Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power In this magnificent biography the Pulitzer Prize winning author of American Lion and Franklin and Winston brings vividly to life an extraordinary man and his remarkable times Thomas

  • Title: Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
  • Author: Jon Meacham
  • ISBN: Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
  • ASIN
    B0089EHKE8
    Edition Language
    English
    Characters
  • Page: 195
  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • In this magnificent biography, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of American Lion and Franklin and Winston brings vividly to life an extraordinary man and his remarkable times Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power gives us Jefferson the politician and president, a great and complex human being forever engaged in the wars of his era Philosophers think politicians maneuver In this magnificent biography, the Pulitzer Prize winning author of American Lion and Franklin and Winston brings vividly to life an extraordinary man and his remarkable times Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power gives us Jefferson the politician and president, a great and complex human being forever engaged in the wars of his era Philosophers think politicians maneuver Jefferson s genius was that he was both and could do both, often simultaneously Such is the art of power.

    Thomas Jefferson hated confrontation, and yet his understanding of power and of human nature enabled him to move men and to marshal ideas, to learn from his mistakes, and to prevail Passionate about many things women, his family, books, science, architecture, gardens, friends, Monticello, and Paris Jefferson loved America most, and he strove over and over again, despite fierce opposition, to realize his vision the creation, survival, and success of popular government in America Jon Meacham lets us see Jefferson s world as Jefferson himself saw it, and to appreciate how Jefferson found the means to endure and win in the face of rife partisan division, economic uncertainty, and external threat Drawing on archives in the United States, England, and France, as well as unpublished Jefferson presidential papers, Meacham presents Jefferson as the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American history.

    The father of the ideal of individual liberty, of the Louisiana Purchase, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and of the settling of the West, Jefferson recognized that the genius of humanity and the genius of the new nation lay in the possibility of progress, of discovering the undiscovered and seeking the unknown From the writing of the Declaration of Independence to elegant dinners in Paris and in the President s House from political maneuverings in the boardinghouses and legislative halls of Philadelphia and New York to the infant capital on the Potomac from his complicated life at Monticello, his breathtaking house and plantation in Virginia, to the creation of the University of Virginia, Jefferson was central to the age Here too is the personal Jefferson, a man of appetite, sensuality, and passion.

    The Jefferson story resonates today not least because he led his nation through ferocious partisanship and cultural warfare amid economic change and external threats, and also because he embodies an eternal drama, the struggle of the leadership of a nation to achieve greatness in a difficult and confounding world.

    Get A Copy Online StoresAudibleBarnes NobleWalmart eBooksGoogle PlayAbebooksBook DepositoryAlibrisBetter World BooksIndieBoundLibraries Kindle Edition, 802 pages Published November 13th 2012 by Random House More Details Original Title Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power ASIN B0089EHKE8 Edition Language English Characters Thomas Jefferson Literary Awards Andrew Carnegie Medal Nominee for Nonfiction 2013 , Fraunces Tavern Museum Book Award 2013 , Choice Award Nominee for History Biography 2012 Other Editions 1 All Editions Add a New Edition Combine Less Detail Edit Details Friend Reviews To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up Reader QA To ask other readers questions about Thomas Jefferson, please sign up Popular Answered Questions What is the thesis of this book 7 likeslike 4 years ago See all 2 answers Mike That Jefferson was neither the unreasonable ideologue that his critics make him out to be nor the expounder of perfect ideals that some who would like That Jefferson was neither the unreasonable ideologue that his critics make him out to be nor the expounder of perfect ideals that some who would like to make him their standard bearer make him out to be Meacham presents him as a largely decent but naturally flawed man of his age who indulged in enough philosophy to be drawn towards ideals but who was tethered to earth by a sense of political reality that included both a legitimately good hearted desire to bring about good outcomes and a vain concern for his own reputation and material needs.My take is that, while there s no way to write a perfect biography of Jefferson, the best part of this book is that it doesn t try to force Jefferson to conform to a single clause thesis less flag See 2 questions about Thomas Jefferson Lists with This Book The American Presidents 22 books 4 voters Non Fiction Published in Year 2012 195 books 7 voters More lists with this book Community Reviews Showing 1 30 4.01 Rating details 26,106 ratings 1,770 reviews All LanguagesEnglish 1716 More filters Sort order Jun 25, 2017 Elyse Walters rated it really liked it review of another edition In Jefferson s early days of life we learn that he was born into a reputable known family Author Jon Meacham tells us that it was said that Jefferson studied 15 hours a day, rising at dawn and reading until 2 o clock each morning At twilight in Williamsburg he exercised by running to a stone a mile from town at Shadwell, he rowed a small canoe of his own across the Rivanna River and climbed the mountain he was to callMonticello For Jefferson laziness was a sin Like his father, he believed i In Jefferson s early days of life we learn that he was born into a reputable known family Author Jon Meacham tells us that it was said that Jefferson studied 15 hours a day, rising at dawn and reading until 2 o clock each morning At twilight in Williamsburg he exercised by running to a stone a mile from town at Shadwell, he rowed a small canoe of his own across the Rivanna River and climbed the mountain he was to callMonticello For Jefferson laziness was a sin Like his father, he believed in the virtues of riding and of walking, holding that a vigorous body helped create a vigorous mind Not less than two hours a day should be devoted to exercise, and the weather should be little regarded Jefferson was always asking questions He was interested in all topics from literature, science, mechanics, architecture, mathematics, horticulture philosophy, music, politics, art, and women He shunned organized religion He was also well versed in linguistics speaking several languages Jefferson soon became known as a walking encyclopedia There was juicy drama between he and women At times I thought I was reading a fiction story There were stories about his connections with woman including rejections before marriage to a slave Sally Hemings that he had a relationship with after his wife died and fathered one of her children By age 31e year was 1774.Jefferson was a husband to Martha Wayles, a father eventually they had six children , a planter, legislator, and thinker He he moved to higher ranks of political skill I m still a newbie when it comes to reading about our past presidents certainly not even close to being a historian, I m aware I don t come to these books with a depth of knowledge as others might but little by little I m soaking in past U.S Political history I might have to read these books religiously for another 10 years before I might be able to add my contextual thoughts to what I m learning I m still learning the basics.e highlights achievements Lewis and Clark Voyage of Discovery , Louisiana Purchase, avoided a war with England, played a role in the revolution, etc , his personal character and personal history I appreciate that Meacham s writing much like David McCullough presents an enjoyable storytelling easy flowing writing style Jefferson was another early President one of our founding fathers He stood for ideals but settled the best of realities He wasn t much of a speaker but he could write.Plus we get the story of how Jefferson ended up writing the Declaration of Independence Informative I learned a lot about Jeffersons strengths and imperfections read many quotes and most, I admired Jefferson s critical skills his words his writing and his analyzing issues of power Whew a little spent but in a good way parts of this book were dry for me compared to the storytelling of the last few Presidents I read lately, and I couldn t figure out if I just needed past President break or if this was a little less consistently engaging Still had its juicy moments though and I ve been working my tush off My next political adventure I own the physical book plus have a library audiobook.will be Valiant Ambition George Washington, Benedict Arnold, and the fate of the American revolution Then I hope to read Mayflower , also by Nathaniel Philbrick a few fiction novels always on the burner flag 108 likesLike see review View all 18 comments Jan 29, 2013 David Beeson rated it it was amazing review of another edition Looking around the gathered Nobel Prize winners he had invited to a White House dinner, John F Kennedy declared, I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone That quotation, included by Jon Meacham in his enthralling biography of Jefferson, gives a measure of the man, and the man fully deserves such a biography Not that it s a simple ha Looking around the gathered Nobel Prize winners he had invited to a White House dinner, John F Kennedy declared, I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone That quotation, included by Jon Meacham in his enthralling biography of Jefferson, gives a measure of the man, and the man fully deserves such a biography Not that it s a simple hagiography Meacham paints his subject in the round, not glossing over the difficult moments in his life story, such as the 1781 moment when, as governor of Virginia, his retreat before the British troops of the bloodthirsty Banastre Tarleton led to serious criticism of his performance, which would never be entirely expunged.But Meacham goes further He shows that as well as being a philosopher and a man of principle, capable of drafting the inspiring sentiments of the Declaration of Independence, Jefferson was also a practical