Jon Meacham’s: “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power”

Dear Commons Community,

I just finished reading Jon Meacham’s:   Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power , which has been on the  best seller list for about nine weeks.  A review appeared in the New York Times on November 20, 2012.

Meacham’s book will satisfy any reader who likes biography.  It goes well into the details about Jefferson’s rise to political power with enough background on family and personal life.  It mentions and acknowledges his long relationship with his slave, Sally Hemings, but does not dwell on it.   Meacham’s most significant contribution is that he shows Jefferson as both a philosopher and a politician.  He could think great ideas and write about them in a way to move others.  By the same token, Jefferson was a skillful politician who learned how to maneuver the ins and outs of Washington.  His relationships with George Washington, John Adams and Alexander Hamilton are well covered. There is also much about Jefferson the Renaissance man, who was interested in science, agriculture, philosophy and architecture.

A the end of the book, Meacham comments:

“The three achievements he ordered carved on his tombstone – as author of the Declaration of Independence and of the Virginia Statute for Religious Liberty, and as founder of the University of Virginia- speak to his love of the liberty of the mind  and of the heart, and to his faith in the future”.


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