Jim's Reviews > American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson

American Sphinx by Joseph J. Ellis
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's review
Mar 03, 11

Read in March, 2011

Good review of Thomas Jefferson's character. Not a chronological look at Jefferson's life. Rather the author looks at various times in Jefferson's life and the incidents that occurred during them, to elucidate his political and world view.

This book contains a fair amount of what some deride as historic-psychobabble - the tendency to try and psychoanalyze historic figures to find the origins of their greatness or perfidy (depending on your point of view). In this case, while it does at times feel like the author is attempting to use it to justify examples of Jefferson's blatant hypocrsy (slavery, debt, constitutional interpretation), in this case his arguments are backed up by logical interpretation of the evidence he uses. Not saying I agree with all of it, but it is a worthy attempt.

Definitely worth reading for anyone with an interest in Thomas Jefferson.
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