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 Drawing on archives in the United States, England, and France, as well as unpublished Jefferson presidential papers, Meacham presents Jefferson as the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American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)
I got to know this man who was one of the founders of the country in a much deeper way.
Haven't read the book.
The Mind of Jefferson
yes - this is a well balanced synopsis of the complex life of Thomas Jefferson, which helps to not only explain the Federalist - Anti-Federalist debates, but also paints a picture of the talented man who played a key role in nurturing and protecting the otherwise fragile Democratic Republic experiment which we and the rest of the world all take for granted.
Jefferson's love of his fellow man and his talent for keeping the peace through respect and empathy, extending to all walks of life, including even his slaves. Jefferson's early [failed] attempts to win support for emancipation, his relationship with his slave Sally Hemmings, who was also his dead wife's half sister - their children, all of whom eventually won their freedom - all add an interesting element to what might on the surface otherwise seem to be simply a shameful slave owning southern plantation story.
I recall visualizing the scenes of the younger Jefferson, reciting prose and playing music with his older sister Jane, his failed attempts at love, followed by a classic life love, and more (don't want to say too much here). Jefferson's on again, off again relationships with his political rivals, and his eventual burying of the hatchett with John Adams resulting in a series of over a hundred letters in their old age.
Not quite extreme. In classic Jeffersonian style, this book avoids too much extremeism and unnecessary drama - just like Jefferson lived his life.
I want more - I would like more details on Jefferson's life and the lives of those around him.
enlightening and riveting
Jefferson...no need to explain why
there's way more to the Thomas Jefferson you learned about in 8th grade!
The objective review of Thomas Jefferson as a complex man.
Thomas Jefferson, a man who was concerned with liberties while being pragmatic.
Both were excellent and kept you involved throughout the lengthy reading.
The same as the Title.
The audio version makes the experience of Jefferson personal
The contrast of the individual person, the intellectual and the practical
The personal and reflective approach
The very end-the summing up of a lfe
What we learned about Thomas Jefferson when we were younger is cursory at best. Here, in detail, and clearly written is the story of one of our most important Americans. Whatever political party you favor you can support Jefferson because he touched on all aspects of American life in a way that made this country stronger. Meacham makes clear that Jefferson always had the country in mind in all decisions and that puts him above "politicians" of today.
Edward Hermann's narration adds a great deal to a well researched and well written book.
Someone that didn't care about discovering the truth and wanted to discredit a great man.
If the author had done a little research instead of passing on and promoting every undocumented lie concerning Jefferson.
When I turned off the book was the best moment. Unfortunately the book was well read so I kept hoping a few true facts would surface. I was continually disappointed.
I would have cut the entire book.
At least with a paper book I could have thrown it away and felt like I had given this book what it deserved . Just deleting the book from my computer seems insufficient.
Husband, father, building contractor, inventor and audio book lover.
Jon Meacham does an excellent job of fleshing out this most improbable of men. Jefferson, an amalgamation of conflicting desires and motives, that sometimes left him on the wrong side of history, was that man. This we can see now, as we have clear hindsight to guide us. Our third president, as with all makers of history, had no such guiding light. They had to deal with those inscrutable issues with only their current knowledge and life experience. It is easy for us to make judgements about behaviors, that today, seem unconscionable, but were not then even noticeable. Although, it was clear that Jefferson knew, even then, that slavery was a blot on our nation. Still, he could not muster the will do anything substantive about it.
The author takes pains to give us the context, as well as concurrent examples of the community expectations of the day in which Jefferson lived.
This is an excellent look at the founding of our country and the men that formed these United States, and to a great extent, the wider world, that we have evolved into.
As always, Ed Herrmann is a comfortable and familiar voice that makes listening to this book a pleasure.
I am unable to rank "Jefferson" as it falls into a category of its own. Suffice to say I was intrigued.
The most memorable part of the book is the use of the English and how beautifully descriptive it was in the day. We certainly do not converse that way today!
Edward Herrmann is the best at reading.
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