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Jefferson the Virginian (Jefferson and His Time #1)

3.93  ·  Rating Details ·  846 Ratings  ·  44 Reviews
The first of five volumes in a full-length biography of Jefferson.
Hardcover, 484 pages
Published January 30th 1948 by Little, Brown and Company (first published January 1st 1948)
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Dianne Oliver
Dec 31, 2012 Dianne Oliver rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
Rather comprehensive. I cannot imagine that this is one of six volumes as it covers his early life all the way through the age of 41. Dumas makes no apologies for the life of this great statesman, philosopher, musician, scientist. He is sympathetic in ALL areas, which lies in contrast to other volumes I have read, and while somewhat refreshing, can be annoying as well. His writing is so interesting it made for a pleasant read. I learned new things pretty consistently throughout and one cannot he ...more
May 06, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it

“Jefferson & His Time: Jefferson the Virginian” is the first of six volumes in Dumas Malone’s epic biography of Thomas Jefferson, for which he won a Pulitzer Prize. Malone wrote the biography between 1948 and 1981 and by the time it was completed, was nearly blind. He was the oldest man ever awarded a Pulitzer when he received it in 1975 at age 83 (before the landmark work had even seen its last volume), and was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedo
Roxanne Russell
Sep 27, 2014 Roxanne Russell rated it liked it
Shelves: pulitzer-history
This is the first of six volumes by Dumas Malone in the Jefferson and His Time series- winner of the 1975 Pulitzer Prize for History.

It is one thing to have known in the abstract that the American Revolution and the creation of our constitution was an exceptional event in history, but quite another to envision the man, immersed in philosophical study, informed by the realities of his age, drafting the first statute on freedom of religion for the state of Virginia. And to hear his sentiments of
Henry Sturcke
Dec 24, 2014 Henry Sturcke rated it really liked it
Detailed, sympathetic, and surprisingly readable.
Malone doesn't shy away from Jefferson's ambivalent attitudes toward slavery, but the net impression is that he was about as enlightened as one could expect a person of his station and time to be. In other areas, Jefferson is presented as, next to Franklin, the leading Enlightenment figure in the British colonies. One reason I was glad to read this was for the detailed investigation of Jefferson's conduct as governor of Virginia toward the close o
Andrea Huehnerhoff
Jul 10, 2013 Andrea Huehnerhoff rated it really liked it
interesting, not as full of stories and anecdotes as I like but thoroughly factual and informative.
This first volume of Malone's 6-volume-biography of Jefferson covers quite a long time of Jefferson's life. It starts out on genialogy of the Jefferson family, then comes to Jefferson's childhood and education. After a short visit on Jefferson working as a lawyer the book turns to the political mind of the man, covering his political views widely but ostensively. This leads to a very interesting chapter on how Jefferson was involved not only in dravting the Declaration of Independence but also i ...more
Jan 20, 2017 Barbara rated it did not like it
Shelves: abandoned
I bought this at Monticello when I visited in either 1973 or 1982. Have moved it from home to home and it finally got pulled from the Shelf of Unread Books. But I couldn't finish it. It may be award-winning and well-respected, but it's also dry, dated, and full of assumptions that can't be supported. "He may have thought this... or felt that... or walked down this street." All may be true but it doesn't support including all the might-have-beens in a biography. Write a novel, for crying out loud ...more
Paul Haspel
Feb 18, 2013 Paul Haspel rated it it was amazing
Jefferson would have liked this biography, I think. Dumas Malone, who spent much of his career at the University of Virginia, composed his six-volume biography of Thomas Jefferson very much in the spirit of one Virginia gentleman paying homage to another. All six volumes of Jefferson and His Time (the formal title for the entire biography) are characterized by an elevated and elegant writing style, exhaustive research, and a strongly sympathetic attitude toward his subject -- "the biographer's t ...more
Aaron Million
This is the first of six volumes written by Malone, which took him approximately forty years to do. This volume covers Jefferson from his birth in 1743 up to the time that he sailed for Paris in 1784 as he had been appointed to be one of the American Ministers to negotiate a peace treaty with Britain and with France. This volume is aptly titled as almost all of it concerns Jefferson's service to his own state of Virginia.

