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Who Was Thomas Jefferson? Paperback – July 28, 2003

4.3 out of 5 stars 42 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Perfect for kids who are beyond easy-to-read books but not quite ready for really long biographies

About the Author

The author of more than 225 children's and young adult non-fiction books, Dennis Brindell Fradin was the winner of many awards, including the Flora Steiglitz Straus best non-fiction book of the year, two Carter Woodson awards, a Golden Kite honor plaque, and three Society of Midland Authors Best Book prizes, Dennis prided himself on writing graceful, readable prose for young people.  A born storyteller, the decade he spent as a second-grade teacher helped him perfect his fluid style of writing for children.
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Product Details

  • Age Range: 8 - 12 years
  • Grade Level: 3 - 7
  • Lexile Measure: 680L (What's this?)
  • Series: Who Was...?
  • Paperback: 112 pages
  • Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap (July 28, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0448431459
  • ISBN-13: 978-0448431451
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.2 x 7.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #11,563 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Herbert Barger on August 12, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
[...]

This author spends five pages reporting on the Jefferson-Hemings controversy and gets it wrong in most instances.

* There is NO proof that Thomas Jefferson's wife and Sally Henings were half sisters as Mr. Fradin claims (see McMurry book, "Anatomy of a Scandal."

* There is NO information anywhere that Jefferson began a relationship with Sally except an unproven claim by Madison Hemings who has been found to be inaccurate on several claims such as his naming.......FALSE. here is also NO proof that Thomas and Sally became fond of each other as Mr. Fradin claims. He also claims a forty year relationship which is unprovable.

* He states that in 1789, Sally Hemings became pregnant and Thomas Jefferson was the father. If Mr. Fradin had cared to research the facts he would have found that the original Callender Campaign Lie of September 1802 was DISPROVEN by the DNA Study. There was NO match of the DNA between Jefferson and Tom Woodson, the subject of the James Callender lie.

* Mr. Fradin says that over the next nineteen years they had six more children. There is absolutely NO proof of this. Not only that, it was over five years after they had returned to Monticello before ANY registered child for Sally was made. Only one Hemings descendant was DNA tested, HOW could Mr. Fradin make his outrageous claims. How can we be sure that his several other children books are accurate? Mr. Fradin your are remiss in distributing false and inaccurate information for our youthful readers.

I recommend that the books listed on the above mentioned web pages be read regarding the Jefferson-Hemings Controversy.

Herbert Barger
Jefferson Family Historian
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Format: Paperback
As a teacher and trained historian, I am always pleased when I see young students interested in history and learning more about people from the past. So, when I noticed so many of my students reading the "Who was" series, I assumed they were a great series that educated young readers with factual biographies. HOWEVER, after purchasing this book for my own children so that they could learn more about one of our founding fathers and certainly one of our most studied and eloquent presidents, I couldn't have been more disappointed in reading this book. Much of this particular book focuses on superfluous things in Jefferson's personal life that don't belong in a children's book, not the least of which is Jefferson's relationship with Sally Hemings. That relationship and the children of Sally Hemings take the spotlight in this biography, and sadly, much of what Fradin writes in this book is merely conjecture, since none of the information can be proven, and at this point, should be beyond the scope of our interest. This book represents the most dangerous kind of revision---one in which conjecture is presented as fact for children's consumption. This book is aimed squarely at young readers who do not cross-reference and fact check authors' sources, but accept that biographies such as these are factual. Because of the lack of integrity in this particular book, I will never purchase another book in this series, nor will I direct any young students to them. Instead, I would call all parents and educators alike to read closely what publishers deem factual and be active in teaching your young readers to think critically for themselves, especially when presented with sensationalism dressed up as fact.
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In my opinion, Jefferson was probably the most accomplished of all our early Presidents. Once you read of his varied interest, his worldly reputation, and the areas of enlightenment he brought to the early American forefront, you will better understand his importance to the early development of the United States as a world power.

History best remembers Jefferson as the author of The Declaration of Independence, a governor of Virginia Colony, minister to France. Secretary of State in Washington's first administration, vice-president to John Adams, and finally our 3rd President.

All of the above are mileposts in his accomplishments but the true interest lies in the details. Jefferson opened up the White House to members of congress including friends as well as foes. He was interactive with truly the great men of the early revolution. Benjamin Franklin, George Washington, John Hancock, James Madison, John Monroe and many more founding fathers, He initiated the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark Expedition, and finally he retired to his home at Monticello. He founded, along with James Madison The University in Virginia.

Jefferson loved the arts. He played the violin and loved to dance. He read the classics with great appetite.. Architecture was his love and many of the plants at Monticello today were planted by Jefferson many decades ago. He was very learned and serious in his endeavors. He died on the 50th anniversary of the Signing Of The Declaration Of Independence. Fittingly enough he died on July 4th.
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The "Who Was" books are a fantastic read for anyone (not just children), but my son finds this series especially FUN. The books reads easily and at the same time allows the child to learn without realizing it!
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