From an eminent scholar of the American South, the first full-scale biography of Thomas Jefferson since 1970.
Not since Merrill Peterson's Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation has a scholar attempted to write a comprehensive biography of the most complex Founding Father. In Jefferson, John B. Boles plumbs every facet of Thomas Jefferson's life, all while situating him amid the sweeping upheaval of his times. We meet Jefferson the politician and political thinker - as well as Jefferson the architect, scientist, bibliophile, paleontologist, musician, and gourmet. We witness him drafting of the Declaration of Independence, negotiating the Louisiana Purchase, and inventing a politics that emphasized the states over the federal government - a political philosophy that shapes our national life to this day.
Boles offers new insight into Jefferson's actions and thinking on race. His Jefferson is not a hypocrite, but a tragic figure - a man who could not hold simultaneously to his views on abolition, democracy, and patriarchal responsibility. Yet despite his flaws, Jefferson's ideas would outlive him and make him into nothing less than the architect of American liberty.
"In a narrative as majestic as its subject, Boles takes a fresh, nuanced look at one of the America's most enigmatic founding fathers...Boles, an accomplished scholar well versed in the source material, deftly paints a picture of the world as Jefferson knew it, taking care not to mix up understanding with excusing, especially with the Virginian's relationship with Sally Hemings. This is a gem of a biography." (Publishers Weekly)
"A fully fleshed biography of Thomas Jefferson that emphasizes his creative paradoxes and accomplishments...A stately, knowledgeable study." (Kirkus Reviews)
"John Boles's Jefferson is learned, fluent, sensitive, and magnificently detailed. It gives due attention to the intellectual currents and social circumstances that made Jefferson who he was, and its careful engagement with the complexities of slavery is convincingly integrated into the whole. Professor Boles has earned an eminent place for himself in the ever-active field of Jefferson studies." (Andrew Burstein, author of Jefferson's Secrets and coauthor of Madison and Jefferson)
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Excellent book in combination with Hamilton
- Tyler D Mace