politician perfectly prepared to act in ways that some might regard as contrary to those principles, when concrete circumstance demanded it of him I entirely sympathise with his denunciation of the Alien and Sedition Acts of his predecessor as president, and rival, John Adams I equally admire him for having the courage to take decisions on his own responsibility to defend his nation against British hostility and to extend its territory through the Louisiana purchase, although by doing so he increased the power of the executive presidency far beyond anything Adams had attempted.The ability to adhere to key principles, and to uphold them sincerely, while at the same time reaching the compromises needed for the real exercise of political authority, is a talent few have attained and which the world would do well to rediscover today Jefferson had it in spades.Of course, at times this brilliantly skillful duality can look perilously like self contradiction or even hypocrisy Nowhere is that clearer than in the matter of slavery and, particularly, the longstanding relationship Jefferson maintained with one particular slave, Sally Hemings, with whom he had several children Like Washington or Patrick Henry give me liberty or give me death , Jefferson could perfectly well see that slavery was shameful and his new nation would at some stage need to lance that boil he could equally well see the contradiction between that sense of horror and his continuing to own slaves and, in Hemings s case, to maintain a sexual relationship with one of them a sexual relationship with someone over whom he had power of ownership.Meacham does not skirt around these matters but simply states the facts, points to Jefferson s silence on the Hemings issue, and talks about the hints at justification that came from his pen slavery was simply not an issue that could be tackled at that time, or not for a bearable political cost though the political cost that would in the end be borne, in a bitter civil war and the first assassination of a president, was arguably vastly higher for having been delayed In passing, it s worth noting that John Dickinson, fellow revolutionary and member of the Continental Congress from Pennsylvania, hung behind Jefferson in willingness to break decisively from Britain, but far outpaced him in this other, harder field when he freed his slaves Jefferson only ever freed the Hemings and then only on his death.What emerges from Meacham s work is therefore a complete picture of a man, a man of towering intellect and courage, which the clear presentation of his failings highlights all the strongly in contrast And Meacham presents all this in the most readable of prose or, in my case listenable, since I chose an audio edition Both the subject matter and the way the story is told mean that anyone who likes biography and is interested in the man or his times, has to put Thomas Jefferson the Art of Power, at the top of their must read list flag 45 likesLike see review View all 11 comments Jul 07, 2015 Matt rated it really liked it review of another edition Shelves audiobook Seeking to continue my trek to better understand the birth of America and its Founding Fathers, I tackled Meacham s biography on Thomas Jefferson Choosing to infuse literary breath into one of the key actors in much of the early creation of the state and its constitutional foundations, Meacham not only offers an over arching narrative, but delves into the corners of Jefferson s life, allowing the reader to have a better and well rounded approach to this key historical figure While Meacham offe Seeking to continue my trek to better understand the birth of America and its Founding Fathers, I tackled Meacham s biography on Thomas Jefferson Choosing to infuse literary breath into one of the key actors in much of the early creation of the state and its constitutional foundations, Meacham not only offers an over arching narrative, but delves into the corners of Jefferson s life, allowing the reader to have a better and well rounded approach to this key historical figure While Meacham offers Jefferson s life through nine lenses, dividing his life into smaller and digestible portions, three significant themes emerge as central arcs to better depict Jefferson s life A synthesis of the text sees Jefferson as a committed man, a stalwart politician, and a sharp statesman These themes emerge throughout the text, even with the firm chronological flow of Meacham s tome A biography worthy of examination for the reader looking to better understand Jefferson and the rumours swirling around his earlier historical depictions.That Jefferson is a man committed to all he undertakes cannot be denied, based on Meacham s text The biography moves forward to show that Jefferson, who came from a well established family, grew up with a strong thirst for knowledge Jefferson always sought to open his mind to new ideas and to learn from whomever he could He read and spoke as one would imagine a Greek thinker might have done 2 millennia earlier, always asking questions and building his ideas on those who influenced his life From there, Jefferson became a man not only of knowledge, but one who dabbled in many areas literature, politics, science, innovation, and even architecture His passions extended outside of the esoteric, finding his greatest love in women While Meacham hints at Jefferson s fondness for the opposite sex, there is little to deter the reader from feeling that Martha Wayles was the love of his young life Their marriage, a decade long, was filled with passion and six children, though few survived Jefferson took her death personally and used his depression to fuel his aforementioned passions While rumours around his involvement with Sally Hemings, Meacham handles it with the greatest aplomb, addressing it not as a tabloid scandal but presenting its inevitable occurrence Whether the Jefferson Hemings interaction was based on an amorous connection or strictly a power relationship cannot be definitively known, though Meacham does mention reports of the strong physical resemblance of Hemings children to Jefferson and how his time on his estate matched with the pregnancies This did not mar Jefferson s life or the high regard in which he was seen His personal life and interests were strongly supported by Meacham throughout the tome, including his final years at the Monticello estate, where a detailed architectural and design discussion ensues Jefferson s connection to his personal beliefs are well rooted in his final years, as he sought to better understand the emancipation movement and the American move towards the abolition of slavery Meacham argues throughout the tome that Jefferson was a man like no other, with his own interests that fuelled his mind to the bitter end.Born in Virginia at a time of strong political sentiment and eventual rebellious sentiments towards the British, it is no wonder that Jefferson found himself at the centre of the controversies in his political life While he served in the House of Burgesses, where another Virginian named Washington made his mark, Jefferson began to hone his political skills and formulated his deeply rooted beliefs Meacham argues that Jefferson s passion with the written word acted to propel the revolutionary movement forward as he helped to create the ideas behind the Declaration of Independence and penned the final document himself This authorship saw him gain much favour within the Colonies, but he became a hunted man by the British Red Coats His political life resurrected itself after the War of Independence when he headed to Philadelphia as a delegate to the Continental Congress, but soon crossed the Atlantic to work for the new America in Paris Jefferson took that time to critique the constitutional document presented by the Congress and added his concerns Jefferson saw the intricacies of the new America and sought to individualise it from the British influence so prominent in the Colonies Jefferson s political side reared its head again after he accepted a position in Washington s Cabinet at Secretary of State, but became powerful upon his departure from that body As Jefferson saw himself as a Democratic Republican not the oxymoronic phrase it would have today , he realised that there was a need to stand for an independent minded form of government in America that did not promote a monarchy of some sort, as promoted by the Federalists He battled the likes of John Adams on this point and, as Meacham illustrates, sought to ensure that the shackles of British oppression did not seep back in with the appearance of a crowned or hereditary monarch in the collective colonial unit Meacham shows Jefferson s passion for political ideals throughout the narrative and promotes the importance of the first political schism and party politics in 1796 Meacham depicts Jefferson s political knowledge on numerous occasions throughout the tome, leaving no doubt about his political importance in early America.The image of strong statesman seems a foregone conclusion when examining Jefferson s political acumen, though the terms differ greatly In his time as Secretary of State, Jefferson sought to work effectively with the European allies that helped secure a colonial victory, while also mending fences with the British Jefferson utilised some of his time in the position to build strong ties and promote the new America, while also ensuring that this new state did not fall prey to those wishing to strike on a weakened and somewhat scattered colonial collective Meacham shows that Jefferson s ideas became his ideals, from which he would not stray This left him no choice but to leave the role when the Federalists rooted their monarch centric views within Washington s Cabinet and Jefferson found himself at odds with the likes of John Adams However, he hoped to push his republican ideas from the outside and eventually in the vice presidential role, which clashed thoroughly with the aforementioned Adams It was this that fuelled the great election of 1800, pitting Federalists against the Republican ideals on which Jefferson stumped so heavily This is also the election that required a deadlock breaking in the House of Representatives, as Meacham depicts both in the preface and with detail within the tome, where discussion of bribery and promises begat the final sway needed to secure victory Meacham illustrates that Jefferson sought to push a hands off approach to the state by positing that there need be time for Americans to find their niche Jefferson scaled back the military and navy as well, feeling that the revolutionary times were past Meacham discusses the great embargo with Britain, after a naval clash, and how the president sought to keep war off the table, no matter the public outcry for its use All this pales in Meacham