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Jefferson and Monticello: The Biography of a Builder
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Jefferson and Monticello: The Biography of a Builder

3.88  ·  Rating Details ·  181 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
This book, a National Book Award nominee in 1988, is the life of Thomas Jefferson as seen through the prism of his love affair with Monticello. For over half a century, it was his consuming passion, his most serious amusement. With a sure command of sources and skilled intuitive understanding of Jefferson, McLaughlin crafts and uncommon portrait of builder and building ali ...more
Paperback, 496 pages
Published October 15th 1990 by Holt Paperbacks (first published May 15th 1988)
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Benjamin Thomas
May 10, 2016 Benjamin Thomas rated it it was amazing
I can remember way back when I first visited Monticello. I was 14 years old and an apparently impressionable youth but I remember touring Thomas Jefferson’s house and becoming completely fascinated with all things Jeffersonian. Not only did the house impress my young mind but the stories of how Jefferson slowly built it over decades, incorporating all sorts of cool features that he had learned on his travels to Europe and invented himself was just incredible.

So last month I revisited Monticello
May 17, 2012 Mary rated it really liked it
Fascinating book about the building of Monteicello. As a person interested in architecture, I really enjoyed reading about the construction practices of Jefferson's day. Monteicello was built and rebuilt over most of Jefferson's life.

Jefferson had difficulity obtaining skilled laborers for many of the things he needed done with his house. Brick making was time consuming and he needed lots of bricks for his house. He had some of his slaves learn to make bricks. He needed skilled craftsmen to lay
Dec 12, 2016 Garp83 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Review of: Jefferson and Monticello: The Biography of a Builder, by Jack McLaughlin
by Stan Prager (4-24-16)

It was my great good fortune to happen upon a copy of Jefferson and Monticello: The Biography of a Builder, by Jack McLaughlin, at a used book store some months prior to my scheduled “Behind the Scenes” tour of Monticello. I had read about half of the book by the day of the tour, and when I mentioned it to the outstanding docent who led us through the unique architecture of Jefferson’s lif
Anastasia Hobbet
Aug 22, 2011 Anastasia Hobbet rated it really liked it
Shelves: biography
A wholly different way of looking at Jefferson, through the lens of Monticello, and his obsessive building and rebuilding of the house. Jefferson's public life is scrupulously avoided, mentioned only when it bears directly on his (always desperate) cash situation or his changing taste. His 8 years in the White House is mentioned only because it almost bankrupted him; and his long stay in France is mentioned only because it refined his architectural esthetics. True, all that's been covered endles ...more
Joshua Gates
Oct 03, 2013 Joshua Gates rated it really liked it
Monticello, the accumulation of one man's dream and irregular work habits, Thomas Jefferson, enshrined in history as a father of the Declaration of Independence. Among his many jobs, he was an admired architect, tho not by profession. His skills came from years of study and a couple of diplomatic visits to France for inspiration. With the help of slave labor and hired professionals from Europe and parts of America, Monticello was finally completed after fifty years of interruptions and alteratio ...more
Jun 19, 2011 Kelly rated it really liked it
I want to admire Jefferson, I really do: the Declaration of Independence, the Louisiana Purchase, the University of Virginia, his love and pursuit of science, his devotion to family, and...Monticello. But as this thoroughly researched and intriguingly written biography highlights, Monticello was built using a tremendous quantity of slave labor. Slaves made the brick, sawed the lumber, dug the foundations, and terraced the gardens at Monticello. Despite Jefferson's careful attention to recording ...more
May 11, 2014 Jill rated it it was amazing
A fascinating account of Jefferson's trials and tribulations through the many years of his constructing, tearing down, and reconstructing his home, Monticello. I was absorbed by all the details of his efforts to achieve perfection, architecturally, while, at the same time, creating a home for his wife (who sadly died long before it was even close to completion) and children, not to mention the myriad guests who crossed the threshold of his perpetual work in progress. I learned a great deal about ...more
Jul 25, 2012 Jodi rated it really liked it
After visiting Monticello last summer, I picked this book to get an idea of the history of the home, and the complex man who built it. I had been disturbed by the hypocrisy of slave owner/champion of liberty President Jefferson for years, but have come to a better understanding of the man over time. This book provided so much insight into Jefferson's personality, and life history. Parts of it were slow reading, such as when the author went into great detail about the workmen, and how Jefferson k ...more
Interesting biography of Jefferson, written mainly as a tribute to his skills and love of architecture and the construction of Monticello. Don't look for vignettes from his Presidency or assume they'll be much in here on the authorship of the Declaration of Independence or time in Paris. Obviously much of Jefferson's life did take place at Monticello so there is some important content this book covers, but it does bog down at times with mundane architectural notes. All in all, not the best Presi ...more
Feb 27, 2013 Rachel rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Besides the less-than-HD audiobook recording (to say the least), I expected to hear more about the art and architecture of the house. At least now I don't have to read another separate biography about TJ -- although this one included the most info about his wife that I've ever heard/read just about anywhere.
May 23, 2012 Sue rated it it was ok

I loved visiting Monticello, but not this book. It seemed the author was compelled to include every detail of his obviously exhaustive research, and the flow and pace suffered. Made it only halfway through. Brings up a Goodreads dilemma: is it fair to mark it as "Read"?
On the other hand, there was a lot of fascinating info on life in that period.
Tim Cim
Jul 23, 2008 Tim Cim rated it did not like it
A classic publish or perish book that put me to sleep. Far too in depth with the details. i.e. - I don't care how much he spent on bricks from each brick maker and how much time each guy took to lay the bricks. Honestly - I made it half way through but just couldn't finish it.
Jul 09, 2013 Kerry rated it liked it
I read this in preparation of going to Monticello in July. Very interesting and I think I got a lot more out of Monticello because I ready it. BUT, if you're not going to Monticello any time soon, it's not exactly a "page turner."
Cynthia Bower
Jan 23, 2016 Cynthia Bower rated it liked it
This book is very interesting to me. The records that were kept about the running of Monticello, the guests there and the making of bricks and nails is all intriguing. We get further into the mind of Jefferson and how his thinking matured.
Yvonne Carter
Jan 24, 2013 Yvonne Carter rated it really liked it
Seeing Jefferson architect and builder, what he was doing with Monticello instead of seeing his political life
Jun 30, 2007 Chip rated it really liked it
Shelves: 4starfavorites
A really great profile of the man and the madness that it took to create such an architectural landmark. It doesn't glorify the crazy old bugger, makes him seem human.
Sep 03, 2009 Ann rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
For history buffs -- follow along as Jefferson builds and rebuilds and remodels Monticello over the course of his adult life. Includes lots of detail about daily life at Monticello and TJ's habits.
Oct 13, 2014 Jason rated it liked it
Shelves: history, biography
Good biography and account of Thomas Jefferson as builder of Monticello, though a bit too Freudian in places.
Gary W. Price
Gary W. Price rated it it was amazing
Apr 12, 2016
Joanne Hinkle
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Siobhán rated it it was amazing
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