Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

John Meacham. Random, $35 (800p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6766-4
Another Jefferson biography (right on the heels of Henry Wiencek’s Master of the Mountain)! Fortunately, Meacham’s is a fine work, deserving a place high on the list of long biographies of its subject even if rivaled by such shorter ones as Richard B. Bernstein’s Thomas Jefferson. Like David McCullough’s John Adams (to which it can be seen as a counterpart), Meacham’s book is a love letter to its subject. While he’s fully conversant with long-held skepticism about aspects of Jefferson’s character (his dissimulation, for instance) and his stance toward slavery, Meacham gives him the benefit of the doubt throughout (on, for example, his Revolutionary War governorship of Virginia and the draconian 1807 embargo). To Meacham, who won a Pulitzer for his American Lion, Jefferson was a philosopher/politician, and “the most successful political figure of the first half century of the American republic.” Those words only faintly suggest the inspirational tone of the entire work. Meacham understandably holds Jefferson up as the remarkable figure he was. But in the end, as fine a rendering of the nation’s third president as this book may be, it comes too close to idolization. Jefferson’s critics still have something valid to say, even if their voices here are stilled. Agent: Amanda Urban, ICM. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 07/16/2012
Release date: 11/13/2012
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Open Ebook - 1 pages - 978-1-299-18231-8
Compact Disc - 978-0-449-01133-1
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Paperback - 1334 pages - 978-0-307-99087-7
Paperback - 759 pages
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