s great argument surrounding the height of Jefferson s statesman role the acquisition of the Louisiana Territory from Napoleon While this might seem a little awkward, discussing land as the highlight of a presidential career, Meacham presents it in such a way as to show how Jefferson used the new constitution to develop its Living Tree doctrine even though the phrase had not yet been coined in Britain The treaty for obtaining the land had to be ratified in the Senate, but Jefferson went ahead and made the arrangements This constitutional see saw battle helped hone the precedent of executive decision making and legislative agreement It happens all the time with multinational treaties and was, as the history buff will remember, the downfall of Wilson s League of Nations Meacham utilises this example to show how Jefferson could run an effective state, while not dictating his preconceived notions to ensure success Perhaps it was this that helped solidify the republican movement and helps Meacham argue the position so effectively.It is quite difficult not to play a comparison game when the reader has delved into numerous biographies about actors whose lives intertwined Having read McCullough s John Adams and Chernow s Washington, the comparisons rise unsteadily to the surface Length is the first and greatest discrepancy here Applause to Meacham for succinctly laying out the life and times of Jefferson, while highlighting many important aspects While Meacham admits he had not sought to write a life and times of the third president, such was the final project, which skims over many of the areas that were of greatest importance I would have hoped for time on the Continental Congress and creation of the constitutional documents, for these were areas of greatest importance to Jefferson in years to come I would also have loved a further fleshing out of the personal life of Jefferson during his down years and not brief linkages Had I not read the other two biographies, I would likely not be making these comments, but I cannot unread what I had put in front of me and, like life in general, I bring these experiences to the forefront as I delve deeper in my understanding of the political and historical actors who shaped the world That being said, Meacham is a wonderful wordsmith and weaves a wonderful tale from start to finish A plethora of sources and first hand accounts pepper the text and bring the story to life in ways that few could do with such ease.One additional theme from the biography comes from its epilogue and author s note Meacham argues that while Jefferson s views were his own, he could garner much support from those around him, both at the time and in the decades centuries to come Washington and Adams had the greatest respect for the man, as did the likes of Lincoln, FDR, Truman, Kennedy, and Reagan Jefferson s views could appeal to those across the political spectrum, for they were rooted not in strict ideology, but in nation building and sovereignty While America had its share of ups and downs, these political giants all turned to Jefferson s Declaration and subsequent republican sentiments to shape the country in the 21st century For this, his legacy parallels Washington, though for different reasons.Kudos, Mr Meacham for this wonderful biographical piece Thomas Jefferson came to life in this depiction and for that you deserve the greatest of praise I look forward to examining of your work at a future time.Like hate the review An ever growing collection of others appears at flag 37 likesLike see review View 2 comments May 14, 2018 Diane rated it it was amazing review of another edition Shelves history, americana, nonfiction, audiobooks, biography This is a marvelous biography of Thomas Jefferson, who is arguably America s most complicated Founding Father Jefferson is famous for many reasons, but he is often summed up by this contradiction He wrote all men are created equal in the Declaration of Independence, and yet he owned slaves As Jon Meacham noted, it seems Jefferson meant only white, land owning men were created equal A few years ago I had the chance to visit Monticello, Jefferson s home in Virginia, and I ve been interested This is a marvelous biography of Thomas Jefferson, who is arguably America s most complicated Founding Father Jefferson is famous for many reasons, but he is often summed up by this contradiction He wrote all men are created equal in the Declaration of Independence, and yet he owned slaves As Jon Meacham noted, it seems Jefferson meant only white, land owning men were created equal A few years ago I had the chance to visit Monticello, Jefferson s home in Virginia, and I ve been interested in reading a detailed biography about him ever since I listened to this book on audio, which was read beautifully by the late, great Edward Hermann I ve listened to several audiobooks by Hermann, and he s just a fantastic reader.I loved this book on Jefferson, and was fascinated by the stories it told It s also a great complement to David McCullough s biography of John Adams Highly recommended for fans of history.Personal Note The thing I like about reading history is how comforting it is, because it provides context as to how we got where we are today Unless you ve been living off the grid for two years, you know we live in trying political times, both in America and around the world But these history books show that there have ALWAYS been trying times America s democracy has ALWAYS been messy and complicated Our politics have been ugly and contentious since this country was founded I m not excusing the behavior of any current leaders but as Meacham writes somewhat comfortingly in his new book, The Soul of America, is as a country, we ve come through dark times before and we can do it again if we follow our better angels I m not religious, but I ll say Amen to that flag 31 likesLike see review Nov 20, 2012 Daniel Attack of the Books Burton rated it liked it review of another edition Shelves biography, need to know, us history, history, founding fathers It took me a long time to begin to like Jon Meacham s portrait of Thomas Jefferson in Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power As I finished it, however, I found myself a reluctant admirer, appreciative of Meacham s style and of the biography, not to mention of the man.Meacham is the author of two previous books on American presidents, winning the Pulitzer prize for his look at Andrew Jackson American Lion Andrew Jackson in the White House With The Art of Power he delves into the life of one of the It took me a long time to begin to like Jon Meacham s portrait of Thomas Jefferson in Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power As I finished it, however, I found myself a reluctant admirer, appreciative of Meacham s style and of the biography, not to mention of the man.Meacham is the author of two previous books on American presidents, winning the Pulitzer prize for his look at Andrew Jackson American Lion Andrew Jackson in the White House With The Art of Power he delves into the life of one of the most beloved of founding fathers As he notes in the closing pages of the epilogue, Jefferson has been evoked by recent American presidents and political figures on both sides of the spectrum, proving to be an inspiration for radically different understandings of government and culture This seems to me, and Meacham endorses the idea, to be due to Jefferson s versatility in his lifetime Rather than a idealogue bound to one philosophy, Jefferson was a pragmatic politician, and while he believed in the principles of freedom he espoused in the words he penned in the declaration, the means he chose to approach and uphold those principles changed depending on his position.As they say, where you stand depends on where you sit and examples from Jefferson s life are plentiful.As a member of the opposition party and vice president during the Adams Administration, Jefferson vigorously opposed the Alien and Sedition Acts as a blot on the liberty and freedom promised by the Bill of Rights And yet, as President, he did not fully wipe out the effects of those First Amendment inhibiting laws He allowed those punished under the law to be set free, but did not immediately return the fines that had been levied from them During this same time as vice president, Jefferson wrote the Kentucky resolution James Madison wrote the Virginia resolution of the same time in which he argued, through the proxy of the Kentucky legislature, that the Alien and Sedition were unconstitutional and that the states held the right, and the duty, to declare any acts of Congress that were not authorized by the constitution unconstitutional It was a divisive argument from the man who drafted the Declaration of Independence, says Meacham, coming from the voice of the man who believed secession fatal to America instead of the man who wrote about the primacy of states rights Later, as president, Jefferson the man who had trumpeted the rights of states over the act of the national legislature acted with executive authority outside of the bounds then available to him, sending military expeditions against the Barbary states and accomplishing the Louisiana Purchase, all without Congressional approval Jefferson was to Washington and Adams what Dwight Eisenhower was to Franklin D Roosevelt and Harry Truman a president who reformed but essentially ratified an existing course of government.Jefferson wasn t so interested in doggedly following the rules and norms of his ideology as he was in, for lack of a better way to put it, finding what worked and finding a way to do it For man whose life was a study in contrasts or hypocrisy, depending on your view , pragmatism was necessary He drafted the Declaration of Independence, yet his earliest memory was of a slave handing him down on pillow to ride in a carriage and he never freed the slaves that he owned, even in death He trumpeted states rights, but expanded the scope of the federal government when the opportunity was his He loved his family dearly, but had no qualms pursuing the married woman of another man and possibly destroying hers Indeed, this comes to the thesis of Meacham s book, less a biography than a portrait Jefferson hungered for greatness, and he welded power usually through written word to obtain it A benevolent welder of what power he held, Jefferson s overriding description is that of a Renaissance man with boundless interests and whose overriding concern was the fate of democratic republicanism in America, for to his end he worried about the return of monarchical government, an influence that Meacham found as influential on Jefferson s thinking as the Cold War was on American Presidents from Truman to George H.W Bush.The short comings of Meacham s biography are few, and he does not seem interested in hiding them Setting out to restore Jefferson s image, somewhat tarnished in recent years by revelations of his sexual relationship with Sally Hemings and acclaimed biographies of Jefferson s rivals Hamilton, Adams, and Washington, especially in recent years, Meacham writes with than a little hero worship, arguing that while there have been many great presidents, none would be as interesting to spend time with as Jefferson, whose career touched on far wider a range than did his contemporary political rivals, or even of other politicians since Indeed, he is persuasive, and it s a fascinating picture that is difficult to dismiss Yes, Jefferson is a slave owner, a pragmatic politician, and an occasional philanderer But he is also a man who at his heart believed in the justice and goodness of man and who to his last day would welcome the friendship of any man who would accept his hand in fellowship.Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power is an excellent read, and Jon Meacham has written a fascinating and shining portrait of our third president and the lifetime he spent learning to weld, and then using, power flag 29 likesLike see review View all 6 comments Mar 25, 2013 Steve rated it liked it review of another edition I wanted to devour this book the way I had with bios of the other Founding Fathers, but this one was of a slog than I anticipated Meacham does a good job connecting all the big historical touchstones of Jefferson s remarkable life writing the Declaration of Independence check serving as an ambassador to France check serving in Washington s cabinet check winning election as the third president of the U.S negotiating the Louisiana Purchase, and founding the University of Virginia I wanted to devour this book the way I had with bios of the other Founding Fathers, but this one was of a slog than I anticipated Meacham does a good job connecting all the big historical touchstones of Jefferson s remarkable life writing the Declaration of Independence check serving as an ambassador to France check serving in Washington s cabinet check winning election as the third president of the U.S negotiating the Louisiana Purchase, and founding the University of Virginia in his later years check, check and check But what s missing is the literary sweep and human drama behind these events, things that David McCullough and Joseph Ellis brought to their subjects with exceptional skills Adams and Washington, respectively The Lewis and Clark expedition is barely a footnote here, perhaps because the author knew Stephen Ambrose had already told Jefferson s role in that adventure about as well as any writer could We don t get a whole lot of new insight into Jefferson s relationship with Sally Hemings for that matter To be fair, the book does pick up some narrative steam when Jefferson finally reaches the White House, but that is so far into the book that it s hard to justify the rest of the story s plodding pace A big disappointment for me flag 26 likesLike see review View all 3 comments Sep 10, 2012 Shelly rated it it was amazing review of another edition Shelves biography, non fiction, presidential bio, history, revolutionary era, arc, year 2012 I loved this book Really delves into the psyche of Thomas Jefferson, chipping to the core on the things that make him tick Meacham spends a lot of time in Virginia laying the groundwork for Jefferson s character how he loved control but hated conflict And then he builds the bridge to the presidency detailing his struggles with the executive powers that Hamilton put upon the presidency during Washington s terms and then how he embraced these very powers in his own Presidency We get to kno I loved this book Really delves into the psyche of Thomas Jefferson, chipping to the core on the things that make him tick Meacham spends a lot of time in Virginia laying the groundwork for Jefferson s character how he loved control but hated conflict And then he builds the bridge to the presidency detailing his struggles with the executive powers that Hamilton put upon the presidency during Washington s terms and then how he embraced these very powers in his own Presidency We get to know the persona of Jefferson his love of good food, fine wine and the company of others His charm and casualness invited his enemies to even enjoy dinner with him and call him cordial.Meacham also tip toes through the waters of Sally Hemmings and her family Speaks of Jefferson s faults and foibles slavery and debt He recounts most of the major Jefferson sticking points Callendar, Hamilton, Maria Cosway, Adams friendship It s all there, along with other little tidbits of Jefferson lore Agree that we really needed a readable one volume Jefferson bio to stand along those of Adams and Washington and Hamilton This may very well be it.Received an ARC from the publisher All opinions expressed are my own flag 22 likesLike see review Feb 04, 2019 Rincey rated it really liked it PSA Edward Hermann narrates the audiobook as well as a lot of other audiobooks and it is a delightful way to consume this biography flag 22 likesLike see review May 06, 2013 Steve rated it it was amazing review of another edition Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power is author Jon Meacham s fifth and most recent book, having been published in late 2012 Meacham received the Pulitzer Prize for his 2008 biography of Andrew Jackson, and has also written about Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill as well as the civil rights movement and the influence of religion in American politics The Art of Power is by a significant margin the most popular and widely read Jefferson biography av Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power is author Jon Meacham s fifth and most recent book, having been published in late 2012 Meacham received the Pulitzer Prize for his 2008 biography of Andrew Jackson, and has also written about Franklin Roosevelt and Winston Churchill as well as the civil rights movement and the influence of religion in American politics The Art of Power is by a significant margin the most popular and widely read Jefferson biography available today Well written and fast paced, Meacham s accounting of Jefferson s life is both entertaining and enjoyable, and requires little patience or fortitude on the part of the reader With about five hundred pages of text, Meacham s work seems to occupy a desirable space for modern biographies it is comprehensive enough to cover the most salient aspects of its subject s life, but is not so lengthy that it requires an exorbitant commitment of time or attention.In contrast to the exhaustive accounts of Jefferson s life authored by Dumas Malone and Merrill Peterson, Meacham s narrative almost seems to sprint through the eight decades of our third president s life Where Malone spends nearly twelve hundred pages describing Jefferson s terms as president, Meacham sets aside slightly fewer than one hundred But that is part of the delight of this biography in relatively few pages it manages to capture the essence of Jefferson, describing his core principles and philosophies, outlining his primary accomplishments and failures, and highlighting the contradictions he offers posterity.But following my five week journey through Dumas Malone s series on Jefferson, I am reminded that brevity comes at a price Important nuances in Jefferson s decision making and complex threads within his life must be ignored in order to maintain the book s brisk pace Key moments in Jefferson s presidency and the early life of our nation such as the Embargo of 1807 and the Burr conspiracy are only afforded minimal attention But happily, such a pace provides the book no opportunity to find itself bogged down in unnecessary detail or to pursue trivial tangents.What Meacham accomplishes brilliantly, in my view, is efficiently summarizing and synthesizing the various and often contradictory aspects of Jefferson s personality and offering his own view of why Jefferson acted as a patriarch, as a scientist, as a politician and as a friend as he did Though I found many of the author s conclusions less grand and sweeping than they were presumably intended to be, Meacham s perspective on Jefferson was nonetheless insightful and cogently argued The Art of Power has been criticized by some for portraying Jefferson in too flattering a light I did not detect this fault, and Meacham seems to harbor no greater sympathy for Jefferson than most biographers do with their subjects Although Meacham does seem to admire Jefferson, his affection is not without qualification.Others have pointed out that although Meacham seems to have been quite diligent in his preparation for writing this book the endnotes and bibliography alone consume over two hundred pages , it contains little that is truly new or revealing Only Meacham s central thesis that Jefferson was successful because he was simultaneously a philosopher and a politician, an idealist and a tactical strategist seems to add a new dimension to a president who has been so thoroughly explored and described.Finally, I admit to disappointment in Meacham s treatment of the possible perhaps even likely relationship between Jefferson and his slave Sally Hemings Rather than describing the controversy which has pervaded this issue for over two hundred years, Meacham treats the topic as fully resolved Only in the extensive endnotes does the reader find a multi page note admitting to, and describing, the controversy.In most ways, however, Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power lived up to the hype which has surrounded the book since its publication I found it easy, entertaining and enjoyable to read It required relatively little from me, but offered disproportionately greater rewards As a serious student of Jefferson, this would not be my first or even second stop on the lengthy journey to understanding Jefferson However, as an efficient, wonderfully descriptive and generally comprehensive introduction to Thomas Jefferson, I am unaware of better biography.Overall Rating 4 stars flag 14 likesLike see review View all 3 comments Aug 26, 2013 Jay rated it liked it review of another edition A good, very readable popular biography of Thomas Jefferson that focuses on Jefferson s use of power and influence to achieve his desired ends throughout his life Despite pointing out yet somewhat glossing over some of Jefferson s flaws, Meacham s biography is nevertheless a little too hagiographic for me to rate it higher than 3 stars I enjoyed reading the book, and even gained some new insight into Jefferson, but still came away from it feeling as though Meacham missed the mark a little A good, very readable popular biography of Thomas Jefferson that focuses on Jefferson s use of power and influence to