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Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power | [Jon Meacham]

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

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.
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Publisher's Summary

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 Drawing on archives in the United States, England, and France, as well as unpublished Jefferson presidential papers, Meacham presents Jefferson as the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American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

What the Critics Say

"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)

What Members Say

Average Customer Rating

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Performance
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  •  
    tommy adams houston,tx 03-21-13
    tommy adams houston,tx 03-21-13
    ratings
    REVIEWS
    3
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    "very much worth 18 hours of your life"
    If you could sum up Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power in three words, what would they be?

    enlightening and riveting


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Jefferson...no need to explain why


    Have you listened to any of Edward Herrmann and Jon Meacham ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    no


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    there's way more to the Thomas Jefferson you learned about in 8th grade!


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Vicki Dennington Austin, Tx 03-19-13
    Vicki Dennington Austin, Tx 03-19-13 Member Since 2012
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    3
    3
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    "Quite Enjoyable"
    What did you love best about Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power?

    The objective review of Thomas Jefferson as a complex man.


    Who was your favorite character and why?

    Thomas Jefferson, a man who was concerned with liberties while being pragmatic.


    What about Edward Herrmann and Jon Meacham ’s performance did you like?

    Both were excellent and kept you involved throughout the lengthy reading.


    If you were to make a film of this book, what would be the tag line be?

    The same as the Title.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    William Albuquerque, NM, United States 03-18-13
    William Albuquerque, NM, United States 03-18-13 Member Since 2011

    bookman

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    1
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    "Awe inspiring. The book enlivens American history"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power to be better than the print version?

    The audio version makes the experience of Jefferson personal


    What did you like best about this story?

    The contrast of the individual person, the intellectual and the practical


    What does Edward Herrmann and Jon Meacham bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    The personal and reflective approach


    Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

    The very end-the summing up of a lfe


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Steven 03-12-13
    Steven 03-12-13 Member Since 2015
    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "You Know Him But You Don't Know him"

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Al San Francisco, CA 03-05-13
    Al San Francisco, CA 03-05-13 Member Since 2011
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    51
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    5
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    "Fabulous work on Leadership"

    Shows how Jefferson was able to use his leadership skills by taking a moderate approach in life

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Keith Spring City, UT, United States 03-02-13
    Keith Spring City, UT, United States 03-02-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Waste of time and money"
    This book wasn’t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

    Someone that didn't care about discovering the truth and wanted to discredit a great man.


    What could Jon Meacham have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    If the author had done a little research instead of passing on and promoting every undocumented lie concerning Jefferson.


    Which scene was your favorite?

    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.


    If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power?

    I would have cut the entire book.


    Any additional comments?

    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.

    1 of 2 people found this review helpful
  •  
    J. Lee California 02-27-13
    J. Lee California 02-27-13 Member Since 2013

    Husband, father, building contractor, inventor and audio book lover.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "A fair hearing of a complex and astounding man."

    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.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Ken United States 02-25-13
    Ken United States 02-25-13 Member Since 2013
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    4
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    "The history, the language, the process was amazing"
    Where does Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

    I am unable to rank "Jefferson" as it falls into a category of its own. Suffice to say I was intrigued.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power?

    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!


    Have you listened to any of Edward Herrmann and Jon Meacham ’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

    Edward Herrmann is the best at reading.


    Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

    No


    Any additional comments?

    None

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    alan 02-17-13
    alan 02-17-13
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    1
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    "Great Story"
    Would you listen to Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power again? Why?

    I was very impressed by this audiobook. It was very detailed and I learnt great deal about the private and public life of Thomas Jefferson.

    Being an Australian citizen, we don’t grow up with stories of the past American Presidents like I am sure American children do, so it was refreshing to hear how much of a great man Thomas Jefferson was and how much he loved liberty.

    He truly was a man who believed in limited Government and giving the power to the people. Sadly his vision of the American Republic has greatly been lost now when you see the control that President Obama is taking over the people's rights today and what is happening in Congress.

    The story about Jefferson creating his own bible ( he created two ) was accurate but it was not explained why he decided to remove certain parts - it was simply because he wanted to capture the words of Christ wisdom to outreach to the Red Indian and not because he didn’t believe in Christs divine nature which the book proposes. A serious twisting of the truth that I think Jefferson himself would not appreciate. I have heard there is a question about the accuracy of the DNA testing and the Sally Heming’s affair – (this may require greater research.)

    But overall this is an excellent book and well worth listening to and purchasing.

    Alan - Australia


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Samuel S. Holmes Montana 02-12-13
    Samuel S. Holmes Montana 02-12-13 Member Since 2014
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    "A Great Book About Our Greatest Architect!"
    Would you consider the audio edition of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power to be better than the print version?

    Yes. With Meacham still living, Herrman has all the guidance he might need, should he have varied from the author's intent.


    What did you like best about this story?

    The insight into Jefferson's life to better understand the forces which effected him.


    What does Edward Herrmann and Jon Meacham bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

    Author's intent.


    Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

    Awe.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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