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.
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.
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.
factual with some insights into political intrigue regarding the 1800 election and Louisiana purchase that I hadn't read before, but written in a very dry manner that made tough... Read morePublished 6 days ago by greg robinson
For a quick look into Jefferson's thinking and decisions - not as much about his personal life - it is excellent.Published 7 days ago by Julie Cline
Thought this would be a pretty standard biography and was a little disappointed. Well written, but lacks depth.Published 8 days ago by Martin Perez
I'm a Hitchens fan but prefer his articles to his books. Got a good sense of Jefferson's beliefs and achievements. Read morePublished 14 days ago by Amazon Customer
Christopher Hitchens pulls no punches with TJ but identifies his flaws and his contributions in a balanced way. Read morePublished 28 days ago by Beth Cogswell
Excellent book made more enjoyable by Hitchens' erudition and eloquence.Published 29 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 1 month ago by Shannon