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

American Sphinx by Joseph J. Ellis
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's review
Jan 27, 2009

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bookshelves: biography, history, u-s-history, non-fiction

Not a typical biography. Ellis focuses on key points of Jefferson's life, such as the writing of the Declaration, his efforts as Vice President to undermine the Federalists, his work to establish the University of Virginia, and his retirement.[return][return]Ellis notes that Jefferson is both one of the most celebrated of the Founders, and one of the most enigmatic. Ellis asserts that this is due to the fundamental inconsistencies (or hypocrisies, for the less charitable) of Jefferson's ideology, and what some might call his extreme naivety. Ellis validates his case with those episodes of Jefferson's life. This isn't, however, some philippic against Jefferson; Ellis recognizes Jefferson's great contributions, but is interested in exploring Jefferson's humanity.

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