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 Drawing on archives in the United States, England, and France, as well as unpublished Jefferson presidential papers, Meacham presents Jefferson as the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American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)
Spent way too much time discussing his personal relationships and affairs. I turned it off when he described the physical attributes of a woman he encountered in France. The story of one of the most important people in the history of the world does not need to be spiced up with useless tidbits.
Great performance, good author, paradoxical man. Really enjoyed the reader. Author is not quite as strong as McCullough or Chernow
Addicted to reading traditional books. Overwhelmed by backlog of books to read. If it's early Americana then I want it.
Books, such as this, should be required curriculum in schools. I very much enjoyed this audio book.
This was a wonderful book and a delight to listen. Meacham has written a glorious picture into the life of one of America's greatest icons and given restoration to his just work and deeds.
Yes. I was disappointed in the entire book. Having been reading a string of Presidential bios for the past 3-4 months, including Reagan, Bush (41), Lincoln, Jackson, Washington and Adams, this was the most disappointing. I learned more about Jefferson in David Mccullough's bio of John Adams. Of all of the bios of read (except perhaps W's bio of his father) it was the most one-sided and biased view of the subject. In the afterward, Meacham finally explains himself a bit, but it was too little too late.
Yes, because I've heard him on the radio and think he's intelligent and insightful. But if my only experience with him was this book, my answer would likely be no.
While generally a very steady and pleasant voice, I was left lukewarm on the performer. There were a few often-used words where the performer used unusual forms of the pronunciation (e.g. partisan) and I found some of his inflections to change the tone in a manner that the author probably did not intend.
Taken as a whole this work acts as a prism, separating the many facets of Jefferson's life,
mind and personality. Allowing the independent study of each while never becoming dissociated from the complex matrix of the great man himself.
An superlative performance well befitting the superlative text.
Although this book was well narrated, the story was very surface and week. There are many, many footnotes. This indicates that the author is writing more for academics than for the general public. I prefer history that is not so paranoid about being factually accurate, but rather brings to life the characters being discussed.
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