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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--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
As a journalist, Hitchens sticks to the facts, and doesn't seem to have any developed pet theories of his own.
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.
Hitchens conveys it so well it feels as if you had read a book much longer, wondering how he did it in so few pages.
Christopher Hitchens pulls no punches with TJ but identifies his flaws and his contributions in a balanced way. Read morePublished 10 days ago by Beth Cogswell
Excellent book made more enjoyable by Hitchens' erudition and eloquence.Published 12 days ago by Paul Pellarini
Hitchen's did his homework. It's kind of irritating though that he understands America better than we do.Published 13 days ago by Shannon
A dry biography of Jefferson's life. The writer seems more interested in showing his knowledge of rarely used words in the dictionary than making this treatise into something more... Read morePublished 19 days ago by martin dell
I felt like the author sat there with a thesaurus when writing this book. I have a good vocabulary but I needed to look up many words while reading this book. That was distracting. Read morePublished 22 days ago by D. Chris10
A concise yet thorough biography of a complicated man. Hitchens gives a side of Jefferson, the man, that few biographers are willing to discuss.Published 28 days ago by Victor M. Lopez
A well written book with a back ground of American History...Much like Frank Schaeffer I believe Thomas was a Atheist that believed in GOD. Read morePublished 29 days ago by R. L. Olsen