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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not your typical autobiography -- but fascinating
This brief "autobiography" is not a self-promotion, an expose, or a book designed for the purpose of keeping the reader turning the pages in suspense. In fact, it has very little personal information about Jefferson or his life outside of the political happenings in which he was involved concerning the American and French revolutions. Certainly, there is no mention of...
Published on May 29, 2008 by J. Morton

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115 of 120 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Jefferson's service
I was a bit disappointed in this book. Having read and relished The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, I was anxious to read the native narrative of another of the Founding Fathers. Unfortunately, where as Franklin's book combines delightful personal details along with perspectives on the man's government service, Jefferson's autobiography is quite dry and seems to be...
Published on September 4, 2006 by C. Spock


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115 of 120 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Jefferson's service, September 4, 2006
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C. Spock (Chicago, IL United States) - See all my reviews
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I was a bit disappointed in this book. Having read and relished The Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, I was anxious to read the native narrative of another of the Founding Fathers. Unfortunately, where as Franklin's book combines delightful personal details along with perspectives on the man's government service, Jefferson's autobiography is quite dry and seems to be more an official catalog of committee deliberations than a story about his own life. The rear cover of the books states, in addition to other things, that the book "...presents a detailed account of his young life..." and "...his life in retirement." I think that one would be hard pressed to identify more than a couple paragraphs in this 101 page book in which Jefferson describes his youth or his retirement. The book was interesting, though more from the historical and political perspectives than from any insight it offers into the inner philosophy or personal life of the man.
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34 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Short, and inside perspective, August 1, 2008
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Written in 1821, TJ writes very quickly about his parents, childhood, and the time period before the revolution and spends way more time on the declaration of independence, articles of confederation, his presidency and the early 1800s.

He does include an original draft of the declaration of independence which is neat. And his section on the articles of confederation shows the many problems the states had to deal with upon becoming independent.

While Bill Clinton's autobiography was way too long, this autobio was way too short.

But the perspective is one that the history books do not often show you.
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54 of 59 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Not your typical autobiography -- but fascinating, May 29, 2008
This brief "autobiography" is not a self-promotion, an expose, or a book designed for the purpose of keeping the reader turning the pages in suspense. In fact, it has very little personal information about Jefferson or his life outside of the political happenings in which he was involved concerning the American and French revolutions. Certainly, there is no mention of his black lover, Sally Hemings, and for that matter little mention of his "real" family. Nonetheless it was to me a gripping tale that kept me reading, as I felt privy to the inner workings of the Continental Congress and the French Revolution from an influential American who was on the spot (and in the midst) of the events as they occurred. Perhaps, as a direct descendant of a signer of the Declaration of Independence, of which Jefferson was the author, I had a natural interest in this book. But I think not, as it had been sitting gathering dust on my shelf as I read lots of classic American fiction that I thought would be more rewarding. Despite (because of?) its dry, blunt, intelligent but factual style, the debates and events are center stage, with Jefferson's occasional but not obtrusive opinions being much appreciated. My great experience reading Jefferson's brief book led me to pick up W.E.B. DuBois' The Suppression of the African Slave-Trade, which covers some of the same ground although from a different perspective, and is equally rewarding.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Unfinished Autobiography of... Thomas Jefferson, November 21, 2010
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This review is from: The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson (Paperback)
Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States, is one of the most important men in the history of the world and one of the most hard to study. James Madison, Jefferson's secretary of state and successor as president, warned future scholars who would try to study the author of the Declaration of Independence that he was a man of many contradictions and is extremely hard to nail down*. No one who can be in public life as long as Thomas Jefferson was and do so without some sort of inconsistency, since no one stops learning and changing, but Jefferson jumps around more issues then most. Some of his contradictions are extremely famous. Jefferson was a champion of small federal government and more local state power. Nevertheless, he would become one of the presidents most responsible for the increase in federal power with the Louisiana Purchase. Jefferson was also a man who detested slavery to the point, as president, abolishing the overseas slave trade in America, and yet he was a man who owned slaves all his life. In this work, Jefferson tells his own story. Unfortunately, like dear Dr. Franklin before him, he does not get to complete his tale.

Jefferson grew up in a world that was changing all around him, born in the middle of the Enlightenment; the old ways were constantly being challenged by new ideas and ways of thinking. Jefferson himself would play a major role in the ever-changing world that he was a part of. As a young man, the American colonies' crisis with their mother country grew larger and Jefferson was a passionate advocate for the American cause. In this work, he lays out the argument of the colonies against mother country.

"In this I took the ground that, from the beginning, I had thought the only one orthodox or tenable, which was, that relation between Great Britain and these colonies was exactly the same as that of England and Scotland, after the accession of James, and until the union, and the same as her present relations with Hanover, having the same executive chief, but no other necessary political connection; and that our emigration from England to this country gave her no more rights over us, than the emigrations of the Danes and the Saxons gave to the present authorities of the mother country over England." p. 7

Basically, what Jefferson brilliantly explains was that the only thing the colonies had in common with Great Britain is that we shared the same king. Other then the shared monarch, we had no other legal connection. This is why the Declaration of Independence targets King George III personally, because from the American position he was the only link we had to break.

