Thomas Jefferson: A Life

by Willard Sterne Randall

Hardcover, 1993

Status

Available

Publication

New York : H. Holt, 1993.

Description

Combining firsthand scholarship and material drawn from the Jefferson Papers, Willard Sterne Randall calls on his skills as an investigative journalist to challenge long-held assumptions about the reasoning, motives, and works of this sage, philosopher, politician, and romantic. Exploring both Jefferson's interior and public struggles, Randall sheds important light on Jefferson's thoughts on slavery and his relationship with the slave Sally Hemmings, as well as Revolutionary and diplomatic intrigues.

User reviews

LibraryThing member RudyJohnson
In my opinion, I believe that this book should be rated right up there with the top Thomas Jefferson Bio’s out on the market today. The author wrote the biography of Thomas Jefferson in such a way that made reading interesting and comprehensible. The book covers the span of Jefferson’s life and pays close attention to Jefferson’s contributions to the founding of our country during his stay in Paris. If you haven’t read any books on Jefferson I would eagerly recommend this book by Mr. Randall.… (more)
LibraryThing member dannywon
What a monumental personality. Like Franklin, very much a renaiissance man with his scientific, political, artistic pursuits. A highly evolved intellect contained in a non-confrontational package (unlike his friend John Adams) though with a deceptively conyving personality. A lover of French cuisine, classical architecture, horticulture, the natural sciences, arts, philosophy, diplomacy, commerce; and a magnificent legal mind. The one achilles heal, and he knew it, was his being a slave holder. although, conficted about its evils, still unable to freee his own.… (more)
LibraryThing member ursula
One interesting thing about this book is that you go quite far (about 80%) before you get to Jefferson's presidency. That's kind of strange, although perhaps that choice was made because his time as a lawyer and in Virginia politics really shaped his legacy. It still felt incomplete, though, to have such a small section devoted to that. I did enjoy learning more about his marriage and personal life. I didn't realize that he experienced so many losses and that his wife was in such ill health. He seemed very devoted to her, and was much affected by her difficulties.

Some serious editing could have been used in the book - I often found myself thinking, "Didn't I already read this quote?" or "Why is he telling me this again?" Perhaps with that editing, more time could have been spent on the presidential years. Also, the author is thoroughly anti-the Sally Hemings relationship, dismissing it out of hand. The book was written before DNA tests were done, but even so, Randall considered it ridiculous and barely mentions the possibility.

Overall, a good book about Jefferson although over-long and occasionally a bit of a slog.
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Language

Barcode

7897
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