Conflicted by power, Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and acted as Minister to France yet yearned for a quieter career in the Virginia legislature. Predicting that slavery would shape the future of America's development, this professed proponent of emancipation elided the issue in the Declaration and continued to own human property. An eloquent writer, he was an awkward public speaker; a reluctant candidate, he left an indelible presidential legacy.
Jefferson's statesmanship enabled him to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase with France, doubling the size of the nation, and he authorized the Lewis and Clark expedition, opening up the American frontier for exploration and settlement. Hitchens also analyzes Jefferson's handling of the Barbary War, a lesser-known chapter of his political career, when his attempt to end the kidnapping and bribery of Americans by the Barbary states, and the subsequent war with Tripoli, led to the building of the U.S. navy and the fortification of America's reputation regarding national defense.
In the background of this sophisticated analysis is a large historical drama: the fledgling nation's struggle for independence, formed in the crucible of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, and, in its shadow, the deformation of that struggle in the excesses of the French Revolution. This artful portrait of a formative figure and a turbulent era poses a challenge to anyone interested in American history -- or in the ambiguities of human nature.
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Christopher Hitchens is an excellent writer and he keeps this small book moving along fast.
Part of the Eminent Lives series Christopher Hitchens has written a great fairly short biography of Thomas Jefferson that examines the man warts and all.
Perhaps Hitchens has been a little too fair with Jefferson, it would have been totally justified to savage him just like the others.
This had kind of a beginning primer feel to it. Very definitely Jefferson 101. I wouldn’t recommend it to an American history scholar, but would suggest it for a beginner or as a... Read morePublished 24 days ago by Phil
Christopher Hitchens is an excellent writer and he keeps this small book moving along fast. He brings to it his own athesism which informs his reading of Jefferson's own... Read morePublished 25 days ago by Eric Lee Smith
In a short format biography of a complex and diverse personality, Hitchens manages to put the necessary high water mark events of Jefferson's life in the context of his philosophic... Read morePublished 1 month ago by MarriedWChildren
Very interesting insight into the Thomas Jefferson that has all the human strengths and weaknesses that normal people have. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Rudy A