Thomas Jefferson by Christopher Hitchens
Author of America (Eminent Lives)

76%

5 Critic Reviews

This opinionated, lively narrative sheds light not only on Jefferson's complex personality but on the politics of his time, making it both a fascinating character study and an excellent review of early American history.
-Publishers Weekly

Synopsis

In this unique biography of Thomas Jefferson, leading journalist and social critic Christopher Hitchens offers a startlingly new and provocative interpretation of our Founding Father. Situating Jefferson within the context of America's evolution and tracing his legacy over the past two hundred years, Hitchens brings the character of Jefferson to life as a man of his time and also as a symbolic figure beyond it.

Conflicted by power, Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and acted as Minister to France yet yearned for a quieter career in the Virginia legislature. Predicting that slavery would shape the future of America's development, this professed proponent of emancipation elided the issue in the Declaration and continued to own human property. An eloquent writer, he was an awkward public speaker; a reluctant candidate, he left an indelible presidential legacy.

Jefferson's statesmanship enabled him to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase with France, doubling the size of the nation, and he authorized the Lewis and Clark expedition, opening up the American frontier for exploration and settlement. Hitchens also analyzes Jefferson's handling of the Barbary War, a lesser-known chapter of his political career, when his attempt to end the kidnapping and bribery of Americans by the Barbary states, and the subsequent war with Tripoli, led to the building of the U.S. navy and the fortification of America's reputation regarding national defense.

In the background of this sophisticated analysis is a large historical drama: the fledgling nation's struggle for independence, formed in the crucible of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, and, in its shadow, the deformation of that struggle in the excesses of the French Revolution. This artful portrait of a formative figure and a turbulent era poses a challenge to anyone interested in American history -- or in the ambiguities of human nature.

 

About Christopher Hitchens

See more books from this Author
Christopher Hitchens was a contributing editor to Vanity Fair, Slate, and The Atlantic, and the author of numerous books, including works on Thomas Jefferson, Thomas Paine, and George Orwell. He also wrote the international bestsellers god Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything, Hitch-22: A Memoir, and Arguably. He died in December 2011.
 
Published October 13, 2009 by HarperCollins e-books. 208 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, War, Education & Reference. Non-fiction
Bestseller Status:
icon17
Peak Rank on Feb 28 2016
icon1
Weeks as Bestseller
Add Critic Review

Critic reviews for Thomas Jefferson
All: 5 | Positive: 4 | Negative: 1

Kirkus

Good
on Jun 24 2010

A politician driven by self-interest? The very thought in the matter of the master of Monticello tells us that we live in revisionist times. Hitchens’s slender study complements several lives of Jefferson while displacing none, and it’s well worth reading.

Read Full Review of Thomas Jefferson: Author of A... | See more reviews from Kirkus

Publishers Weekly

Good
on Mar 06 2016

This opinionated, lively narrative sheds light not only on Jefferson's complex personality but on the politics of his time, making it both a fascinating character study and an excellent review of early American history.

Read Full Review of Thomas Jefferson: Author of A... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

Publishers Weekly

Good
on Mar 04 2016

This opinionated, lively narrative sheds light not only on Jefferson's complex personality but on the politics of his time, making it both a fascinating character study and an excellent review of early American history.

Read Full Review of Thomas Jefferson: Author of A... | See more reviews from Publishers Weekly

NY Times

Above average
Reviewed by Ted Widmer on Jul 17 2005

To his credit, Hitchens does not gloss over Jefferson's dark side. There is a dutiful bit on Sally Hemings, and some thoughtful ruminations on the Haitian revolution, which revealed how counterrevolutionary Jefferson could be. Hitchens does not probe too deeply below the surface to explain these contradictions.

Read Full Review of Thomas Jefferson: Author of A... | See more reviews from NY Times

Blog Critics

Good
Reviewed by parenthetical on Jun 10 2005

The latest book from Christopher Hitchens, a slender biography entitled Thomas Jefferson: Author of America, draws a provocative portrait of Virginia’s favorite son, showing Jefferson in all of his brilliance as well as his baffling contradictions.

Read Full Review of Thomas Jefferson: Author of A... | See more reviews from Blog Critics

Reader Rating for Thomas Jefferson
72%

An aggregated and normalized score based on 242 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes


Rate this book!

Add Review
×