEMENT ABOLITIONIST who attempted to end slavery SEVERAL TIMES in more than one U.S. state and as part of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of this country.
The fact that slavery was too lucrative kept others in power from allowing the passing of his legislation and resulted in the omissions if this verbiage from his drafts of our founding papers. Jefferson believed that the blacks had been treated SO HORRIFICALLY by white people that he chose not to free his slaves for their own safety. He did not believe they would have a chance amongst the society of the times and so instead chose to harbor and educate those he inherited and owned at Monticello as he considered them to be his family. Those he fathered with Sally Hemings were in fact considered white according to census therefore he did in fact free them.

l
lukasevansherman
Apr 14, 2015

Before his death in 2011, British writer/journalist enjoyed courting controversy; he's one of the few people ever to criticize Mother Teresa (as if she could fight back), he jumped on the atheism bandwagon with "God is Not Good," and though he seems liberal, he initially supported the Iraq War. The problem with authors who seek and encourage controversy is that it obscures their work and can be an easy rep. to ride. Anyway, this short book, part of a series called Eminent Lives, profiles one of the most iconic and influential figures in American history: Thomas Jefferson, our first Vice-President, our third President, the founder of the University of Virginia, a slave-owner, and the author of the Declaration of Independence. Hitchens, rather than avoid the contradictions of the man (writer of one of the greatest documents of human liberty and a slave owner who thought blacks were inferior), foregrounds them, perhaps to a fault. He's best when he focuses on his big achievements, like the Louisiana Purchase and subsequent Lewis & Clark expedition. It's a nice thumbnail sketch of the man, but the serious reader will want something longer and more substantial.

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