Malone begins by talking about Jefferson's genealogy, specifically his fath
Josh Barnathan
Jan 10, 2017 Josh Barnathan rated it liked it
This is mostly a good book.

As a chronicle of Jefferson's early (first 41 years) life, it is pretty spectacular. However, it is detailed to the point of boredom much of the time: Malone gives you what seems like a day to day account of Jefferson's life, rather than an overview as many other biographies typically do. Whether this is a positive or not depends on what level of reading you are looking for, but this book is not an easy read (compared to, say, McCullough's book on John Adams).
Aug 11, 2016 Beverly rated it liked it
This is the first of Dumas Malone's six volume set on Jefferson, the first five volumes having won the Pulitzer Prize. Honestly I think it will take me six months or more to get through these volumes if they all read like this first one (I kept having to put it aside and read a book of fiction to rest my weary mind). The book is well researched and written very prosaically, but it is a dry and tedious read in most places. Malone was a university history teacher and this thing often reads like a ...more
Jul 27, 2011 Nathan rated it it was ok
"Hopeful disappointment" is perhaps the best phrase to sum up my feeling towards the first volume of Malone's Jefferson. The series by it's very length implies a thoroughness and comprehensiveness that is made evident from the beginning. Beginning by situating Jefferson in his patrician family line, continuing through his liberal education and devoting much of the body to Jefferson's political and intellectual life, Malone's characterization is not so different from the many others that portray ...more
Todd Martin
Mar 19, 2012 Todd Martin rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Thomas Jefferson and His Time, Volume I: The Virginian covers the first 41 years of Jefferson's life from gentleman farmer, to legal scholar, to writer of the Declaration of Independence, and Governor of Virginia. The information is meticulously researched (Dumas taught history at Yale and Harvard) and has been deemed somewhat of a classic of history since it's first publication in 1948.

The book provides an excellent accounting of Jefferson's achievements, but still leaves one wondering what th
Oct 25, 2012 Manny rated it really liked it
Volume 1 of 6. An astounding feat by any standard. This book is an exceptional history of Thomas Jefferson. The level of detail regarding Jefferson's family and early life is better than anything I have read to date. By no means do I have an exhaustive list of works on Jefferson so that comment can be taken at face value.

