Synopses & Reviews
Thomas Jefferson once wrote to a friend that politics was his "duty" but natural history was his "passion." As this book shows, he was always a man for whom nature was important. With Jefferson's devotion to detailed knowledge, precise calculation, and rational inquiry, natural history related to everything he did, as a farmer, as a philosopher, and as a citizen. For all his gifts in philosophy and politics and his fascination with the American West, Jefferson was never more happy than at home at Monticello, riding across the fields and experimenting with new crops. The great wonder is that in addition to his public life he had time to be one of America's first serious students of, among other things, fossils, botany, climate, geology, and anthropology.
"Intrepid in exploring Jefferson's fixed ideas, his willingness to shade the truth, and the hint of monomania in his efforts."
-Times Literary Supplement
"A delightfully written and illustrated book. . . . Adds a good degree of vitality to the arguably dry topic of early American history; it should be especially helpful to teachers of subjects ranging from history to biology. . . . Highly recommended."
"[A] nicely illustrated popular history [that] will appeal to a broad range of historians and enthusiasts."
Despite his demanding public life Thomas Jefferson somehow had time to be one of America's first serious students of fossils, botany, climate, geology, and anthropology, among other things. This volume explores his passion for natural history, highlighting how it related to everything Jefferson did--as a farmer, as a philosopher, and as a citizen.
About the Author
Keith Thomson was a visiting fellow at the Thomas Jefferson Foundation's Robert H. Smith International Center for Jefferson Studies in 2007. He is professor emeritus of natural history at Yale University and senior research fellow of the American Philosophical Society. author of twelve other books on evolution, paleontology, and the history of science, he was previously professor and dean at Yale, president of the Academy of Natural Sciences of Philadelphia, and university scientist-in-residence at the New School for Social Research.
Read an exclusive essay by Keith Thomson