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 Drawing on archives in the United States, England, and France, as well as unpublished Jefferson presidential papers, Meacham presents Jefferson as the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American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

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  •  
    Rodney Florida 03-10-13
    Rodney Florida 03-10-13 Member Since 2015
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    "Dull and repetitive"

    I LOVE history books, I love books about American history and I've read numerous books about the Revolutionary War and our Founding Fathers. This is perhaps the dullest one I've come across. It starts off well with a sweeping intro that gives the book a great feel as if you're about to read something great and then once you're a few hours in the author is just retelling stories about Jefferson trying to hook up with some ladies - and it's not even interesting since nothing comes of it. Then the author moves on to something of mild interest and then it's back to more gossip about Jefferson trying to hook up. The worst part of this is that once again it's just not interesting, it's not scandalous, it doesn't move the story along, it's just dull.

    Anyways those looking for a great Jefferson book you can safely pass this by, this book got a ton of hype and I have no idea why. It's not awful by any means it's just that there are so many great books out there about Jefferson that there is very little reason to visit this one.

    On a positive note the reader does a great job as always.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Tim United States 03-04-13
    Tim United States 03-04-13 Member Since 2011

    My reviews are honest. No sugar coating here.

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    "From Birth till Death"

    When I think about Thomas Jefferson, I think of a great man. George Washington was our first president, but Thomas Jefferson established the foundation for the country. His vision of America was ahead of his time and writing the Declaration of Independence is just impressive, but his life outside of the White House was most interesting. His kindness to his relationships and to his grandchildren was most touching. His work before and after he became the third President of the United States, is any public figures dream, but instead boosting his public image, Jefferson was a humble man. Instead of getting a personal gain, Jefferson wanted to see progress for the nation and died in debt. Thomas Jefferson biography by Jon Meacham is excellent from birth till death. It is one of the best history books that I've read, second to David McCullough.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kathryn S. Egan Salt Lake City, Utah USA 02-25-13
    Kathryn S. Egan Salt Lake City, Utah USA 02-25-13 Member Since 2010

    "constant reader"

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    "Thomas Jefferson is still with me--like a father"
    What made the experience of listening to Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power the most enjoyable?

    I read-listned while I walked every dayl The story is so compelling I wallked longer


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

    The way he used is moral standards as bedrock to establish the U.S. as a republic


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

    I haven't


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

    The exhiliration of coming to know the mind of Thomas Jefferson


    Any additional comments?

    If you wonder about current politics and dilemmas, this book demonstrates they have always been with us.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Mark Normal, IL, United States 02-25-13
    Mark Normal, IL, United States 02-25-13 Member Since 2014
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    "Biased history"
    Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?

    Yes ... and no. Apologetic pro Jefferson book. Whitewashes faults ... skips over major negatives. Unnecessarily denigrates Jefferson opponents. Otherwise interesting.


    What do you think your next listen will be?

    Not sure.


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

    Good narration.


    Any additional comments?

    Not bad ... but apologetic biography. Very critical of Jefferson enemies including Washington while it downplays Jefferson's contributions to negative campaigning and "dirty tricks". He was a great man with big flaws ... this book misses the second part. Most of the negatives are explained away.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Fictionwriter Massachusetts 02-20-13
    Fictionwriter Massachusetts 02-20-13 Member Since 2012

    I'm a writer of everything from children's picture books to fiction to memoir. I usually listen to nonfiction, mostly history, on Audible simply because I prefer to read novels on the page. The only exception to that rule is short stories and I'm partial to the Selected Shorts Anthologies.

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    "Engrossing biography"

    I like the way Jon Meacham approaches such a towering figure, warts and all. Jefferson was a more politically wily character than I knew. It's also oddly comforting that in 1800, the Congress was just as dysfunctional as it is today and yet, somehow, our fledgling democracy survived. Ed Herrmann does an excellent job narrating as always.

    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Richard Sacramento, CA, United States 12-12-12
    Richard Sacramento, CA, United States 12-12-12 Member Since 2011
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    "A true Renaissance Man"
    Would you listen to Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power again? Why?

    Down the road yes. There is still a lot of period books I need to read first.


    How would you have changed the story to make it more enjoyable?

    Although I got a much better understanding of the man, the view of our emerging notion was not as clear as "Washington: A Life".


    0 of 1 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Austin, TX, United States 08-19-13
    John Austin, TX, United States 08-19-13 Member Since 2007
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    "A Bucket of Whitewash"

    I admire Jetterson as much as the next guy and I've never really cared much about the Hemmings business, but Meacham is determined that Jefferson can do no wrong. By the middle of the book, Jefferson sank in my esteem. He lacked moral courage in his persistent refusal to recognize his hypocrisy in making a slave his concubine and he lacked physical courage when he fled from Monticello when the British were coming.
    Meacham just keeps whitewashing his failures.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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