achieve his desired ends throughout his life Despite pointing out yet somewhat glossing over some of Jefferson s flaws, Meacham s biography is nevertheless a little too hagiographic for me to rate it higher than 3 stars I enjoyed reading the book, and even gained some new insight into Jefferson, but still came away from it feeling as though Meacham missed the mark a little I have been a lifelong admirer of Thomas Jefferson, so much so that my dream since childhood was to attend Mr Jefferson s University While still a Jefferson admirer my library is full of Jeffersonian memorabilia, the bloom has somewhat gone off the rose over the years as I have continued to reassess the man in light of recent scholarship, as well as in viewing the political turmoil of his time through the lens of the political turmoil of the last 20 years Meacham s book sets out to sort of rehabilitate Jefferson after a couple of decades of multiple critically acclaimed books on Jefferson s political adversaries that have, inevitably, painted Jefferson in less than heroic terms Meacham accomplishes his goal to some extent, but only at the cost of playing down many of Jefferson s major foibles An example would be in those instances in which Meacham makes statements along the lines of some might consider Jefferson a hypocrite, but Or that some might consider Jefferson to have been paranoid about the alleged Federalist scheme to return the United States to monarchy, but Well, yes, some might Because, when viewed objectively, Jefferson WAS a hypocrite with respect to a good number of issues and Jefferson WAS paranoid in viewing his opponents in the worst light possible That doesn t mean that Jefferson wasn t heroic or that he doesn t deserve to continue to be admired He was, and he does, and Meacham s book is a good reminder of that But a critical treatment of Jefferson s use of the same power for his own ends power that was often, as admitted by both Jefferson and Meacham, extra constitutional and perhaps even unconstitutional that Jefferson condemned when used by others, would have provided a honest and balanced portrayal.Meacham s title The Art of Power gives away what he is really interested in This book is a portrait of Jefferson for the political class For the folks who LOVE power and the exercise thereof For those who view principle and constitutional limits as unfortunate and unwanted impediments to getting things done For those who view making the deal as the height of political achievement This is a portrait of Jefferson for the pundits on Meet the Press and Morning Joe This is a portrait of Jefferson for those who can view the policies and exercises of power of a president from one party as tyrannical and anti civil liberties, and view the exact same polices and exercises of power only magnified when put into practice by a president from the opposing party, as the art of getting things done.There is much to admire about Jefferson For my tastes, however, Meacham appears to admire many of the wrong things and minimizes many of the less savory aspects of Jefferson s character flag 14 likesLike see review View all 7 comments Nov 06, 2012 Cheri rated it it was amazing review of another edition It s rare when this happens I just finished the prologue to this book This eary in the book, I had the overwhelming feeling that I was reading something GREAT Oh, I m going to enjoy this book flag 14 likesLike see review Dec 07, 2012 David Eppenstein rated it really liked it review of another edition Shelves history, american history, biography, non fiction, signed collection I have read several biographies either about TJ or where he was a significant character In all of these works I have been searching for the source of his publicly perceived greatness In this book I feel I have come a bit closer to understanding it but I, as yet, cannot accept it Why, of all the Founders, does TJ merit monumental recognition alongside Washington in our nation s capital Reading this book I have added to my knowledge of this man Yes, he was truly intelligent, creative, and tal I have read several biographies either about TJ or where he was a significant character In all of these works I have been searching for the source of his publicly perceived greatness In this book I feel I have come a bit closer to understanding it but I, as yet, cannot accept it Why, of all the Founders, does TJ merit monumental recognition alongside Washington in our nation s capital Reading this book I have added to my knowledge of this man Yes, he was truly intelligent, creative, and talented but so were many others This book informs me that this icon was a simply a self centered, self indulgent, patrician control freak waving the banner of populism His contributions to the Revolution were minor compared to those of others His greatest presidential accomplishment was the Louisiana Purchase but this feat was just good luck Where is his political greatness Granted, monarchy was the Red Menace and England the Evil Empire of TJ s day but he saw or accused anybody that disagreed with him to be a monarchist Adams, a monarchist Adams was his friend and he stabbed this friend in the back to advance his interests TJ was a deceitful snake with no stomach or courage to confront his critics or opponents Yes, he had many talents but do his talents excuse his lack of character This was an exceptionally well researched and written book but I come away from it still believing TJ was our first sleazy president flag 13 likesLike see review View all 9 comments Dec 01, 2018 Amy rated it liked it review of another edition Shelves audio, bio Obviously with all biographies, how you frame your topic directs the course of the work Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power clearly lays out its frame in the title This biography looks at Jefferson s attachment to power, both politically and personally I found the idea rather intriguing Unfortunately, the author spends time harping on Jefferson s supposed affair with Sally Hemings than on the way Jefferson accumulated power Therein lies my frustration with the book As a biography, it Obviously with all biographies, how you frame your topic directs the course of the work Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power clearly lays out its frame in the title This biography looks at Jefferson s attachment to power, both politically and personally I found the idea rather intriguing Unfortunately, the author spends time harping on Jefferson s supposed affair with Sally Hemings than on the way Jefferson accumulated power Therein lies my frustration with the book As a biography, it certainly does a good job trying to capture its subject I understand why people praise it But as an analysis of Jefferson s art of power, I found it woefully lacking It gives details to his love affairs than his pursuit of power We re told he likes power We re shown how he gathered his extended family around him all his life And finally, history obviously proves Jefferson sought power, as he worked his way into the presidency But how did he do it How did he manipulate the media and win friends to his side Going on this book I d saywell, he was nice Instead of in depth analysis, we get stupid contradictions like, How could Jefferson author the Declaration of Independence and also keep slaves Instead of analyzing the way he developed a political party around him, we re repeatedly reminded that he wanted to send all African Americans back to Africa.Power is definitely a theme throughout the book, but not explored nearly enough for my tastes.To be fair, I recognize that much of my dislike of this book comes from the fact that I feel the themes the author highlights are the usual things that get beaten to death where Jefferson is concerned his debt, Sally Hemings, bypassing his original need for a constitutional amendment to enact the Louisiana purchase, playacting as a regular ole Joe when president But I acknowledge that possibly it was the popularity of this book that made these things ubiquitous with our third president, not the author recycling common knowledge flag 12 likesLike see review Mar 04, 2013 Susan rated it it was amazing review of another edition Excellent book Meacham sees Jefferson not only as the idealist and philosopher who wrote the Declaration of Independence, but as a man who learned from experience and compromised throughout his political career In fact, at the beginning of his Presidency, the Federalists were frightened that the country fail because real democracy was too dangerous and at the end of his Presidency some of the Republicans were angry that he d compromised with the Federalists to the extend that he compromised th Excellent book Meacham sees Jefferson not only as the idealist and philosopher who wrote the Declaration of Independence, but as a man who learned from experience and compromised throughout his political career In fact, at the beginning of his Presidency, the Federalists were frightened that the country fail because real democracy was too dangerous and at the end of his Presidency some of the Republicans were angry that he d compromised with the Federalists to the extend that he compromised the who idea of democracy Interestingly, there was talk of secession at both points, and in both instances the North was seen as leaving the union, perhaps to form a country with British possessions in North America Canada and to have a royalist government, maybe even go back to British rule.One of Jefferson s greatest fears was that the new United States would give up the democratic ideal and have a president for life or even a younger son of the British king as its king.His relationship with John Adams was also interesting The two were close when they were both abroad as diplomats but politics separated them as Adams became the head of the Federalist Party and Jefferson of the Republicans Only in old age did they reconcile as a result of a push by Abigail Adams and carry on a correspondence after Jefferson had retired Then, they both died on the 4th of July of 1826, Jefferson have struggled to stay alive until July 4th.Interesting to me that I ve always liked Jefferson and felt closer to his main ideas but never read very much about him Lately though I ve read biographies of Adams, Hamilton Jefferson s Nemesis and Washington so have understand the Federalist POV much better, but reading this book reminded me that Jefferson, IMHO, is the closest to the way I think.The book was interesting on the Jefferson controversy slavery he didn t free his slaves at death as did Washington, Sally Hemmings Jefferson promised his wife not to remarry sleeping with a slave, who was in fact a half sister of his wife, was not unusual at the time.I was also reminded that it was Jefferson who commissioned the Voyage of