Thomas Jefferson and the Revolution of Ideas

Thomas Jefferson and the Revolution of Ideas

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Description

Thomas Jefferson designed his own tombstone, describing himself simply as "Author of the Declaration of Independence and of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia." It is in this simple epitaph that R.B. Bernstein finds the key to this enigmatic Founder--not as a great political figure, but as leader of "a revolution of ideas that would make the world over again." In Thomas Jefferson, Bernstein offers the definitive short biography of this revered American--the first concise life in six decades. Bernstein deftly synthesizes the massive scholarship on his subject into a swift, insightful, evenhanded account. Here are all of Jefferson's triumphs, contradictions, and failings, from his luxurious (and debt-burdened) life as a Virginia gentleman to his passionate belief in democracy, from his tortured defense of slavery to his relationship with Sally Hemings. Jefferson was indeed multifaceted--an architect, inventor, writer, diplomat, propagandist, planter, party leader--and Bernstein explores all these roles even as he illuminates Jefferson's central place in the American enlightenment, that "revolution of ideas" that did so much to create the nation we know today. Together with the less well-remembered points in Jefferson's thinking--the nature of the Union, his vision of who was entitled to citizenship, his dread of debt (both personal and national)--they form the heart of this lively biography. In this marvel of compression and comprehension, we see Jefferson more clearly than in the massive studies of earlier generations. More important, we see, in Jefferson's visionary ideas, the birth of the nation's grand sense of purpose.show more

Product details

  • Hardback | 253 pages
  • 166.9 x 231.9 x 28.2mm | 508.03g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • Illustrations, unspecified
  • 0195169115
  • 9780195169119

