In Thomas Jefferson, Bernstein offers the definitive short biography of this revered American - the first concise life in six decades. Bernstein deftly synthesizes the massive scholarship on his subject into a swift, insightful, evenhanded account. Here are all of Jefferson's triumphs, contradictions, and failings, from his luxurious (and debt-burdened) life as a Virginia gentleman to his passionate belief in democracy, from his tortured defense of slavery to his relationship with Sally Hemings. Jefferson was indeed multifaceted - an architect, inventor, writer, diplomat, propagandist, planter, party leader - and Bernstein explores all these roles even as he illuminates Jefferson's central place in the American enlightenment, that "revolution of ideas" that did so much to create the nation we know today. Together with the less well-remembered points in Jefferson's thinking - the nature of the Union, his vision of who was entitled to citizenship, his dread of debt (both personal and national) - they form the heart of this lively biography.
In this marvel of compression and comprehension, we see Jefferson more clearly than in the massive studies of earlier generations. More important, we see, in Jefferson's visionary ideas, the birth of the nation's grand sense of purpose.
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Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Steve Davis on 15-07-17
Good summary of a complicated man
Well written. The voice selected was pretty devoid of inflection and was difficult to listen to for long segments.
By Andrew West on 22-06-16
short and concise
Plenty of reviews will mention the brevity of this book but that was it's intent. I found it as a great follow up to John Adams for reading a bit more into TJ. The narration is spoken very quickly as audio books are concerned ao that is my only fault I can give it. It was spoken as if it were a technical document, there was not much finesse or feeling in the reading.