This is probably one of the best biographies I've read on a Founding Father. This came with a recommendation from Tom Wood's forum [...] as being a good book on Jefferson.
Bernstein presents probably the fairest assessment of a person from the time period as I've seen. He doesn't ascribe deity or hero worship or perfection to the man. He also doesn't disparage Jefferson for being a product of his time and class and society. Bernstein presents Jefferson as a flawed individual who is not always consistent and doesn't always come out on top - also known as "a man".
Bernstein takes a look at large periods of Jefferson's life and isn't writing to complete a minutia detailed account of every aspect of his life. However, the areas he does point to build up the man into who he would become, who he was, and how he ended life. Bernstein does reveal quite a bit that you don't learn about in history books or in school because Jefferson tends to be known for only one to two very large things - but he was so much more than those labels only. Bernstein also makes sure the reader understands some of the settings and places and even people surrounding Jefferson. Again, this is covered with a good amount of balance. Jefferson isn't the "man who could do no wrong". I did learn quite a bit about Jefferson, which should be one of the main goals when reading a biography. Bernstein does not shy away, either, of covering points of Jefferson's life like his contradictory position on slavery or his possibly fathering children from one of his slaves. Again, Bernstein, doesn't excuse it but he also doesn't call for readers of the current time to look back and denigrate those who don't hold the same values. Sadly, that's where mainstream conversations and populist books tend to go nowadays.
Bernstein does a wonderful job at presenting Jefferson and his history. I highly recommend this book for those wanting to read about Jefferson or the era of the founding of America. I would have liked Bernstein to have gone a bit more into the political discussions Jefferson had with some areas of my own interest. Sometimes he tends to write as Jefferson on one side of the issue, someone else on the other, and here's the outcome. There are times that I wish the author would provide the reasons why Jefferson held to certain positions or had certain interests. However, I believe that may be the hindrance of history rather than the author. Final Grade - A