Synopses & Reviews
As he did with Presidents Jackson and Grant in those magnificent novels, Max Byrd now reveals Thomas Jefferson as we’ve never seen before. Byrd transports us to 1784, as Jefferson, the newly appointed American ambassador to the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette, arrives in Paris—a city adrift in intrigue, upheaval, and temptation that will challenge his principles, incite his passions, and change him forever.
Through the eyes of his impressionable young secretary, William Short, readers watch as the future president builds his dream of America with fellow patriots John Adams and Ben Franklin, while struggling between political ambition and an unexpected crisis of the heart with a woman who has the power to destroy him. Behind the face this complex Virginian shows the world, Thomas Jefferson is an enigmatic statesman who fights for individual liberty even as he keeps slaves, who champions free will even as he denies it to his daughters, and who holds men to the highest standards of honor—even as he embarks on a shadowy double life of his own.
“Max Byrd’s historical novels about the third and seventh presidents bring both men alive in ways that only a literary imagination can.”—George F. Will, The Washington Post
“Jefferson has the organic intimacy of a novel that has sprung full-blown from the imagination of its creator.”—The New York Times
“Superb . . . fascinating in the psychological insight it provides to one of the greatest Americans . . . a truly memorable book.”—W. Jackson Bate, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Samuel Johnson and John Keats
“Absolutely splendid historical fiction that resonates with international, provincial, and individual passion and drama.”—Booklist
“A real tour de force.”—San Francisco Chronicle
It is 1784, Thomas Jefferson has just arrived in Paris to represent his fledgling nation in the court of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. Paris is a city adrift in intrigue and social upheaval, swirling scandal and sensual temptation, a city where Jefferson--a man of reason and revolution--will experience a different kind of turbulence.
She is an exquisite blond with violet eyes and a foolish husband, and from the moment Maria Cosway appears, Thomas Jefferson is wholly captivated. Suddenly the least impulsive man in Paris is acting like a schoolboy. To William Short, his young secretary and protégé, this reckless behavior sparks an obsession to discover the real Jefferson.
Impeccably researched, compelling and deeply provocative, Max Byrd's Jefferson offers a rare glimpse behind the secretive face this complex Virginian showed the world. Through William Short's eyes, we peer into the long private and public life of the future president, watching the forces that shape the young Jefferson, as he molds his dream of an American nation with fellow patriots Ben Franklin and John Adams. We see, too, as he struggles to choose between political ambitions and the life of the heart.
In "the best fictionalized life of Jefferson yet" (Jack McLaughlin, National Book Award finalist for "Jefferson and Monticello"), Byrd offers a rare glimpse behind the face this complex Virginian showed the world, dispelling the myths to reveal the passionate and elusive figure whose words and imagination may be said to have invented America. 432 pp. National print ads. 20,000 print.
About the Author
Max Byrd is the acclaimed author of Jefferson, Jackson, Grant, Shooting the Sun, and many other novels. An authority on eighteenth- and nineteenth-century American history, Byrd lives in Davis, California.