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The Republic of Letters: The Correspondence Between Thomas Jefferson and James Madison Hardcover – Box set, January 17, 1995

ISBN-13: 978-0393036916 ISBN-10: 039303691X Edition: Box

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Editor Smith gathers together in three volumes the entire surviving correspondence of these two American giants. As neither man "ever reduced his thought to a systematic presentation" and as most of Jefferson's political thinking can only be found in his letters, this collection of nearly 1250 letters, covering a great variety of subjects, is a valuable contribution to the study of Jefferson, Madison, and their times. The editor renders this massive collection of letters useful to students and researchers of American history by dividing it into some 50 historical periods, each introduced by an overview that places the correspondence in its proper historical context. Essential for academic libraries and for any library that wishes to strengthen its collection of these two individuals.
Robert A. Curtis, Taylor Memorial P.L., Cuyahoga Falls, Ohio
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

Astonishingly enough, never before have the surviving 1200-plus letters exchanged by the third and fourth presidents been collectively published, and thus the public library that blanches at the steep price for this three-volume set will be shortchanging itself. The letters Jefferson sent during his ambassadorship to France (1785-89) constitute valuable eyewitness summaries of a crucial historical period, as is the case with most of the topics covered in their 50-year correspondence. Editor Smith sorts the epistles chronologically: Madison's confiding to Jefferson, often in their private cipher, here italicized in the text, about the Constitutional Convention of 1787; the duo's opposition to the Federalists in the new government; Jefferson's triumph in the 1800 election; Madison's own two terms as president; and their final collaboration in creating the University of Virginia. The letters are significant, and even the parsimonious library should invest in a little seed corn. Gilbert Taylor

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 2075 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Box edition (January 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039303691X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393036916
  • Product Dimensions: 0.7 x 0.5 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.7 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #636,378 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 28 people found the following review helpful By Barrie W. Bracken on May 25, 2008
Format: Hardcover
I bought this set back in 1995 before I had a computer or know what the Internet was all about. That's my rationalization for spending $150 for three volumes. If you're looking for a nice looking attractively bound set with a slip-case to impress your visitors this set is fine for you; if you're interested in content, and you know a little bit even about Jefferson and Madison, you can find much of this material on the Internet free of charge.

The three volumes containing over 2000 pages are handsomely bound, sewn signatures, and readable type. Each section of letters is accompanied by 10 to 14 pages of introduction. If I were to compare this set with the letters between Jefferson and Adams this collection word fall far short. Probably it's only real value is the letters of Madison which are more difficult to locate than the works of Jefferson. Since I consider Jefferson to be overrated I must admit my reason for buying this set was an interest in Madison. And perhaps this colors my own evaluation of the set and readers should take this into account.

What are the benefits of this set the volumes? The letters are presented in periods of activity and each period is introduced rather well. It offers a convenient way of comparing the thoughts of these two individuals on any single topic that is covered. The major problem as I see it is the limitation of topics. They seem to have been cherry picked for popular consumption. I can see an important use for this set in a library where history 101 students can find resources for a term paper. I believe the serious scholar of American history will be disappointed in this.
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