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Lunch » Tags » Books » Reviews » Thomas Jefferson: Author of America (Eminent Lives) » User review

Jefferson "lite"

  • Jul 31, 2006
The idea behind the series "Eminent Lives" is a good one: have various well-known authors write brief biographies of famous people. One of the problems with this idea is that, sometimes brevity is not a good idea when it comes to a life that was full of action and activity. That is especially true of the life of Thomas Jefferson, a man who was a true "renaissance man" in all the best aspects of the word. No brief biography can do his life justice, but the author really does his best to give us the sense of the man. This is a "warts and all" biography, a far cry from the hagiographies often penned about Jefferson. We see the man as he may have truly been, a patriot, but a politician and the author of the Declaration of Independence who believed in slavery, and always feared a slave revolt, a Deist (or perhaps agnostic) who was not above using religious phrases when it suited him. I found the work as well-balanced as possible; given the subject I just wish it could have been longer.

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review by . August 02, 2005
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review by . July 04, 2005
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Frank J. Konopka ()
Ranked #89
I'm a small town general practice attorney in the hard coal region of Pennsylvania. Books are my passion, andI read as many of them asI can. Being the President of the local library board for over … more
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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.

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.

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 the U.S. navy and the fortification of America's reputation regarding national defense.

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ISBN-10: 0060598964
ISBN-13: 978-0060598969
Author: Christopher Hitchens
Genre: Biographies & Memoirs, History
Publisher: Eminent Lives
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