Discovery of Lewis and Clark and who made the purchase of the Louisiana Territory on his own without consulting Congress thought he at first wanted a constitutional amendment to allow it It would probably not have happened had he not acted quickly Those two acts set the scene for American expansion into the west and were therefore far seeing and critical decisions flag 11 likesLike see review View 2 comments Nov 26, 2018 Darwin8u added it Shelves 2012 With this biography, Meacham appears to continue to float in that narrative sphere between popular journalist historians Alter, Woolfe and popular academic historians Ellis, Kearns Goodwin, Morris His writing most closely resembles in many, many ways Walter Isaacson and David McCullough They write similar types of biographies and seem to inhabit a similar clumped intellectual range.That said, while Meacham s style will never perfectly thrill academic historians, this biography is interes With this biography, Meacham appears to continue to float in that narrative sphere between popular journalist historians Alter, Woolfe and popular academic historians Ellis, Kearns Goodwin, Morris His writing most closely resembles in many, many ways Walter Isaacson and David McCullough They write similar types of biographies and seem to inhabit a similar clumped intellectual range.That said, while Meacham s style will never perfectly thrill academic historians, this biography is interesting and paced well and shouldn t trouble too many presidential history buffs Meacham has never had a real boat tipping agenda with his biographies He certainly wants to make Jefferson s life, times and experiences told largely through secondary sources, anecdotes and at times brilliant story telling relevant to our current political and social setting He did this wonderfully with FDR and Jackson and has continued his record with this excellent bio of Jefferson flag 11 likesLike see review Oct 21, 2013 Julie rated it liked it review of another edition Rather stunned by all the glowing reviews of this book It struck me that Meacham told, much than showed, the story of Jefferson I found myself wishing for detail at every turn Ben Franklin lent the word self evident to the Declaration would sure love to know about that discussion Jefferson lost his horse and got dysentery on his way to report to the House of Burgesses what must that have been like in the 1700s Perhaps I just couldn t get into the mood of the book Rather stunned by all the glowing reviews of this book It struck me that Meacham told, much than showed, the story of Jefferson I found myself wishing for detail at every turn Ben Franklin lent the word self evident to the Declaration would sure love to know about that discussion Jefferson lost his horse and got dysentery on his way to report to the House of Burgesses what must that have been like in the 1700s Perhaps I just couldn t get into the mood of the book, which sometimes happens I m moving onto Ellis American Sphinx to see if I like that better flag 10 likesLike see review View all 5 comments Jun 24, 2018 Ralph Strong rated it it was amazing review of another edition great book flag 8 likesLike see review Sep 18, 2013 Jay Connor rated it really liked it review of another edition The greatest problem with a pragmatic philosopher is that in coming ages people from all perspectives can claim ownership to your ideas and ideals Jefferson is just such a chameleon whose actions often betray his language Be wary of the ideologue who self servingly quotes this founding father for likely his pearls of phrase on equality or gun rights or states rights are often costumed in reality.All of this is not to take much away from Jefferson s greatness only to diminish from those The greatest problem with a pragmatic philosopher is that in coming ages people from all perspectives can claim ownership to your ideas and ideals Jefferson is just such a chameleon whose actions often betray his language Be wary of the ideologue who self servingly quotes this founding father for likely his pearls of phrase on equality or gun rights or states rights are often costumed in reality.All of this is not to take much away from Jefferson s greatness only to diminish from those who have used him in the succeeding centuries to prove one point or another.The value of excellent history, as Meacham has presented to us here, is to understand context as well as extent of permissible extrapolation for our times This deep understanding of context as a primary animator of history is perhaps best seen in Joseph Ellis Revolutionary Summer which I reviewed several months ago.The above notwithstanding, Jefferson is a man of great words I was particularly reminded of the beauty and relevance of his first inaugural address after a very divisive election ultimately decided in the House, he sought to assure and lead the whole every difference of opinion is not a difference of principle We have called by different names brethren of the same principle We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists If there be any among us who would wish to dissolve this Union or to change its republican form, let them stand undisturbed as monuments of the safety with which error of opinion may be tolerated where reason is left free to combat it flag 8 likesLike see review Sep 27, 2014 Mahlon rated it it was amazing review of another edition Shelves read 2015 I must admit that as a committed Federalist and one who is therefore squarely in the Hamiltonian camp, I ve had a tendency to deride Jefferson as a feminine Francophile at times Therefore it is good to occasionally be reminded of how great Jefferson really was Meacham Points out that once President, Jefferson had the creative flexibility to rise above party dogma, and make decisions that were best for the country He also argues quite convincingly that to truly understand Jefferson s character I must admit that as a committed Federalist and one who is therefore squarely in the Hamiltonian camp, I ve had a tendency to deride Jefferson as a feminine Francophile at times Therefore it is good to occasionally be reminded of how great Jefferson really was Meacham Points out that once President, Jefferson had the creative flexibility to rise above party dogma, and make decisions that were best for the country He also argues quite convincingly that to truly understand Jefferson s character and the reasons behind his core beliefs, you must view the American Revolution as he did, not as an eight year tactical battle, but a 60 year war for democracy His second surprising point is that in terms of lasting political influence versus Hamilton, Jefferson wins hands down when you consider that with the exception of John Quincy Adams, four of the five presidents elected in the 30 years after Jefferson left office carried on his Democratic ideals The best Jefferson biography I ve read, if I had a criticism it would be that because Meacham has limited himself to one volume, by necessity he doesn t cover many issues in depth, but he should be lauded for the sheer amount of topics he does manage to cover Also, given that the book is titled The Art of Power , he might have given us a few examples of how Jefferson used it, rather than making the book a straight retelling of life and career flag 8 likesLike see review Jan 08, 2013 Jerome rated it really liked it review of another edition Choppy and not as in depth as it could be, but, in all, this was a great book Meacham is effective in the limited goals he sets for himself in this new biography of Jefferson He persuasively argues that Jefferson s fear of monarchists was not simple paranoia or demagoguery Jefferson was right to fear concentrations of power in monocrats be they advocates of kings, those seeking to elevate Washington to dictator, or the powerful national banking interests that Hamilton promoted Jefferson Choppy and not as in depth as it could be, but, in all, this was a great book Meacham is effective in the limited goals he sets for himself in this new biography of Jefferson He persuasively argues that Jefferson s fear of monarchists was not simple paranoia or demagoguery Jefferson was right to fear concentrations of power in monocrats be they advocates of kings, those seeking to elevate Washington to dictator, or the powerful national banking interests that Hamilton promoted Jefferson s ability to advocate and then to demonstrate the responsibility of egalitarian rule was his great contribution to American democracy.Jefferson, of course, was a man full of contradictory and paradoxical beliefs He was a Democratic Republican, but acted like a Federalist in office He pretended to hate politics, but was a remarkably shrewd, even devious politician He expanded government power while fearing such expansion at the same time He violated the Constitution than any other president He viewed slavery as an evil but owned slaves himself one of whom, Sally Hemings, he almost certainly exploited sexually He was not a particularly religious man, but considered the freedom of religion clause int he Constitution one of his signal accomplishments In short, he was the most devious man not named Ben Franklin.Despite Meacham s theme of a politician who mastered the art of power to successfully reconcile philosophy with practicality Meacham treads lightly on Jefferson s philosophy one of very few omissions in his lengthy bibliography, tellingly, is Jean Yarborough s study of Jefferson s political and moral philosophy This is a shame because his portrait of a Jefferson that does not fit the libertarian mold is provocative and interesting Meacham s Jefferson is less antipathetic to large government, federal and executive power and commerce than is commonly understood today, but Meacham does little to explore further Jefferson s thinking on these and other matters, nor does he attempt any explanation of why the Jefferson of common perception does not fit Meacham s own reading, which would have been very interesting to me His is a Jefferson of action than thought.Meacham also tries to deal with Jefferson and slavery It s a topic that demanded attention, given the light touch traditionally taken and the mass of new scholarship on the subject Jefferson s views were, unsurprisingly, complex He made several early attempts to abolish it, but by midlife he chose the pragmatic route and no longer pursued the issue He didn t think that white folks and black folks could live together, but kept one of his slaves as a concubine Meacham is leery of validating Jefferson and Sally Hemings s relationship He thinks Hemings forced Jefferson to promise to free their children in return for returning from France with him French law at the time would have allowed her to stay Interestingly, if this deal was made, Jefferson kept it despite its unenforceability