Brett Williams's Reviews > Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

Thomas Jefferson by Jon Meacham
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it was amazing

Not a fashionable biography.

With the spirit of Enlightenment that was so much the fiber of Jefferson, Meacham has little use for political correctness in his approach. Jefferson is reported, analyzed, and speculated on with the intent of understanding him and his times. Besides the almost certain failure of this American republic over the first 40 years and the everyday counter-actions to that, what rang loudest were the lessons Jefferson provides for today, right now. “The perfect warred with the good,” writes Meacham, “…between the ideal and the real, between noble goals and inevitable compromises.” (Today’s representatives and talkers could learn a lesson from someone they claim to idolize.) The philosopher, naturalist, scientist, historian, and slave owner, was also an extrovert who loved face-to-face conversation (remember that?). A master statesman able to get done what he knew was right, while letting his opposition feel satisfied and often eventually in agreement. Though he wasn’t always successful, as he attempted with moderate commitment to abolish slavery multiple times, including written into his original Declaration (removed in debate).

Everyone who reads this life will be sorry to see it end again - after eight days of struggle to remain alive until the 50th anniversary of Independence, dying on the same day as his friend John Adams, July 4, 1826. Each will also see a part of themselves in Jefferson – the child-like (not childish) curiosity, the hopes, dreams, passions we all had, that Jefferson was able to animate to the last days as he surveyed the Bible (of which he was suspicious) and gave instructions for Monticello management.
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Reading Progress

July 19, 2014 – Started Reading
July 19, 2014 – Shelved
August 6, 2014 – Finished Reading

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