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American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson Paperback – April 7, 1998
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Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
I strongly suggest R. B. Bernstein's concise, yet excellent, biography Thomas Jefferson for a great introduction to Thomas Jefferson. That unbiased book is the best brief biography of Jefferson. Then read American Sphinx as a second book. Also consider Dumas Malone's Pulitzer Prize-winning biography of Thomas Jefferson (six volumes). So many important things about Jefferson are missing from "American Sphinx."
Ellis previously wrote a fine biography of John Adams to revive the reputation of Adams (deservedly so), overshadowed by Jefferson. Adams and Jefferson bitterly disagreed on some issues, and Ellis admittedly agrees more with Adams. Therefore, it is no surprise that readers come away with a less than impressive opinion of Jefferson after reading "American Sphinx". Ellis is brilliant and accurate, but some favorable aspects of Jefferson are missing.
Ellis states in his biography of Jefferson, "My approach is selective... to focus on the values and convictions that reveal themselves in these specific historical contexts...Read more ›
More than any other American historical figure, Jefferson was incredibly aware of his future role in history, and thereby his legacy. Much of the documented historical record, both that written by him and that written to him, reflect the facts that he chose what future generations would see. Ellis breaks down five periods of Jefferson's life: (1) the period around the writing of the Declaration, (2) the years in Paris as American envoy, (3) the years in semi-seclusion during the second Washington administration, (4) his first Presidential term, (5) and his years in retirement the decade prior to his death. The main premises of Ellis' work are that Jefferson was elusive in description, contradictory in philosophy, and often devious in action.
After reading Founding Brothers by Joseph Ellis (see my review dated 7/23/01) I had enormous expectations for his previously penned biography of Thomas Jefferson. It is a good scholarly account, but falls short of the enormously readable "Founding Brothers" work that won the Pulitzer Prize. Ellis teases you by revealing the many two-faced aspects of Jefferson's character, but shies away from drawing the conclusions that Jefferson's personality was bizarre.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I thought I knew a lot about Jefferson. Ellis opened my eyes to the many facets of Jefferson,including the certainty of his affair with Sally. Read morePublished 18 days ago by anthony. j decarlo
Very well written with deep research. The opinions and conclusions of the author are sometimes questionable, but overall very much worth the time to read.Published 1 month ago by KBucks
I thought it was difficult reading - too much detail and very "wordy". And - I was disappointed in Jefferson. Didn't know he had so many unrealistic ideas.Published 1 month ago by Amazon Customer
Just a lot of politics,blah!! Not interesting at all. Usually they start slow and then pick up. Not this one. Did not interest me at all. Read morePublished 3 months ago by Randy Herto
Well written, an interesting interpretation, but not my view on America's greatest presidentPublished 4 months ago by John Galt
I was so impressed by Ellis' book that I found another to pass on to a family member.Published 4 months ago by coonsey