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Original Essays | September 15, 2014

Lois Leveen: IMG Forsooth Me Not: Shakespeare, Juliet, Her Nurse, and a Novel



There's this writer, William Shakespeare. Perhaps you've heard of him. He wrote this play, Romeo and Juliet. Maybe you've heard of it as well. It's... Continue »
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Thomas Jefferson: Author of America

by

Thomas Jefferson: Author of America Cover

 

Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

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.

Review:

"In this brief yet dense biography, the newest in HarperCollins's Eminent Lives series, Hitchens (A Long Short War, etc.) proposes that Jefferson 'designed America' when he wrote the Declaration of Independence, establishing 'the concept of human rights, for the first time in history, as the basis for a republic.' Hitchens is quick to point out, however, the obvious contradiction-that Jefferson was both an advocate for freedom and a slaveholder. Beginning with his aristocratic upbringing, which Jefferson purportedly viewed with 'indifference,' this biography explores both the private and public aspects of Jefferson's life, from his political philosophies to his affair with his slave Sally Hemings. In an attempt to set the facts straight about Hemings, Hitchens explains that, while technically a slave, she was actually related to Jefferson's wife and was treated 'more like a privileged housemaid.' Presenting countless excerpts from Jefferson's writings, Hitchens closely analyzes the President's words to reveal the Enlightenment ideas that shaped American policy, such as the separation of church and state and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. 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 (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)

Review:

"A lucid, gently critical view of the great president and empire-builder and most literate of politicians.... Hitchens's slender study complements several lives of Jefferson while displacing none, and it's well worth reading." Kirkus Reviews

Review:

"Hitchens brings a refreshing perspective to the task, both in that he has not written at length about the founding moment and in that he sees Jefferson from the perspective of a Briton, albeit an Americanized one.... To his credit, Hitchens does not gloss over Jefferson's dark side." New York Times

Book News Annotation:

In his political biography of Thomas Jefferson, Hitchens (a contributing editor to Vanity Fair) emphasizes his subject's contradictions and their influence on the development of the United States. He discusses the conflict between Jefferson's commitments to liberty and his own ownership of slaves. He also looks at Jefferson's wars with the Barbary states as it related to his views on the role of the military in American society, as well as his diplomacy with France that resulted in the Louisiana Purchase.
Annotation 2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Book News Annotation:

In his political biography of Thomas Jefferson, Hitchens (a contributing editor to Vanity Fair) emphasizes his subject's contradictions and their influence on the development of the United States. He discusses the conflict between Jefferson's commitments to liberty and his own ownership of slaves. He also looks at Jefferson's wars with the Barbary states as it related to his views on the role of the military in American society, as well as his diplomacy with France that resulted in the Louisiana Purchase. Annotation ©2006 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)

Synopsis:

This compelling new biography of Jefferson is set amid the historical drama of the new nation's struggle for independence. The author presents a portrait of a formative figure and a turbulent era in history.

About the Author

Christopher Hitchens, one of the most controversial and compelling voices in Anglo-American journalism, has published more than a dozen books, most recently Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays. A contributing editor to Vanity Fair, he also writes a monthly column for The Atlantic, and his work regularly appears in The New York Times Book Review, The Nation, Harper's, Slate, and The New York Review of Books, among other publications. He lives with his family in Washington, D.C.

Product Details

ISBN:
9780060598969
Subtitle:
Author of America
Author:
Hitchens, Christopher
Author:
Hitchens, Christopher
Author:
by Christopher Hitchens
Author:
Prior, Lily
Publisher:
Eminent Lives
Subject:
Historical - U.S.
Subject:
United states
Subject:
Presidents
Subject:
United States - 19th Century
Subject:
Presidents & Heads of State
Subject:
United States - State & Local - General
Subject:
Presidents -- United States.
Subject:
Jefferson, Thomas
Subject:
General Fiction
Subject:
Biography-Presidents and Heads of State
Copyright:
Edition Description:
Hardcover
Series:
Eminent Lives
Publication Date:
20050531
Binding:
Hardback
Grade Level:
General/trade
Language:
English
Pages:
208
Dimensions:
7.38x5.32x.81 in. .64 lbs.

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Related Subjects

Biography » Historical
Biography » Presidents and Heads of State
History and Social Science » Americana » General
History and Social Science » US History » 19th Century
History and Social Science » US History » Presidents » Jefferson, Thomas

Thomas Jefferson: Author of America New Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$21.99 In Stock
Product details 208 pages AtlasBooks - English 9780060598969 Reviews:
"Publishers Weekly Review" by , "In this brief yet dense biography, the newest in HarperCollins's Eminent Lives series, Hitchens (A Long Short War, etc.) proposes that Jefferson 'designed America' when he wrote the Declaration of Independence, establishing 'the concept of human rights, for the first time in history, as the basis for a republic.' Hitchens is quick to point out, however, the obvious contradiction-that Jefferson was both an advocate for freedom and a slaveholder. Beginning with his aristocratic upbringing, which Jefferson purportedly viewed with 'indifference,' this biography explores both the private and public aspects of Jefferson's life, from his political philosophies to his affair with his slave Sally Hemings. In an attempt to set the facts straight about Hemings, Hitchens explains that, while technically a slave, she was actually related to Jefferson's wife and was treated 'more like a privileged housemaid.' Presenting countless excerpts from Jefferson's writings, Hitchens closely analyzes the President's words to reveal the Enlightenment ideas that shaped American policy, such as the separation of church and state and the prohibition of cruel and unusual punishment. 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 (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"Review" by , "A lucid, gently critical view of the great president and empire-builder and most literate of politicians.... Hitchens's slender study complements several lives of Jefferson while displacing none, and it's well worth reading."
"Review" by , "Hitchens brings a refreshing perspective to the task, both in that he has not written at length about the founding moment and in that he sees Jefferson from the perspective of a Briton, albeit an Americanized one.... To his credit, Hitchens does not gloss over Jefferson's dark side."
"Synopsis" by , This compelling new biography of Jefferson is set amid the historical drama of the new nation's struggle for independence. The author presents a portrait of a formative figure and a turbulent era in history.
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