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Thomas Jefferson | [Joyce Appleby]

Thomas Jefferson

Jefferson described his election to the presidency as a second American Revolution. Historian Joyce Appleby, rigorously explores this claim. She argues that he did, in fact, transform the political landscape of the US by limiting the power of the government and eradicating the elitist practices inherited from the colonial era. His struggle to transfer influence from the upper class to the common citizen while limiting the power of the American government created a powerful vision of liberty and democracy.
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Publisher's Summary

Few presidents embody the American spirit as fully as Thomas Jefferson. He was possessed of an unrivaled political imagination, and his vision accounts for the almost utopian zeal of his two administrations. Jefferson alone among his American peers anticipated the age of democracy and bent every effort toward hastening its peaceful, consensual arrival. He realized that the spirit of democracy required not only a political revolution, but also a social one. Jefferson, of upper-class birth and upbringing, spent much of his presidency laying out a path through the aristocratic prejudices and pretensions that stood in the way of democracy.

The contradictions in his populism are striking and make Jefferson the most controversial of presidents: he spoke of inalienable human rights, but he taught his daughters that women were created for men's pleasure, and he believed that whites and blacks could never co-exist peacefully in freedom. Even though his egalitarianism was limited to white men, it represented a sharp break with the outlook and policies his predecessor. The ideological differences between Jefferson and Federalist Presidents George Washington and John Adams led to the establishment of the two-party system that still dominates American politics today.

Jefferson described his election to the presidency as a second American Revolution. For the first time, historian Joyce Appleby, rigorously explores this claim. She argues that our third president did, in fact, radically transform the political landscape of the United States by limiting the power of the government and eradicating the elitist practices inherited from the colonial era. His struggle to transfer influence from the upper class to the common citizen while limiting the power of the American government created a powerful new vision of liberty and democracy.

©2003 Joyce Appleby; (P)2003 Audio Renaissance, a division of Holtzbrinck Publishing, LLC

What the Critics Say

"Appleby has succeeded in writing as good a brief study of this complex man as is imaginable." (Publishers Weekly)

What Members Say

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  •  
    reggie p PA 08-12-03
    reggie p PA 08-12-03 Member Since 2003

    reggie

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    "Good introduction to Jefferson"

    I love Thomas Jefferson and so enjoyed this book quite a bit. It focused on his presidency but also gave a good overview of the great person he was. Being a lover of the Lewis and Clark expedition, I was disappointed that it barely mentioned the adventure. It did, however, whet my appetite for learning more about Jefferson before and after his presidency.

    6 of 6 people found this review helpful
  •  
    John Lebanon, NJ, USA 10-21-03
    John Lebanon, NJ, USA 10-21-03
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    "Ramblings About our 3rd President"

    This would be a better title for this book. I prefer biographies to be chronological and failing that chapters based on a subject and then events that deal with the subject in order. This book seems to be in no order. It seems like the author did some research on the subject and then just started writing with no outline. This makes the book more a collection of random facts than a biography.

    9 of 10 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Jeffrey Marana, AZ, United States 07-23-03
    Jeffrey Marana, AZ, United States 07-23-03 Member Since 2001
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    "Short, yet long"

    For such a short book, it was remarkably repetitive. The contradiction between Jefferson's advocacy of individual rights and ownership of slaves was dealt with ad nauseum; yet there were no new insights. The author acknowledged that there was criticism of the view that Jefferson fathered Sally Heming's kids, but, without examining the arguments, seemed to assume that he did.

    The reader should know that this book deals almost exclusively with the presidential years (perhaps that's the intent of this series of books; I've only read this one).

    18 of 21 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Davis San Pedro, CA, United States 08-15-06
    Davis San Pedro, CA, United States 08-15-06 Member Since 2005
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    "Essays, not a biography"

    This book is more akin to a series of essays about the Jefferson presidency than to a biography. Evaluated on that level, the book is interesting. Although I found the sporadic pots shots at Federalists in general and John Adams in particular annoying, the essays do provide an interesting commentary on the Jefferson presidency. What they lack, however, is much insight into Jefferson's character.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Connie OMAHA, NE, United States 03-30-08
    Connie OMAHA, NE, United States 03-30-08 Member Since 2007
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    "Informative"

    I was looking for more than just Jefferson the President but the book was well written, informative and intersting.

    0 of 2 people found this review helpful
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