Flight from Monticello

Flight from Monticello : Thomas Jefferson at War

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Description

When Thomas Jefferson wrote his epitaph, he listed as his accomplishments his authorship of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia statute of religious freedom, and his founding of the University of Virginia. He did not mention his presidency or that he was second governor of the state of Virginia, in the most trying hours of the Revolution. Dumas Malone, author of the epic six-volume biography, wrote that the events of this time explain Jefferson's "character as a man of action in a serious emergency." Joseph Ellis, author of American Sphinx, focuses on other parts of Jefferson's life but wrote that his actions as governor "toughened him on the inside." It is this period, when Jefferson was literally tested under fire, that Michael Kranish illuminates in Flight from Monticello. Filled with vivid, precisely observed scenes, this book is a sweeping narrative of clashing armies--of spies, intrigue, desperate moments, and harrowing battles. The story opens with the first murmurs of resistance to Britain, as the colonies struggled under an onerous tax burden and colonial leaders--including Jefferson--fomented opposition to British rule. Kranish captures the tumultuous outbreak of war, the local politics behind Jefferson's actions in the Continental Congress (and his famous Declaration), and his rise to the governorship. Jefferson's life-long belief in the corrupting influence of a powerful executive led him to advocate for a weak governorship, one that lacked the necessary powers to raise an army. Thus, Virginia was woefully unprepared for the invading British troops who sailed up the James under the direction of a recently turned Benedict Arnold. Facing rag-tag resistance, the British force took the colony with very little trouble. The legislature fled the capital, and Jefferson himself narrowly eluded capture twice. Kranish describes Jefferson's many stumbles as he struggled to respond to the invasion, and along the way, the author paints an intimate portrait of Jefferson, illuminating his quiet conversations, his family turmoil, and his private hours at Monticello. "Jefferson's record was both remarkable and unsatisfactory, filled with contradictions," writes Kranish. As a revolutionary leader who felt he was unqualified to conduct a war, Jefferson never resolved those contradictions--but, as Kranish shows, he did learn lessons during those dark hours that served him all his life.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 388 pages
  • 165.1 x 236.22 x 33.02mm | 725.74g
  • Oxford University Press, USA
  • Oxford, England, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations, maps
  • 0195374622
  • 9780195374629
  • 1,644,560

Review quote

"No great figures are now without multiple biographies, so why not slice up their lives into smaller subjects? Since that seems to be the current way, we're lucky to have a serious slice like [Flight From Monticello]... Fluid prose makes the book readable; solid research makes it dependable." --Publishers Weekly "Thomas Jefferson's wartime conduct as governor of Virginia haunted him down the decades, and Michael Kranish has now brought this critical episode in American history to vivid life. Anyone interested in the Revolutionary War, in Jefferson, or in the formation of political character will find Kranish's book both delightful and instructive."--Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Lion "My admiration for Flight from Monticello knows no bounds. Michael Kranish, one of America's best reporters, draws a brilliant portrait of Thomas Jefferson in turmoil. His analysis of Jefferson's strategic blunders is pioneering. Only Dumas Malone equals Kranish in dissecting Jefferson the Virginian. Highly recommended!"--Douglas Brinkley, author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, and The Great Deluge "Michael Kranish has written a vivid and compelling account, with wonderful illustrative and often unfamiliar anecdotes, including descriptions of Benedict Arnold's wearing a British general's uniform and riding along the Duke of Gloucester Street in Williamsburg, and Jefferson's last-minute escape from Banastre Tarleton's troops. Flight from Monticello is an exciting account of a little-known but important chapter of revolutionary history."--Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy, director International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, professor at the University of Virginia, fellow of the Royal Historical Society "Flight From Monticello succeeds superbly well in opening a new window on Thomas Jefferson during the Revolution. In this period of his life, he proved to be an incompetent military leader, poor planner and touchy and defensive Virginian. Kranish's suspenseful narrative illuminates Jefferson's shortcomings, and with great sympathy and skill reveals why this crucial moment of his life forever haunted America's favorite Renaissance Man."--Jonathan Alter, author of The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope "Crisply written and well documented, this book is popular history at its best and will appeal to a wide readership. Highly recommended." -- Library Journal "This is edge-of-your-seat history, meticulously researched and laid out, but written with such high drama and cinematic clarity that even well-known events of America's Revolutionary War are made to seem suspenseful-as if this time their outcomes might be different." -- ForeWord "Students of Jefferson's life will want to read Flight From Monticello." -- Newsweek ..".superb narrative of the high-minded Virginian's turbulent wartime years." -- Wall Street Journal ..".a readable and surprisingly fresh take on Jefferson, the Revolutionary War, and Colonial Virginia...this is solid, entertaining history that debunks some myths while conveying the fog of war." -- Boston Globe ..".provides a fresh look at one of America's most revered historical leaders with an attention to drama that will keep readers trekking through to the very end." -- Roll Call "The story of this seldom-told episode of our early history is dramatically told by Michael Kranish...Even people with broad knowledge of the Revolutionary period will gain from his diligent research, analytical insight and sparkling prose...Flight from Monticello is a worthwhile read." -- Washington Times "A brilliantly narrated account of the British invasion and Jefferson's problematic response to it." --Wilson Quarterlyshow more

About Michael Kranish

Michael Kranish is a reporter in the Washington bureau of The Boston Globe. He is the co-author of the New York Times bestseller John F. Kerry: The Complete Biography, described by Michiko Kakutani as "a fascinating portrait...a harrowing, pictorial narrative."show more

Rating details

176 ratings
3.85 out of 5 stars
5 31% (54)
4 36% (64)
3 24% (42)
2 6% (11)
1 3% (5)
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