Review quote

"The best short biography of Jefferson ever written...highly recommended for those who want a brief and historically reliable account of this incredibly complicated character.... Authoritative, judicious, clearly written and remarkably complete."--Gordon S. Wood, The New York Times Book Review"Bernstein's Jefferson is a brilliant success. There is nothing like it in the literature."--Peter Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History, University of Virginia"Here, in just 200 pages of text, is an eminently readable, insightful and fair account of the life and times of the third president of the United States.... Bernstein's book [is] lucid, fascinating."--Roanoke Times"R. B. Bernstein has produced a fascinating, extremely intelligent examination of the life of Thomas Jefferson. With a clear eye and deft historical touch, Bernstein reminds us why studying Jefferson and his world will always remain central to understanding the development of the American character."--Annette Gordon-Reed, author of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy"Veteran historian Bernstein pulls off a remarkable feat: he writes of Jefferson and his 'ambiguous legacies' with utter serenity, detachment and balance.... In prose of the utmost directness and clarity, Bernstein simply lays out the great founder's life in all its complexities, achievements and, at the end, ruin.... Anyone wanting to brush up on Jefferson's life or gain exposure to the latest findings about it will find this book of huge value. It will be most valuable to those seeking an introduction to Jefferson's life and achievements. There's little doubt that the book will become the standard brief one-volume biography of someone who was 'the leading spokesman for the revolution of ideas that changed...the face of America and the world.'"--Publishers Weekly (starred review)Two-time Pulitzer nominee Bernstein has produced a readable biography of a leading figure of the young American nation. The author is especially adept at placing Jefferson's accomplishments in context without oversimplifying them, which in a book only about 250 pages long and aimed primarily at general readers is an impressive feat....This work is recommended particularly for public libraries and other general collections. -- Library Journal"Bernstein has brought as much clarity to a famously elusive subject as anyone can, and he's done it all at concise, readable length."--Christian Science Monitor"However crowded the TJ shelf, libraries should allow room for Bernstein's compact, competent contribution. -- Gilbert Taylor, Booklist"It is difficult to be objective about Thomas Jefferson, but this book succeeds wonderfully. Neither attacking Jefferson for his sins nor lauding him for his accomplishments, Thomas Jefferson does equal justice to Jefferson's political, intellectual, and personal life in a concise biography that can be enjoyed by all. Bernstein has given us an admirably balanced life in context."--Joanne B. Freeman, Professor of History, Yale University "The best short biography of Jefferson ever written...highly recommended for those who want a brief and historically reliable account of this incredibly complicated character.... Authoritative, judicious, clearly written and remarkably complete."--Gordon S. Wood, The New York Times Book Review "Bernstein's Jefferson is a brilliant success. There is nothing like it in the literature."--Peter Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History, University of Virginia "Here, in just 200 pages of text, is an eminently readable, insightful and fair account of the life and times of the third president of the United States.... Bernstein's book [is] lucid, fascinating."--Roanoke Times "R. B. Bernstein has produced a fascinating, extremely intelligent examination of the life of Thomas Jefferson. With a clear eye and deft historical touch, Bernstein reminds us why studying Jefferson and his world will always remain central to understanding the development of the American character."--Annette Gordon-Reed, author of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy "Veteran historian Bernstein pulls off a remarkable feat: he writes of Jefferson and his 'ambiguous legacies' with utter serenity, detachment and balance.... In prose of the utmost directness and clarity, Bernstein simply lays out the great founder's life in all its complexities, achievements and, at the end, ruin.... Anyone wanting to brush up on Jefferson's life or gain exposure to the latest findings about it will find this book of huge value. It will be most valuable to those seeking an introduction to Jefferson's life and achievements. There's little doubt that the book will become the standardbrief one-volume biography of someone who was 'the leading spokesman for the revolution of ideas that changed...the face of America and the world.'"--Publishers Weekly (starred review) Two-time Pulitzer nominee Bernstein has produced a readable biography of a leading figure of the young American nation. The author is especially adept at placing Jefferson's accomplishments in context without oversimplifying them, which in a book only about 250 pages long and aimed primarily at general readers is an impressive feat....This work is recommended particularly for public libraries and other general collections. -- Library Journal "Bernstein has brought as much clarity to a famously elusive subject as anyone can, and he's done it all at concise, readable length."--Christian Science Monitor "However crowded the TJ shelf, libraries should allow room for Bernstein's compact, competent contribution. -- Gilbert Taylor, Booklist "It is difficult to be objective about Thomas Jefferson, but this book succeeds wonderfully. Neither attacking Jefferson for his sins nor lauding him for his accomplishments, Thomas Jefferson does equal justice to Jefferson's political, intellectual, and personal life in a concise biography that can be enjoyed by all. Bernstein has given us an admirably balanced life in context."--Joanne B. Freeman, Professor of History, Yale University "The best short biography of Jefferson ever written...highly recommended for those who want a brief and historically reliable account of this incredibly complicated character.... Authoritative, judicious, clearly written and remarkably complete."