Thomas Jefferson: Book summary and reviews of Thomas Jefferson by Jon Meacham

Thomas Jefferson

The Art of Power

by Jon Meacham

Thomas Jefferson by Jon Meacham X
Thomas Jefferson by Jon Meacham
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  • Published in USA  Nov 2012
    800 pages
    Genre: Biographies/Memoirs

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Book Summary

In this magnificent biography, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of American Lion and Franklin and Winston brings vividly to life an extraordinary man and his remarkable times. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power gives us Jefferson the politician and president, a great and complex human being forever engaged in the wars of his era. Philosophers think; politicians maneuver. Jefferson's genius was that he was both and could do both, often simultaneously. Such is the art of power.
 
Thomas Jefferson hated confrontation, and yet his understanding of power and of human nature enabled him to move men and to marshal ideas, to learn from his mistakes, and to prevail. Passionate about many things - women, his family, books, science, architecture, gardens, friends, Monticello, and Paris - Jefferson loved America most, and he strove over and over again, despite fierce opposition, to realize his vision: the creation, survival, and success of popular government in America. Jon Meacham lets us see Jefferson's world as Jefferson himself saw it, and to appreciate how Jefferson found the means to endure and win in the face of rife partisan division, economic uncertainty, and external threat. Drawing on archives in the United States, England, and France, as well as unpublished Jefferson presidential papers, Meacham presents Jefferson as the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American history.
 
The father of the ideal of individual liberty, of the Louisiana Purchase, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and of the settling of the West, Jefferson recognized that the genius of humanity - and the genius of the new nation - lay in the possibility of progress, of discovering the undiscovered and seeking the unknown. From the writing of the Declaration of Independence to elegant dinners in Paris and in the President's House; from political maneuverings in the boardinghouses and legislative halls of Philadelphia and New York to the infant capital on the Potomac; from his complicated life at Monticello, his breathtaking house and plantation in Virginia, to the creation of the University of Virginia, Jefferson was central to the age. Here too is the personal Jefferson, a man of appetite, sensuality, and passion.
 
The Jefferson story resonates today not least because he led his nation through ferocious partisanship and cultural warfare amid economic change and external threats, and also because he embodies an eternal drama, the struggle of the leadership of a nation to achieve greatness in a difficult and confounding world.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"[As] fine a rendering of the nation's third president as this book may be, it comes too close to idolization. Jefferson's critics still have something valid to say, even if their voices here are stilled." - Publishers Weekly

"Starred Review. An outstanding biography that reveals an overlooked steeliness at Jefferson's core that accounts for so much of his political success." - Kirkus Reviews

"Jon Meacham resolves the bundle of contradictions that was Thomas Jefferson by probing his love of progress and thirst for power. This is a thrilling and affecting portrait of our first philosopher-politician." - Stacy Schiff

"This terrific book allows us to see the political genius of Thomas Jefferson better than we have ever seen it before. In these endlessly fascinating pages, Jefferson emerges with such vitality that it seems as if he might still be alive today." - Doris Kearns Goodwin

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Author Information

Jon Meacham Author Biography

Photo: Damien Donck

A member of the Council on Foreign Relations and of the Society of American Historians, Meacham is a distinguished visiting professor at Vanderbilt University and at The University of the South. He is a contributing editor of Time and a contributing writer to The New York Times Book Review. Meacham is also a regular guest on "Morning Joe," "Charlie Rose," and other broadcasts.

Born in Chattanooga in 1969, Meacham was educated at St. Nicholas School, The McCallie School, and graduated from The University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee, with a degree summa cum laude in English Literature; he was salutatorian and elected to Phi Beta Kappa.

He lives in Nashville and in Sewanee with his wife and children.

Link to Jon Meacham's Website

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