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The Sage of Monticello (Jefferson & His Time (University of Virginia Press)) Paperback – May 4, 2006

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Product Details

  • Series: Jefferson & His Time (University of Virginia Press) (Book 6)
  • Paperback: 551 pages
  • Publisher: University of Virginia Press (May 4, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0813923662
  • ISBN-13: 978-0813923666
  • Product Dimensions: 9.1 x 5.9 x 1.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,513,408 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


[W]ith splendid insight and artistry, Professor Dumas Malone has reconstructed the world through which Jefferson passed, and preserved and presented to us a complex and engaging Jefferson, in a masterpiece of humanistic scholarship.

(National Endowment for the Humanities, The Chairman’s Citation, presented to Dumas Malone April 30, 1979)

About the Author

Dumas Malone, 1892–1986, spent thirty-eight years researching and writing Jefferson and His Time. In 1975 he received the Pulitzer Prize in history for the first five volumes. From 1923 to 1929 he taught at the University of Virginia; he left there to join the Dictionary of American Biography, bringing that work to completion as editor-in-chief. Subsequently, he served for seven years as director of the Harvard University Press. After serving on the faculties of Yale and Columbia, Malone retired to the University of Virginia in 1959 as the Jefferson Foundation Professor of History, a position he held until his retirement in 1962. He remained at the university as biographer-in-residence and finished his Jefferson biography at the University of Virginia, where it was begun.

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Joe Zika TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 18, 2002
Format: Paperback
Jefferson and His Time: The Sage of Monticello is the crowning jewel of this sixth out of six volume set. This Pulitzer Prize winning series about Thomas Jefferson took the author (Dumas Malone) a lifetime to write, as he started it in 1943 and finished it in 1981.
This volume takes us from the end of Jefferson's second term as President to his death. But these times are Jefferson's best in terms of his satisfaction with his immediate family, even though at times were a bit rocky, Jefferson longed of retirement from public life. Long ago friendship of John Adams was rekindled with frequent correspondence... James Madison not living too far away from Jefferson was a frequent correspondent.
Jefferson's talent wasn't wasted as he worked on the establishment and founding of the University of Virginia. He proved himself as one of the preeminent force for public education. But, Jefferson's personal debt played a role in Jefferson's energy and dreams.
We really get to see Jefferson as a man in this volume and his works for the public good emerge here. Also, we see Jefferson's health deminish and his battle for life play a part. This volume is masterfully engaging and well written. Impeccable scholarship and a life long dedication are very apparent.
If you like to read history and biographical history in particular and want to read about Thomas Jefferson, this series has to be on your short list.
I highly recommend reading this series. It has been an honor reading about one of America's most extraordinary men.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Frank J O'Connor on August 20, 2000
Format: Hardcover
If you love Jefferson, biography, American history, good writing in fat books and if you have world enough and time, this monumental six volume biography is calling you. Jefferson has taken his knocks recently and deservedly so, but while this is stronly sympathetic to the sage, it is not uncritical nor a whitewash. While Jefferson has earned his detractors, he deserves his admirers too, and in Malone he has found a worthy and eloquent celebrant of his genius. John Adams was right: Jefferson still lives and nowhere as happily as in this biography.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Chris on April 23, 2008
Format: Paperback
When I recently finally finished the 6th and final volume of this set, I realized that I knew more about Thomas Jefferson than I do about some of my friends. There is an incredible amount of information here. Although the Sally Hemings story is barely mentioned in these books because so much information has come out since the books were written, everything else is covered in great detail.

I reviewed the first 3 books as a whole under the third volume, and I'll do the same here on the final 3. I believed that the two hardest books to read were the volumes on Jefferson's presidency. Malone covered eight years in about 1,000 pages, and he went into such detail that it was actually hard to follow at times. By the time I finished reading about the Embargo Act, there was no way I could summarize it; he had written about it so much, and it was spread out throughout the volume. The same can be said, to some extent, with the Burr conspiracy.

The final book was better, even though he exhaustingly covered the establishment of the University of Virginia, probably more than necessary. I would have preferred more on the correspondence with John Adams. And while Malone gets into Jefferson's family relationships here, he was, as a writer, a better presenter of facts than he is a story teller. Nothing about this series is "narrative."

I would recommend the books to a very serious lover of history, and I suggest the audio book as a way of speeding up what will otherwise be a very slow read. But to one with casual interest in history who admires Jefferson, I'd suggest one of the many one-volume biographies.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Brian Brockmeyer on April 9, 2012
Format: Paperback
The sixth and final volume in Dumas Malone's biography of Thomas Jefferson is its most personal and humanizing. Chronicling the final 17 years of its subject's life, it is a portrait of Jefferson in winter. Leaving the presidency in 1809 at the age of 65, Jefferson returned to his beloved Monticello for what he hoped would be a tranquil and simple twilight, spending his remaining days reading, gardening, corresponding, and in domestic bliss. His golden years were to prove considerably more trying. While his retirement brought the joy of reconciling with John Adams and the pride in fathering a new university in his own image, it was also marked by increasing financial difficulties and familial discord. Jefferson, though aged, yielded little in the way of his mental faculties to time, remained astonishingly productive as both a septuagenarian and octogenarian, and tried to weather his adversities with characteristic grace and optimism.

As is true of the series as a whole, Malone is at his best when writing about Jefferson as a person, as his discussions of Jefferson's public life are often tedious and compromised by a blatant antipathy toward his subject's political opponents. THE SAGE OF MONTICELLO stands out as probably the best installment of the biography because the time frame it encompasses ensures it is primarily an exposition of the former rather than the latter, leaving Malone largely on the ground on which he is most adept. It is, nevertheless, a bit uneven.
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