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 Drawing on archives in the United States, England, and France, as well as unpublished Jefferson presidential papers, Meacham presents Jefferson as the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American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.
©2012 Jon Meacham (P)2012 Random House Audio
"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)
"Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power is a true triumph, a brilliant biography. Jon Meacham shows how Jefferson's deft ability to compromise and improvise made him a transformational leader. We think of Jefferson as the embodiment of noble ideals, as he was, but Meacham shows that he was a practical politician more than a moral theorist. The result is a fascinating look at how Jefferson wielded his driving desire for power and control." (Walter Isaacson)
This is a fascinating and informative book on one of the most complicated and complex individuals of the founding fathers of the United States. You get a real picture of the immense talents and shortcomings of not only Jefferson but many of the other founding fathers such as Adams, Madison and Hamilton – they seemed to be the perfect counterbalance to each other at a time when had either the Federalist or the Anti-Federalist factions been exclusively in power this country might never had survived to become the country that it is today. Washington must have truly been an amazing leader to have been able to marshal the talents of Jefferson, Hamilton and Adams in one cabinet during the most critical time in the fledgling countries development, especially since they all were fundamentally opposed to each other’s vision and philosophy of Government. Jefferson’s steadfast opposition to Monarchy certainly was a factor in ensuring that this country did not eventually drift back towards the British model during some of the challenging periods of the post revolutionary period. Mr Meacham does an excellent job in presenting a realistic portrait of Jefferson, flaws and strengths. Ed Herman is one of the better narrators for bios and he does an outstanding job in this one. I would strongly recommend this book if you enjoy American History.
In an age when most media fail to supply any depth to issues, this book defies that trend. Whether you love Jefferson -- or hate him -- it is important to understand his life in the context of his time.
I loved the insights into Jefferson's life, but the story telling left much to be desired. It was easy to put this down, and forget you were reading it. Unlike JOHN ADAMS, which I found riveting, this writing did not keep me engaged. However, it is well worth reading to learn more about a fascinating man, who's personality and choices live in our daily lives because of the impact he made to the country. The author, with his resources, could have done a much better job. I felt like he read kept reading through his notes and said, "Oh, I forgot to add this, so I'll pop it in here."
This biography covers the breath of Jefferson's life in detail, as long as you gloss the Hemming assault and slavery as the time he lived, his cowardice as a governor as simply leaving the city, and his extreme insensitivity to the French citizens as they revolted while he ate cake in their midst as statesmanship. He was renowned for his insatiable pursuit of married women and his arrogance around the battles for independence (he never fought in any battle, preferring Louis XIV). He ran on the stance of less government intervention and yet his presidency moved to empower central government and the executive branch further than any other president. Yet he maintained a hatred for the Federalist. He never acknowledged his children, keeping them slaves with a brutal overseer, yet this biography glosses over this as part of his greatness as a statesman, speaking of his love for his gardens, enormous home and building of the University of Virginia, all accomplished on the backs of slave labor. The last two chapters were laughable in their worship of a very flawed, arrogant, elitist. Narration was very good and clear, however.
More of a Cliff Notes version of Jefferson. The author glosses over Jeffersons governorship and presidency. The author fails to really dig deep and try to get the reader to understand why Jefferson is a great President. He glosses over Jeffersons fight with the Federalists and his fear of a new monarchy. Reading the book you get a good broad overview of Jefferson. If you are looking for an in-depth analysis of Jefferson, this is not the book. If you were looking for a book that talks about how Jefferson viewed and used power, as the title suggests, this is not the book. Ron Chernow's book "Alexander Hamilton" did more to provide insight into Jeffersons thinking in this book.
Pretty near the top regarding historical information. But the overly stuffy writing style brought it down a few notches.
No. But I've seen many of the late Mr. Herrmann's performances on TV and in the movies.
It's probably hard to make a complex, hypocritical man like Jefferson really likeable, but Meacham's writing style makes it even harder.
Powerful. Touching. Informative.
l had many favorites.
I don't think these questions have anything to do with a review of a book.
Absolutely... I re-listened to many passages multiple times to be certain I caught all the detail.
An attentive listener can develop a very personal relationship with TJ.
The patience to savor the words of TJ... allow TJ's conception of human liberty to blossom in the mind of the listener.
It is hard to imagine a film doing justice to this material.
The book is very well done. It's worth the listen
Jefferson's presidency is very interesting. Devisions that we had as a country long ago are still very real today. It's interesting how the two party system back in Jefferson's day (which many look at as a golden age) was just as polarized as things are today. It gives me hope that even though things seem really screwed up right now we've obviously been in much worse positions as a country. Jefferson was a political mastermind and really quite an amazing person that transcends time,
"Too many details!"
This book is fantastic from a bibliographical prospective. Extremely detailed. A person really passionate about Jefferson would like it!
The usual reader is lost in too many letters and details about day to day life, and lose the great ideals that drive Jefferson's life.
Report Inappropriate Content