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American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson Paperback – April 7, 1998
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"The Black Presidency"
Rated by Vanity Fair as one of our most lucid intellectuals writing on race and politics today, this book is a provocative and lively look into the meaning of America's first black presidency. Learn more
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Pulitzer Prize-winner Joseph J. Ellis is one of the most widely read scholars of the Revolutionary period, known for bringing the tales of the founding fathers to life. Visit Amazon's Joseph J. Ellis Page.
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Top Customer Reviews
I strongly suggest R. B. Bernstein's concise, yet excellent, biography Thomas Jefferson for a great introduction to Thomas Jefferson. That unbiased book is the best brief biography of Jefferson. Then read American Sphinx as a second book. Also consider Dumas Malone's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Thomas Jefferson (six volumes). So many important things about Jefferson are missing from "American Sphinx."
Ellis previously wrote a fine biography of John Adams to revive the reputation of Adams (deservedly so), overshadowed by Jefferson. Adams and Jefferson bitterly disagreed on some issues, and Ellis admittedly agrees more with Adams. Therefore, it is no surprise that readers come away with a less than impressive opinion of Jefferson after reading "American Sphinx". Ellis is brilliant and accurate, but some favorable aspects of Jefferson are missing.
Ellis states in his biography of Jefferson, "My approach is selective... to focus on the values and convictions that reveal themselves in these specific historical contexts...Read more ›
More than any other American historical figure, Jefferson was incredibly aware of his future role in history, and thereby his legacy. Much of the documented historical record, both that written by him and that written to him, reflect the facts that he chose what future generations would see. Ellis breaks down five periods of Jefferson's life: (1) the period around the writing of the Declaration, (2) the years in Paris as American envoy, (3) the years in semi-seclusion during the second Washington administration, (4) his first Presidential term, (5) and his years in retirement the decade prior to his death. The main premises of Ellis' work are that Jefferson was elusive in description, contradictory in philosophy, and often devious in action.
After reading Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis (see my review dated 7/23/01) I had enormous expectations for his previously penned biography of Thomas Jefferson. It is a good scholarly account, but falls short of the enormously readable "Founding Brothers" work that won the Pulitzer Prize. Ellis teases you by revealing the many two-faced aspects of Jefferson's character, but shies away from drawing the conclusions that Jefferson's personality was bizarre.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
American Sphinx presents an insightful portrayal of not only one of America's most beloved founding fathers, but of the politics and political figures that influenced the times and... Read morePublished 4 days ago by June Gellis Malone
Reading this book, I realized for the first time that Thomas Jefferson, by creating a Republican form of government, in essence EMANCIPATED Each Individual! Read morePublished 29 days ago by Chayo Frank
I highly recommend this book. Ellis shared many facts about Jefferson that I was never aware of. Enjoy the story.Published 1 month ago by Doug Benzine
An interesting take on Jefferson's character. Although he kept an open mind (at the time), recent DNA testing has confirmed the Sally Hemings connection. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Robert Byers
Amazing book! Incredibly well written, from the introduction all the way to the final page. An interesting and different take on the great Thomas Jefferson!Published 2 months ago by L.Hart