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Gabler captures the friendship between Franklin and Jefferson and more ... Walter Isaacson, author of "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life." --Back cover of book.
"This is a marvelously enlightening book for both historians and wine enthusiasts." Wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr. --Back cover of book.
From the Publisher
"An Evening with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson: Dinner, Wine and Conversation" will be published on January 17, 2006--the 300th anniversary of Benjamin Franklin’s birth. The cover illustration is a reproduction of John Trumbull’s “Declaration of Independence,” and the back cover carries comments by Walter Isaacson, author of "Benjamin Franklin: An American Life," and wine critic Robert M. Parker, Jr. The Preface provides a quick overview of the book.
This book is truly meant to be read by a true history buff and a pompous wine connoisseur. If you are not either of those, do yourself a favor and skip this read. You must really know the history of the late 1700s and early 1800s and KNOW all about french wines in order to appreciate this book. There are definitely some interesting parts, but largely, this is a boorish read written by a pompous author.
This entertaining novel celebrates the friendship between towering historical figures Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. The reader is an invited guest for the evening at Jefferson's 18th century Paris residence, and present for fictional but fact based conversations. Historical characters and politicians, French Nobles, a British spy, allies and rivals...all come to life as we are privy to the most interesting stories of our Founding Fathers lives. Woven through the conversations are richly detailed accounts of European travel, critical issues of the day, society and the women in their lives. Jefferson's years in Paris cultivated a lifelong passion for the pleasures of French food and wine. Extremely well documented and cited, I particularly appreciated the Appendix listing the wines Jefferson enjoyed which are available today for the wine enthusiast. I will be purchasing this book as a gift for a history buff and wine lover.
An Evening with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson by wine expert, James Gabler, was interesting for me as a lover of American history. An interviewer named Jack travels back in time and has dinner with the two main characters. Questions for Ben and Thomas are not just about what happened during their time, but also cover current issues and what they would have done under today's circumstances. David Mallegol author of The Bronze Horsemen trilogy.
Published just in time to celebrate Benjamin Franklin's 300th birthday, James Gabler has produced a cleverly crafted and engrossing story of an imaginary encounter with Dr. Franklin and Thomas Jefferson. Journeying back in time through the vehicle of a vivid dream, the tale's narrator enjoys a sumptuous dinner in the company of Franklin and Jefferson in the latter's Paris residence as they discuss gastronomy, travel, politics and their public and private lives. Often the conversation is so intimate and reactions so plausible that the reader has the delicious feeling of eavesdropping on a very private affair.
The work's fictional aspects do not obscure Mr. Gabler's careful research into the life and times of our founding fathers. The long dinner conversation, with detailed exploration of topics ranging from the history of wine châteaux to affairs of state, is most educational. As the three men savour oysters with Meursault, pasta with Montrachet, roast beef with Haut Brion and Margaux, and pastry with Yquem, Franklin and Jefferson reflect on their adventures and promote their opinions in keeping with historical fact. Even when the conversation is at it's most speculative, such as reactions to the events surrounding 9/11, their responses are informative. Jefferson cites his own experience with Islamic terrorists in the guise of pirates from the Muslim Barbary states who were such a threat to early American shipping. Even the events at Abu Ghraib find an analogy in the documented poor treatment of British and German prisoners taken in the battle of Saratoga.
This is also a physically very attractive work with a beautiful dust cover and front plate and exquisite monochrome illustrations that contribute to its charm.
Enlightening and entertaining, this new book from Mr. Gabler will delight anyone interested in food and wine, history, politics, travel or just a good read. Heartily recommended.
From "The 30 Second Wine Advisor" on WineLoversPage.com, Jan. 27, 2006:
James M. Gabler's An Evening with Benjamin Franklin and Thomas Jefferson: Dinner, Wine, and Conversation, is as much about history as it is food and wine. Gabler, a Jefferson scholar and wine lover who wrote the memorable 1989 wine-history book Jefferson and Wine, is back on familiar ground with the new volume, which came out just in time to celebrate Franklin's 300th birthday on Jan. 17.
In contrast with Gabler's readable but scholarly approach in Jefferson and Wine, this one starts from a premise that's a bit more light-hearted: The narrator, a college history professor, falls into a deep sleep and, in a dream, is whisked back to 18th century Paris, where he enjoys a leisurely dinner with Jefferson and Franklin (both of whom really were resident in Paris at the time, around 1784).
Prompted by questions by their visitor from modern America, Franklin and Jefferson both comment on issues of their time - and of our time - in their own words, actual quotes taken from their writings. Adding a dimension of food-and-wine interest, the narrative also goes into considerable detail about what's on the table and in the revelers' wine glasses, again drawing extensively on Jefferson's and Franklin's own words.
This can lead to some engaging juxtapositions, as when Jefferson sips 1783 vintage Champagne from the monks at Hautvillers while likening the modern Patriot Act to "the Alien and Sedition acts that the Federalist Congress passed and President John Adams signed in 1798."
In Jefferson's words, he goes on to say, "One of my first decisions after becoming president was to discharge every person under punishment or persecution under the sedition law, because 'I considered that law to be a nullity, as absolute and palpable as if Congress had ordered us to fall down and worship a golden image; and that it was as much my duty to arrest its execution in every state, as it would have been to have rescued from the fiery furnace those who should have been cast into it for refusing to worship the image.'"
One assumes, as Gabler clearly does, that a latter-day Jefferson would have deep-sixed our Patriot Act with similar certitude. Then the story goes on as the dreaming professor, with a sommelier's skill, pairs a Goutte d'Or Meursault with Normandy oysters; Montrachet with a "macaroni" course sauced with olive oil, Parmigiano and anchovies; and a 1784 Haut-Brion and Margaux with boeuf a la Mode.
Their Champagne aperitif, Jefferson notes, was a still white wine resembling a modern dry white Burgundy. "Sparkling wines were little drunk in France but were alone known and drunk in foreign countries, and sold for about an eighth more."
There's nothing "dry" about the book, though. Its 264 pages of text are amply illustrated with contemporary drawings and extensively footnoted. The anachronistic dream framework might sound gimmicky, but it works. Like a well-aged Bordeaux from Jefferson's cellar, An Evening with Franklin and Jefferson is complex and interesting, worthy of contemplation but ultimately entertaining. I came away from the book enlightened and refreshed, feeling that I had learned quite a bit about Franklin and Jefferson and the 18th century world of food and wine.