My favorite part of the autobiography is when Jefferson gets distracted and starts complaining on how infective legislatures can at times be. What starts out as a topic on the Articles of Confederation's treaty ratification methods, becomes a rant on his poor colleagues.

"Our body was a little numerous, but very contentious. Day after day was wasted on the most unimportant questions. A member, one of those afflicted with the morbid and copious flow of words, who heard with impatience any logic which was not his own, sitting near me on some occasion of a trifling but wordy debate, asked me how I could sit in silence, hearing so much false reasoning, which a word should refute? I observed to him, that to refute was easy, but to silence was impossible; that in measures brought forward by myself, I took the laboring oar, as was incumbent on me; but that in general, I was willing to listen; that if every sound argument or objection was used by some one or other of the numerous debaters, it was enough; if not, I thought it sufficient to suggest the omission, without going into a repetition of what had been already said by others: that this was a waster and abuse of the time and patience of the House, which could not be justified. And I believe that if members of deliberate bodies were to observe this course generally, they would do in a day, what takes them a week; than may at first be thought, whether Bonaparte's dumb legislature, which said nothing, and did much, may not be preferable to one which talks much, and does nothing. I severed with General Washington in the legislature of Virginia, before the revolution, and, during it, with Dr. Franklin in Congress. I never heard either of them speak ten minutes at a time, nor to any but the main point, which decides the question. They laid their shoulders to the great points knowing that the little ones would follow themselves. If the present Congress errs in too much talking, how can it be otherwise, in a body to which the people send one hundred and fifty lawyers, whose trade is to question everything, yield nothing, and talk by the hour? That one hundred and fifty lawyers should do business together, ought not to be expected. But to return again to our subject." p.52-3

In addition to being a leader in the American Revolution, Jefferson was also on hand in France to witness the emerging French Revolution. Jefferson would be a defender and cheerleader for the French Revolution long after he actually should have been. One of the most interesting parts is he blames the entire event of Queen Marie Antoinette.

"The King was now become a passive machine in the hands of the National Assembly, and had he been left to himself, he would have willingly acquiesced in whatever they should devise as best for the nation. A wise constitution would have been formed, hereditary in his line, himself placed at its head, with powers so large as to enable him to do all the good of his station, and so limited, as to restrain him from its abuse. This he would have administered, and more than this, I do not believe, he ever wished. But he had a Queen of absolute sway over his weak mind and timid virtue, and of a character the reverse of his in all points." p.92

Jefferson telling his own tale is a fascinating read, it is so sad they did not live long enough to finish the whole thing. It would have been nice hearing him describe his time as the first secretary of state, second vice president, and third president. Nevertheless, it is an enjoyable work.

* I am not quoting Madison directly, but paraphrasing. However I think you can get the main idea.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Short and a bit hard to read, July 6, 2013
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Before saying something about the book itself, I would like to address the format. I was a bit disappointed by the fact that the text quite hard to follow (and not because of the other but rather because of the format. It's as if it was scanned and no one bothered to correct it)
Regarding the content of the book, after previously reading the Autobiography of Benjamin Franklin, my expectation were quite high. I was hoping to get a glimpse of Jefferson as a person. Instead I found a listing of events, acts of congress, bills, etc. There seems to be nothing about him as a person that would offer me insight as to his character.
I assume he valued his privacy but, unlike Franklin's autobiography, this one seemed cold and distant. This coupled with the difficult reading only made me want to finish reading as soon as possible. I wish i would have bought another version of the book.
I have no doubt as to the greatness of this man and, for that reason, I will definitely get one of his biographies on Amazon.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Learned fascinating things about this idol of mine, March 31, 2013
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Downloaded to my IPod Touch to have reading material when I wait at appointments. What an amazing mind this man had!! Without him this would have been a different country. He added soul and intellect to a very large degree.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Poorly Edited, March 5, 2013
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I enjoyed the first hand account provided by Thomas Jefferson of his role in the founding of our nation and of the French revolution. However, I am certain that the original text from Mr. Jefferson was not reflected well by this e-publication. I was very disappointed to find so many gross errors and missing content. This book was not ready for publication.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Jefferson's bio, February 2, 2013
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I find the book difficult to read. But really he was a very thorough writer. It is not a thriller, but would you expect it to be. I
chose the book to follow more of his personal life and try & decide what kind of person he really was. I have not finished
it yet as it will take effort on my part. For the historical minded it is worthy.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Too narrow of a time horizon., January 27, 2013
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I wanted a more comprehensive book. This one read more like a documentary or totally boring history book. I do not recommend it.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Jefferson Stood tall in this one, January 19, 2013
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I love reading about the founding fathers. this book written by Jefferson and not by a surrogate was very enlightiening
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The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson
The Autobiography of Thomas Jefferson by Deaver Brown (Paperback - February 16, 2010)
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