The book attempts to explain the many facets Jefferson's life as an architect, naturalist, jurist, political theorist, governor, philosopher, inventor, the list goes on and on.
James Violand
Jan 10, 2014 James Violand rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Any American.
Shelves: own
This review applies to the entire series, Jefferson and His Times.
Anyone who wants to understand a fraction of Jefferson, needs to start here. This work is the source that most academicians use. It is thorough and depends upon Jefferson's correspondence, editorials, reports, day books, conversations and memories. What more could you ever need? Heavily footnoted, this series puts to shame all other works on this great American. Some popular authors have written of Jefferson suggesting what he may
Michael Vincent
An excellent work concerning the early years of Jefferson in Virginia. I read most of this in preparation for my trip to Virginia, including Monticello and Williamsburg. Reviewing this book helped me appreciate many of the historical sites we saw throughout the state. It also helps you understand more of Jefferson's thinking about slavery and freedom. Malone gives enough detail to be interesting, but not so much that you get bogged down. Dumas Malone was mentioned on our tour of Monticello (I th ...more
Aug 06, 2011 Monique rated it liked it
Overall, Jefferson the Virginian was an enjoyable read. The first volume in the series Jefferson and His Time traces Jefferson from his childhood to the start of his voyage to France for his role as minister plenipotentiary to France. At times, I felt that Malone was a bit too fawning over Jefferson, that Malone needed to come up with an excuse whenever he discussed anything that would cast Jefferson in a negative light. For example, Malone glosses over the British raid of Monticello. Despite so ...more
Buddy Don
Sep 15, 2015 Buddy Don rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, biography
I will evaluate this boigraphy which consists of an additional five volumes after this one, once I finish the whole. If on wishes to know much about Thomas Jefferson, one must read this biography, though it's a hagiography and hard to read in some places (given how blind the author is to the fact thaty his subject owns over 200 human beings and can't possibly therefore hate all forms of tyranny!).
Jun 14, 2016 Guera25 rated it really liked it
Critiquing history book is a hard business because much of one's reaction hinges on their interest in, and affinity for, the subject matter. I'm fascinated by Jefferson and his political ideology, and so I found this an engaging read. It's not light reading, and more than once, it tilts toward an apologia of Jefferson's more dubious decisions, but it's worthwhile for those interested in Revolutionary politics, humanistic theory, and the inner workings of a fierce proponent of liberty.
John Nelson
Sep 27, 2014 John Nelson rated it really liked it
Vol. I of Malone's six-volume biography of Jefferson. This book carries Jefferson from birth up to his appointment as American minister to France. Jefferson led an extraordinary, and extraordinarily varied, life. As a result, the material is inherently interesting. However, Malone tacks a little to much toward hagiography rather than true biography for this to be a truly outstanding book.
Justin Miller
Jun 09, 2009 Justin Miller rated it it was amazing
Volume one of six, this just barely gets to the end of the Revolution, but Jefferson had already completed two of his three most proud achievements: the Declaration of Independence and religious freedom in Virginia. One of the more dense reads of my life, Jefferson is a juggernaut of wisdom and a real hero of mine.
Oct 06, 2011 Scott rated it liked it
A very thorough, though obviously old-fashioned, biography of the early years of Thomas Jefferson. As it is just the first volume of a 6 volume set, it is obviously encyclopedic in nature. Also, because it was written when it was, it glosses over certain issues that we might find more fascinating today, such as Jefferson's difficult relationship with slavery.
Gerald Curtis
Dec 08, 2011 Gerald Curtis rated it liked it
If you are interested in how Thomas Jefferson became what he needed to be to write the Declaration of Independence, this is a great book, explaining the times and society in which he grew up and obtained the unusual education, values and beliefs that dominate the Declaration. That is why I read it and I got more than I hoped for.
Tom Rowe
Dumas Malone is in love with Thomas Jefferson. Everything Jefferson does is so positive. One review I saw called him Jefferson's "hagiographer." However, if you get through the fawning, this book does offer an interesting and in depth look at Jefferson. I look forward to the rest of the series. I look forward to the rest of the series.
May 15, 2014 Paul rated it it was amazing
The 1st volume in Dumas Malone's outstanding multi-volume biography of Thomas Jefferson. Considered the definitive biography of the 3d President, 1st Secretary of State, Ambassador to France, & Governor of Virginia.
Mel Travis
Apr 29, 2014 Mel Travis rated it really liked it
I listened to this book and I really enjoyed it. Jefferson was a remarkable man and Malone seems to really show him in a favorable light. His book made me want to continue on with the series and also check out Jon Meacham's latest book on TJ.
Sep 19, 2011 Ron rated it liked it
Shelves: history, biography
A book from a different time. Published in 1948, this first of a projected multi-volume work gives Jefferson a bye on many of the controversy's which have since embroiled his life. Perhaps it's good the balance the current, tabloid gossip with a solid biography.
Sandy Runions
Heavy. I appreciate the connection to written documents with sound conclusions based on those documents. Jefferson was not an easy man to know. His intelligence, his education, his work ethic, his enlightened philosophy, all these and more, created a very complex man.
Jan 04, 2009 Sebastien rated it it was ok
Pretty dry and the narrative isn't all that well-done in my opinion. Plus the writing feels dated...

I'll probably try reading the next volume one of these days just to see if things get more interesting.
Omar Masood
Jan 01, 2010 Omar Masood rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
Dry but informative. This is the first volume of Malone's six volume biography of Jefferson. Needless to say, it provides a wealth of information on Jefferson. If you are a student of Jefferson this is a must read.
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Dumas Malone, 1892–1986, spent thirty-eight years researching and writing Jefferson and His Time. In 1975 he received the Pulitzer Prize in history for the first five volumes. From 1923 to 1929 he taught at the University of Virginia; he left there to join the Dictionary of American Biography, bringing that work to completion as editor-in-chief. Subsequently, he served for seven years as director ...more
More about Dumas Malone...

Other Books in the Series

Jefferson and His Time (6 books)
  • Jefferson and the Rights of Man
  • Jefferson and the Ordeal of Liberty
  • Jefferson the President: First Term, 1801-1805
  • Jefferson the President: Second Term, 1805-1809
  • The Sage of Monticello

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