once they returned to Virginia.The same man who wanted language in the Declaration of Independence attacking slavery and saw as a fireball in the night that threatened the country, there is no examination why Jefferson not only kept up his own massive coterie of slaves he also cut back on his comments and observations on why slavery should end Instead Meacham offers up that Jefferson was comfortable with the essential contradiction of the man devoted to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness who not only kept slaves but did not free them at his death as did others,like George Washington.In all, this was pretty good flag 7 likesLike see review Sep 30, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it review of another edition Shelves 2016 reads, history political, biography The complex life and the politics of the third President of the United States in a dramatic period in history are brought to the fore in Jon Meacham s Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power After nearly twenty years in which Jefferson s reputation has taken a hit through both scientific revelations and new biographies of his fellow Founders, the pragmatic philosopher who still yearned to daydream comes into better light 200 years after his time in office.Meacham approached his book as a pure biogra The complex life and the politics of the third President of the United States in a dramatic period in history are brought to the fore in Jon Meacham s Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power After nearly twenty years in which Jefferson s reputation has taken a hit through both scientific revelations and new biographies of his fellow Founders, the pragmatic philosopher who still yearned to daydream comes into better light 200 years after his time in office.Meacham approached his book as a pure biography of Jefferson not a history of the times, which meant that only events that directly affected Jefferson or his immediately family were focused upon Thus while Jefferson s own story began in 1743, Meacham sets the stage with a family history that was also a history of colonial Virginia both politically and culturally Throughout the next 500 pages, Meacham follows Jefferson in and out of Virginia with stops in Philadelphia, Paris, New York, and finally Washington D.C but through everything a special focus was on how he developed his political acumen to achieve the vision he had for the United States in the world.Jefferson s relationship with Sally Hemings is discussed throughout the book when important moments in both their lives cross While Hemings is not the focus of the book, the relationship is interwoven by Meacham into Jefferson s complicated thoughts on slavery that is thoroughly detailed towards the end of the book and is some of the best analysis in the book Yet, the focus on Jefferson s political skill in comparison to his contemporaries and his time resulted in a fairly quick book to read 505 pages that had extensive notes that could have added to the body of the book and given the book depth is the basic drawback of the book.Over the last decade, a new round of biographies of the Founding Fathers has brought praise and attention to the actual human beings we think of when we hear their names Jon Meacham s Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power is a fascinating read of a man whose words and actions are both celebrated and controversial flag 7 likesLike see review Mar 11, 2013 Sharon rated it it was amazing review of another edition Recommends it for history buffs Shelves history, nonfiction, biography Historically and personally interesting biography of Thomas Jefferson and the times in which he lived If it wasn t for his stubborn and persistent efforts to keep America a government by the people, we might be a monarchy today It s astonishing how few men of his day worked tirelessly and for most of their productive lifetimes to fend off enemies who would take over the young states or western parts of the US and to ensure that this country didn t become what the colonists had just left behind Historically and personally interesting biography of Thomas Jefferson and the times in which he lived If it wasn t for his stubborn and persistent efforts to keep America a government by the people, we might be a monarchy today It s astonishing how few men of his day worked tirelessly and for most of their productive lifetimes to fend off enemies who would take over the young states or western parts of the US and to ensure that this country didn t become what the colonists had just left behind I found some wry humor in the fact that the political parties haven t changed much in 200 years as far as mud slinging before elections and opposing each other at every turn Jefferson understood that opposing parties are essential to our democracy Jefferson was a fascinating person in both his public and private lives The book reveals his family life, his quiet hours, his concerns and thoughts, his friendships, and This is the most highly researched book I ve ever read This was a slow read for me, not exactly a page turner However, I feel enriched intellectually for the read and will always remember the lessons and history I learned If of us would read this kind of history, we would appreciate our country in new ways What we have today was hard won and lives were dedicated to providing our freedoms, whole lifetimes, in fact War isn t the only way to achieve great things It s definitely not the best way Thomas Jefferson s gentle, congenial, and highly intelligent manner belied a steely conviction that served us well He authored the Declaration of Independence and procured much of the western US for the young states Jefferson spent some years in France, living as an ambassador There are many other surprising revelations in this literary biography Recommended for anyone who enjoys history, especially of how the US came to be what it is today, and how it almost didn t flag 7 likesLike see review Oct 20, 2012 Brian rated it really liked it review of another edition Shelves american history revolution Jon Meacham provides an excellent popular biography on the life of Thomas Jefferson Without going into too much detail on anyone part of his life the author is able to give you a sample of Jefferson without bogging down in certain places as some authors have done in the past The subtitle is a little misleading since there really is no tie back to the art of power and there are but a few scant messages about the way Jefferson organizes his power and leadership style One of the nice things the Jon Meacham provides an excellent popular biography on the life of Thomas Jefferson Without going into too much detail on anyone part of his life the author is able to give you a sample of Jefferson without bogging down in certain places as some authors have done in the past The subtitle is a little misleading since there really is no tie back to the art of power and there are but a few scant messages about the way Jefferson organizes his power and leadership style One of the nice things the author does well is try to bring together the events in Jefferson s life that shaped the decisions he would make in the presidency from his time in school and as a lawyer, his failed years as Virginia s governor an finally his time as a diplomat Jefferson wore many proverbial hats from philosopher, statesman, scientist, and farmer during his life and Meacham captures all of those in this biography Overall the pragmatic side of Jefferson s leadership shines here and a look at how the philosopher differed with the ideal was thoroughly explored at various points during the book especially during his presidency with regards to the Louisiana purchase and the embargo of English goods For those looking for an indepth look or have read a lot about Jefferson this is probably not going to shed a lot of new light other than spending some extra time on his years as governor that other biographies skirt over For those just starting out with the founding fathers I think there is a lot of value here flag 7 likesLike see review Jul 03, 2012 Rick rated it liked it review of another edition Shelves giveaway reads Won this Advanced Readers Edition of Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power through GR Giveaways, after some consideration whether I should enter the Giveaway in the first place I like nonfiction, biography, and history and this book represented all three but I had some misgivings What can be said of Thomas Jefferson There already exists a body of work on Jefferson that is spectacular noting just the five volume 1975 Pulitzer Prize winning effort of Dumas Malone Jefferson and his Won this Advanced Readers Edition of Thomas Jefferson The Art of Power through GR Giveaways, after some consideration whether I should enter the Giveaway in the first place I like nonfiction, biography, and history and this book represented all three but I had some misgivings What can be said of Thomas Jefferson There already exists a body of work on Jefferson that is spectacular noting just the five volume 1975 Pulitzer Prize winning effort of Dumas Malone Jefferson and his Time and the 1997 National Book Award winner of Joe Ellis American Sphinx The Character of Thomas Jefferson as examples We even have a Pulitzer Prize winner on one of Jefferson s liaisons Annette Gordon Reed s 2009 The Hemingses of Monticello So when it comes to Jefferson the bar has been set pretty high But then, this was Jon Meacham a Pulitzer prize winner himself in 2009 for American Lion Andrew Jackson in the White House So I entered and won this copy Here s my take.In sum I found the book a bit plodding When it stayed on topic that being how Jefferson maneuvered his way through the various political circles e.g Virginia House of Burgesses, Continental Congress, Governor of Virginia, Secretary of State, President and diplomatic circles e.g Ambassador to France , it was a wonderful read It showed how Jefferson watched and learned and honed his skills how he developed that Art of Power But it did not stay on topic enough The Prologue sets the tone nicely, but then Part I runs off 55 pages of background and childhood that, while of mild interest, had nothing to do with the Art of Power The insertion of tangential information that didn t push the Art of Power theme happened often often enough that the book is probably 200 pages too long The book weighs in at around 700 pages, the last 200 or so being Notes, Bibliography, and Index So we have about 500 pages to work with Taking out 200 or so pages of peripheral material would have consolidated it into a 300 page focused piece and would have made it much approachable So I have to say I was only mildly interested in the book it was good not great It was nicely written and