--Gordon S. Wood, The New York Times Book Review "Bernstein's Jefferson is a brilliant success. There is nothing like it in the literature."--Peter Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History, University of Virginia "Here, in just 200 pages of text, is an eminently readable, insightful and fair account of the life and times of the third president of the United States.... Bernstein's book [is] lucid, fascinating."--Roanoke Times "R. B. Bernstein has produced a fascinating, extremely intelligent examination of the life of Thomas Jefferson. With a clear eye and deft historical touch, Bernstein reminds us why studying Jefferson and his world will always remain central to understanding the development of the American character."--Annette Gordon-Reed, author of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy "Veteran historian Bernstein pulls off a remarkable feat: he writes of Jefferson and his 'ambiguous legacies' with utter serenity, detachment and balance.... In prose of the utmost directness and clarity, Bernstein simply lays out the great founder's life in all its complexities, achievements and, at the end, ruin.... Anyone wanting to brush up on Jefferson's life or gain exposure to the latest findings about it will find this book of huge value. It will be most valuable to those seeking an introduction to Jefferson's life and achievements. There's little doubtthat the book will become the standard brief one-volume biography of someone who was 'the leading spokesman for the revolution of ideas that changed...the face of America and the world.'"--Publishers Weekly (starred review) Two-time Pulitzer nominee Bernstein has produced a readable biography of a leading figure of the young American nation. The author is especially adept at placing Jefferson's accomplishments in context without oversimplifying them, which in a book only about 250 pages long and aimed primarily at general readers is an impressive feat....This work is recommended particularly for public libraries and other general collections. -- Library Journal "Bernstein has brought as much clarity to a famously elusive subject as anyone can, and he's done it all at concise, readable length."--Christian Science Monitor "However crowded the TJ shelf, libraries should allow room for Bernstein's compact, competent contribution. -- Gilbert Taylor, Booklist "It is difficult to be objective about Thomas Jefferson, but this book succeeds wonderfully. Neither attacking Jefferson for his sins nor lauding him for his accomplishments, Thomas Jefferson does equal justice to Jefferson's political, intellectual, and personal life in a concise biography that can be enjoyed by all. Bernstein has given us an admirably balanced life in context."--Joanne B. Freeman, Professor of History, Yale University "The best short biography of Jefferson ever written...highly recommended for those who want a brief and historically reliable account of this incredibly complicated character.... Authoritative, judicious, clearly written and remarkably complete."--Gordon S. Wood, The New York Times Book Review"Bernstein's Jefferson is a brilliant success. There is nothing like it in the literature."--Peter Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History, University of Virginia"Here, in just 200 pages of text, is an eminently readable, insightful and fair account of the life and times of the third president of the United States.... Bernstein's book [is] lucid, fascinating."--Roanoke Times"R. B. Bernstein has produced a fascinating, extremely intelligent examination of the life of Thomas Jefferson. With a clear eye and deft historical touch, Bernstein reminds us why studying Jefferson and his world will always remain central to understanding the development of the Americancharacter."--Annette Gordon-Reed, author of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy"Veteran historian Bernstein pulls off a remarkable feat: he writes of Jefferson and his 'ambiguous legacies' with utter serenity, detachment and balance.... In prose of the utmost directness and clarity, Bernstein simply lays out the great founder's life in all its complexities, achievements and, at the end, ruin.... Anyone wanting to brush up on Jefferson's life or gain exposure to the latest findings about it will find this book of huge value. It will be most valuable to those seeking an introduction to Jefferson's life and achievements. There's little doubt that the book will become thestandardbrief one-volume biography of someone who was 'the leading spokesman for the revolution of ideas that changed...the face of America and the world.'"--Publishers Weekly (starred review)Two-time Pulitzer nominee Bernstein has produced a readable biography of a leading figure of the young American nation. The author is especially adept at placing Jefferson's accomplishments in context without oversimplifying them, which in a book only about 250 pages long and aimed primarily atgeneral readers is an impressive feat....This work is recommended particularly for public libraries and other general collections. -- Library Journal"Bernstein has brought as much clarity to a famously elusive subject as anyone can, and he's done it all at concise, readable length."--Christian Science Monitor"However crowded the TJ shelf, libraries should allow room for Bernstein's compact, competent contribution. -- Gilbert Taylor, Booklist"It is difficult to be objective about Thomas Jefferson, but this book succeeds wonderfully. Neither attacking Jefferson for his sins nor lauding him for his accomplishments, Thomas Jefferson does equal justice to Jefferson's political, intellectual, and personal life in a concise biography that canbe enjoyed by all. Bernstein has given us an admirably balanced life in context."--Joanne B. Freeman, Professor of History, Yale Universityshow more

About Bernstein

R. B. Bernstein is Adjunct Professor of Law at the New York Law School and director of online operations at Heights Books, Inc. The author or editor of eighteen books on American constitutional history, including Are We to Be a Nation? and Amending America (both nominees for the Pulitzer, Bancroft, and Parkman Prizes), he lives in Brooklyn, New York.show more

Rating details

3,711 ratings
3.98 out of 5 stars
5 34% (1,269)
4 38% (1,393)
3 22% (822)
2 4% (163)
1 2% (64)
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