Pulitzer Prize-winning historian Annette Gordon-Reed teams up with the country's leading Jefferson scholar, Peter S. Onuf, to present an absorbing and revealing character study that finally clarifies the philosophy of Thomas Jefferson. Tracing Jefferson's development and maturation from his youth to his old age, the authors explore what they call the "empire" of Jefferson's imagination--his expansive state of mind born of the intellectual influences and life experiences that led him into public life as a modern avatar of the enlightenment, who often likened himself to an ancient figure--"the most blessed of the patriarchs."
Jefferson was a man so riven with contradictions that he is almost impossible to know. Gordon-Reed and Onuf dispel the many cliches that have accrued over the years, and trace his philosophical development from youth to old age. In doing so, they challenge much of what we have come to accept about Jefferson, and reintroduce us to a man more gifted than most, but complicated in just the ways we all are.
Introduction: north and south -- Part I. Patriarch -- Home -- Plantation -- Virginia -- Part II. Traveller -- France -- Looking homeward -- Politics -- Part III. Enthusiast -- Music -- Visitors -- Privacy and prayers -- Epilogue
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