Andy Miller's Reviews > The Hemingses of Monticello

The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed
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Jul 03, 09

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Read in May, 2009

This was a great book. Not necessarily an easy read, but it is so well written and provoking that I almost read it as a novel even though it has the references and research that you would find in a textbook.

I had read the author's earlier book about the relationship before DNA proved her right and had been impressed by the complexity of the relationships and times. Same with this book, In the past it seemed that books I read gave you a choice, believe Jefferson fathered Hemming's children and believe he was a villian or believe he was hero and that him fathering her children was a fiction conceived by his political enemies of his time. Ms Gordon-Reed shows a very human Jefferson who was capable of doing great things but also capable of hypocrisy and insensitivity.

The focus though was on the Hemingses family, not just Sally but her brothers and children(and mother) The story of one brother was on of the saddest things I've read and perhaps one of the most damning indictments of the slavery system at the time, the subtlety of that story perhaps makes it even more compelling.

If you're looking for a well written, well researched book that challenges you to think and doesn't give any easy conclusions or answers, you can't do better than this book
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