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 Drawing on archives in the United States, England, and France, as well as unpublished Jefferson presidential papers, Meacham presents Jefferson as the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American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)
An exceptionally well produced view into not only what Jefferson did, but more importantly why. The complexities of his human flaws and shortcomings is sufficiently presented along with his still remarkable achievements.
Having recently read Hamilton's biography, I wanted to read Jefferson's to get the other side of the story. This portrait provides an excellent glimpse and greater understanding of the character of this brilliant yet complex man.
If you would like to hear about Thomas Jefferson's opinions and observations about the happenings of his life without an ounce of context, this book is for you. The book basically amounts to a recitation of letters to, from, or about Mr. Jefferson and little else. The history happening in the background is either painted with extremely broad strokes or ignored all together. You learn nothing about the man, apart from his writing style and his thoughts on very vague ideas apparently unrelated to any of the immense happenings of the revolution or the formation and practice of a Democratic Republic. Just a ridiculous waste of time masquerading as history.
A must-read if you're into early American history, although Meacham is overly infatuated with his subject. Some chapters would lead you to think Jefferson was the second coming, with his many, and well-known faults and missteps seriously under reported or glossed over. Although exceptionally accurate from a historical perspective, Meacham's glowing treatment of Jefferson makes him hard to get to know as man.
Although a very long investment of time is necessary, the book is richly rewarding. It gives the listener a broad perspective not only of Jefferson's life and the early underpinnings of the American experience, but also places into context the tensions we all feel in contemporary politics and society. As a recent visitor to Monticello before listening to this book, it also made the place come alive in my memory. Mr. Meacham' writing and Mr. Hermann' narration are sublime.
I always wonder if this is a trick question and I'm just not getting the point. Is there any other answer but YES?
Edward Herrmann is one of the preeminent narrators in the business. I never tire of listening to the books he narrates. Jon Meacham should stick to writing.
The portrait painted here of Jefferson displays his frustrating personality. Immensely talented and brilliant, but also underhanded and deceptive.
I did not enjoy this book nearly as much as other presidential biographies due to the author's glossing-over of Jefferson's flaws as a man and a politician. I would have appreciated a more honest and unbiased appraisal of this particular founding father.
This biography covers his life in broad strokes. If you're looking for extreme depth and detail in the vein of unique anecdotes or fresh perspectives on his public and private life, this is not the bio for you. After listening to the incredible Andrew Jackson biography by H.W. Brands I was a little disappointed in this telling.
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