professionally presented, but it just did not rise to the bar it had to reach to earn a spot alongside Meacham s other works For those that know little about Thomas Jefferson, this would make an excellent primer for those with basic background on the subject, this volume doesn t add much to the body of knowledge flag 6 likesLike see review Dec 10, 2012 Mlg rated it it was amazing review of another edition Shelves non fiction Fascinating portrayal of our third president, a man of startling contradictions Meacham shows him as a man opposed to slavery, yet who kept over 600 slaves on his plantations He also participated in the removal of the indians and believed that if the slaves were to be freed, they should be sent back to Africa Jefferson s interest in all areas of learning was an exceptional part of his personality Jefferson s personal life was equally interesting His wife died young and extracted a promise Fascinating portrayal of our third president, a man of startling contradictions Meacham shows him as a man opposed to slavery, yet who kept over 600 slaves on his plantations He also participated in the removal of the indians and believed that if the slaves were to be freed, they should be sent back to Africa Jefferson s interest in all areas of learning was an exceptional part of his personality Jefferson s personal life was equally interesting His wife died young and extracted a promise from him never to remarry Apparently his long time relationship with her half sister Sally Hemmings did not violate that pledge in his eyes He showered his grandchildren with gifts he could not afford, but made his slave children work on the plantation and showed them no affection Jefferson s feud with Adams is also a significant part of the book When they reconciled, their letters on a wide ranging number of subjects seem to fill the intellectual void that retirement had brought He was courtly and valued the word of another, yet left debts between 1 2 million dollars Great books not only hold your attention, but make you want to learn about the other individuals in the story This is that type of book I can think of at least three or four individuals in his story that would be great biographies to read flag 6 likesLike see review View all 3 comments Feb 06, 2016 W Whalin rated it really liked it review of another edition A fascinating look at the life of the third president of the United States His immense impact on our world and culture carries into today s world The detail and insights were incredible and it s worth listening to the entire book as I did I highly recommend the experience flag 6 likesLike see review Jul 07, 2016 David Huff rated it really liked it review of another edition Shelves audio book I found myself wondering, often, as I read this book, what Jefferson must have thought and felt as a young man, as he penned the Declaration of Independence that hot summer in Philadelphia whether he could have imagined what a revered document it would still be, close to 2 1 2 centuries later Meacham has written a fine, though selective, account of Jefferson s amazingly full life There are many minutely detailed accounts of his life to be found, but The Art of Power give a good, thor I found myself wondering, often, as I read this book, what Jefferson must have thought and felt as a young man, as he penned the Declaration of Independence that hot summer in Philadelphia whether he could have imagined what a revered document it would still be, close to 2 1 2 centuries later Meacham has written a fine, though selective, account of Jefferson s amazingly full life There are many minutely detailed accounts of his life to be found, but The Art of Power give a good, thorough overview of the 80 years of our 3rd President s life and accomplishments and some of his faults as well.It s fascinating that Jefferson and John Adams, ex presidents, political adversaries, but old friends to the end, both died on July 4, 1826 the 50th anniversary of the Declaration Jefferson, who had been gravely ill for a few weeks, literally willed himself to live until he saw July 4th arrive I learned much from this book, about a true Renaissance man a musician, a lover of literature, fine wine, culture, science, farming, philosophy, and so incredibly much , with an insatiable curiosity and thirst for learning A man who served in Virginia s state government, then as governor, vice president, secretary of state, ambassador to France, a two term president, and late in his life, the founder of the University of Virginia Jefferson engineered the Louisiana purchase, and pushed hard against the Federalists especially Hamilton for the maintenance of a Democratic Republic, which he hoped would never lean back toward monarchy.Jefferson also had his faults he opposed slavery, but was a lifelong slaveholder at his beloved Monticello estate He fathered several children with one of his slaves, Sally Hemmings I learned she was actually of mixed race, as well as being the half sister of Jefferson s wife who tragically died very young Jefferson also had lifelong criticism from some quarters for his flight from the British in Virginia during his term as governor His tastes for the finer things in life also kept him perpetually in debt throughout his lifetime.Still, Jefferson had an incalculable impact on the founding of America, and his influence continues through the generations He was a man who hated conflict, but used power when necessary a great conversationalist but a so so public speaker very gifted with a pen, and a speaker of multiple languages I enjoyed this book, and would definitely recommend it flag 6 likesLike see review Mar 31, 2013 karl rated it liked it review of another edition My heart loves fiction shoot em ups My head makes me read nonfiction I slogged through this well searched biography of Jefferson TJ , who I admire and respect When I was about to write this short review I looked at It said it all about him That made me thinks, Why didn t I spend 10 minutes on and have hours for non fiction Great question No good answer.The book should have been trimmed by 1 3 Too many quotes from Jefferson s papers I found it often repetitiv My heart loves fiction shoot em ups My head makes me read nonfiction I slogged through this well searched biography of Jefferson TJ , who I admire and respect When I was about to write this short review I looked at It said it all about him That made me thinks, Why didn t I spend 10 minutes on and have hours for non fiction Great question No good answer.The book should have been trimmed by 1 3 Too many quotes from Jefferson s papers I found it often repetitive Consider that w o email and phones, 200 years ago they wrote and wrote To do a biography on Jefferson has to be a huge effort Kudos to the author on that Still, it was a slog, overdone, too long, boring Tj was the 1st Secretary of State, the 2nd VP, and the 3rd President He read 5 or 6 languages He had only 1 child of 6 who out lived him He had children with his wife s half sister white dad and slave mom , who were not acknowledged at the time He spent than his income, so his assets increasingly over time were encumbered Good for him, he drank a lot of wine every night.The one thing that is not in Wiki that comes through all the time in this text is how TJ was afraid of the Federalists e.g Hamilton, and even John Adams They tilted towards an English system of lords and heredity and control over the population TJ strove for state s rights The Alien and Sedition Acts of late 1790 s especially bothered him as they gave the government the shut down complaints He righted that flag 5 likesLike see review Feb 06, 2013 Jill Hutchinson rated it liked it review of another edition Shelves biography, american history I don t usually read Presidential biographies but this one had a little different approach which made it worthwhile Rather than probing Jefferson s personal life in depth, the author provided us a word picture on those aspects of his personality and style which gave him the ability to help shape and govern the new and rather amorphous place called the United States of America I also found his supporting cast in the government quite fascinating Meacham shows us that Jefferson was rather an I don t usually read Presidential biographies but this one had a little different approach which made it worthwhile Rather than probing Jefferson s personal life in depth, the author provided us a word picture on those aspects of his personality and style which gave him the ability to help shape and govern the new and rather amorphous place called the United States of America I also found his supporting cast in the government quite fascinating Meacham shows us that Jefferson was rather an enigma and not always a paragon of idealism Overall, it was an interesting approach to the man and his time flag 5 likesLike see review Jun 05, 2016 Larry Bassett rated it really liked it review of another edition Shelves audio This is another fascinating audible book about one of the post revolutionary presidents Author Meacham presents Jefferson as a man of power and control He also presents a good deal of information about Jeffersons relationship with Sally Hemmings It goes without saying that he was a complex character with a combination of friendliness and determination I was fascinated to learn the Jeffersons wife of 10 years was a half sister of Sally Hemmings She died young and Jefferson promised her on he This is another fascinating audible book about one of the post revolutionary presidents Author Meacham presents Jefferson as a man of power and control He also presents a good deal of information about Jeffersons relationship with Sally Hemmings It goes without saying that he was a complex character with a combination of friendliness and determination I was fascinated to learn the Jeffersons wife of 10 years was a half sister of Sally Hemmings She died young and Jefferson promised her on her deathbed that he would never remarry The early deaths of children and adults is a constant occurrence in that era flag 5 likesLike see review previous 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next new topicDiscuss This Book topics posts views last activity UCAS English 11 R October Reading 1 5 Oct 28, 2018 10 10AM Presidential Biog Jefferson Discussion 7 35 May 02, 2016 08 15AM opinion 15 86 Oct 01, 2014 02 56PM The History Book 1 THOMAS JEFFERSON THE ART OF POWER PROLOGUE, CHAPTERS 1 3 xxv 36 November 19th November 25th No Spoilers, Please 110 189 Aug 08, 2013 04 16AM The History Book 12 THOMAS JEFFERSON THE ART OF POWER CHAPTERS 43 EPILOGUE 477 493 February 4th February 10th No Spoilers, Please 36 55 May 10, 2013 07 01AM More topics Share Recommend It Stats Recent Status Updates Readers also enjoyed

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