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Understanding Thomas Jefferson
Recent biographies of Thomas Jefferson have stressed the sphinxlike puzzles of his character—famous champion of freedom yet lifelong slaveholder, foe of miscegenation yet secret lover of a beautiful slave for 30 years, aristocrat yet fervent advocate of government by the people. E. M. Halliday's absorbing and lucid portrait recognizes these and other puzzles about this gre ...more
ebook, 304 pages
Published October 13th 2009 by HarperCollins e-books
(first published 2001)
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Nov 11, 2015 Thebruce1314 rated it really liked it · review of another edition
While I enjoyed the philosophical discussion over whether or not Jefferson was as forward-thinking as historians have portrayed him, I found this book to be a little annoying. The final chapter talked about the value of historical fiction - in particular, how Jefferson has been portrayed in that genre - and the use of artistic license to fill in the unknown details. But the entire first half of Halliday's book itself is filled with conjecture, mainly over Jefferson's amorous forays, on which the ...more
Inspired to buy and read this after visiting Montecello. I love that this book delves into his personal life and travels outside of his Presidency. Appropriate since public life, for him, seemed to be contrary to real life and how he preferred to live. Great book.
An unconventional biography of Jefferson that uses particular stories and writings to illuminate Jefferson's character. It skips a lot of the Virginian's biography in favor of trying to get inside Jefferson's mind. A very different kind of biography, and very opinionated -- Halliday uses a lot of conjecture about what Jefferson could have been thinking when he did certain things, and lingers a lot on Jefferson's sexuality and relationship with Sally Hemmings. If you're looking for an exhaustive ...more
Aug 22, 2008 Amanda J rated it really liked it · review of another edition
A quick-paced biography of Thomas Jefferson. Easy to read, which makes it enjoyable. Critics argue that this book focuses too much on pyschosexual analysis, and while the author does explore Jefferson's relationship with Sally Hemmings to a greater degree than he examines other areas of his life, I still think this is a good introduction into Jefferson's life.
Apr 12, 2008 Terah rated it it was amazing · review of another edition
I really liked this one. I'm really interested in Thomas Jefferson and the author made things really easy to understand and made you felt like you were right there at his side watching his life unfold.
Can't say that it did much for my understanding. The author seemed to dwell a great deal on past biographies, and where they strayed, even going into recent novels and movies. Not particularly satisfying to me. Jefferson still remains interesting, but am discouraged by such books.
Had good information about Jefferson's plantation life, and personal relationships. Thought Halliday made some leaps in logic, proclaiming Jefferson "must have" thought, did things that he sort of reports as fact but they aren't facts.
Jun 12, 2008 Ed rated it liked it · review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who appreciate life, liberty and/or the pursuit of happiness
Not a biography, not an attempt at a balanced portrait...but interesting nonetheless in exploring the fascinating character of one of America's true geniuses.