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Thomas Jefferson (Childhoods of the Presidents)

Press: Mason Crest Publishers (January 1, 2003)
Publication Date:2003-1
ISBN:9781590842713
Author Name:Ferry, Joseph
Pages:48
Language:English

Content

Focuses on the formative years of one of the key figures in American history, Thomas Jefferson, 3rd president of the US. 
This book details the foundations for Jefferson's many later accomplishments - as an author, inventor, self-taught architect, diplomat, political philosopher, and politician - that were laid during his youth in Virginia.

From Booklist

Jefferson's tarnished reputation receives a slight boost in Appleby's interpretation of his presidency, part of a series about the presidents that includes Robert Remini's excellent John Quincy Adams [BKL Jl 02]. 
Appleby analyzes Jefferson's belief that his election in 1800 was comparable to 1776 in revolutionary import, a task she embarks on through extended comparison with the outlook of the Federalist whom Jefferson and the Republicans ousted.
After the tumults of the 1780s, which in part motivated the formulation of the new Constitution, the Federalists regarded themselves as having rescued America from democratic excess.
More optimistic about human nature, Jefferson was unworried by democracy--for white men, at least--and his presidency has proved enduringly interesting, significant, and contradictory; hence the oscillations of his reputation.
Appleby fluidly unites evidence and argument not just to narrate Jefferson's eight years in office but to persuade readers of the importance of the democratic example he set.
Hers is a fine, expert brief on the controversies surrounding, as Joseph Ellis memorably titled his biography, the American Sphinx.
Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association.
All rights reserved

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"A publishing milestone . 
.
.
Schlesinger, a master craftsman, is imposing his high standards on these books.
Hail to the chief.
It's a wonderful series."

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

About the Author

Joyce Appleby is professor of history at UCLA. 
Specializing in the study of early America, she is the author of Inheriting the Revolution.
She lives in Los Angeles.

Tags

Children's Books,Biographies,U. S. Presidents & First Ladies,Political

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Comment List (Total:14)

  •     Thomas Jefferson is one of my favorite historical figures. Ms. Appleby's portrayal is appropriately honoring. I suppose we have these kind of men wandering around today but they are diminished in stature by the bountiful jealousy of their colleagues. But John Kennedy was not too far off with his comment regarding the "only time there was more intelligence on display in this room was when Thomas Jefferson dined alone."

  •     Excellent information. Good insights into political challenges faced by Jefferson at a crucial time in our history. Relevant to current.

  •     Disappointing book on Jefferson. The author kept pointing out Jefferson's deficiencies to the deterrent of any discussion on the his achievements. There was almost no mention of Lewis & Clark exposition. Nor anything about his experiments at home. And barely a word on his agriculture achievements.

  •     I read all the Biographies of the Presidents by way of the Presidential series. If you are going to do it, read John Hancock first because he was the first Continental Congress...

  •     Good

  •     History professor Joyce Appleby writes an excellent history book, so I give it four stars, the most I give any book on history.

  •     Do you want to know how you can tell when you are reading bad chroniclers of American history? They apply the standards of the times in which they live to the times and people of...

  •     In his biography of Thomas Jefferson, titled "American Sphinx," Joseph Ellis tellingly says at one point (Page xvii): "As I have found him, there really is a core of convictions and apprehensions at his center. Although he was endlessly elusive and extraordinarily adroit at covering his tracks, there were bedrock Jeffersonian values that determined the shape of the political vision he projected so successfully onto his world. . . ."Joyce Appleby, author of this brief volume in The American Presidents series, attempts to capture that elusiveness. As noted many times, this series provides brief, readable, and often (but not always) insightful analyses--but at the cost of depth. For many, that tradeoff is well worth it, and I would rather someone read a brief biography and think a bit about the subject rather than not read anything at all about the subjects. Appleby begins by noting that Jefferson (Page 1) ". . .instilled the nation with his liberal convictions," the two most important, in the author's eyes, being participatory politics and limited government. These were clearly central aspects of Jefferson's political philosophy. However, his enmity toward a hierarchical, ordered society dominated by an elite is undermined by his ambivalent views on, for example, slavery. Jefferson, as a person, is someone who often manifest conflicting elements to his thinking.This book, to its credit, gives credit to Jefferson for his accomplishments, whether as ambassador to France, his role in authoring the Declaration of Independence, his advocacy for the political equality of white males--including those who were not persons of means. The work also juxtaposes those with his ambivalence about slavery (at one point, he fears that the country will have to suffer greatly for the "peculiar institution" and, at another point, he cannot conceive blacks and whites living together in amity and equality) and about gender (he could not conceive women as political equals, although he could treat individual women, such as daughters and Abigail Adams, with considerable respect). The book also straightforwardly addresses the issue of his relationship with one of his slaves, Sally Hemings. It also discusses his somewhat problematic behavior while serving in Washington's Cabinet, as he fought with Alexander Hamilton and authorized nasty newspaper attacks on the Administration.As President, he presided over some great moments--the Louisiana Purchase, the taking seriously of political freedoms, the advocacy of political rights for the less well born, the opening of the West, the exploration of Lewis and Clark, the successful prosecution of the war against the Barbary pirates. On the other side, his cold approach toward native Americans, his failed economic policies directed against the French and British as the United States became a pawn in their struggle for supremacy, his inability to address the slavery issue (although he pushed legislation to end the slave trade at the earliest time possible under the Constitution--introducing yet again his ambivalences).So, this is a useful short biography laying out this elusive character. Appleby meets, I think, the challenge of presenting this complex person in a slender volume. Worth looking at. . . .

  •     Joyce Appleby did a good job with this book.

  •     Hogwash.

  •     This book focusing on Jefferson’s presidency is a combination of historical information and excellent historical analysis. Appleby covers all the contradictions in Jefferson from slavery to his views on women and delves into them in a way that brings insight where other biographies (of Jefferson, Hamilton and others) often just condemn the man. The strongest aspect of the book is stressing and clearly showing how Jefferson began the American tradition of participatory democracy. While the increase in political participation was limited in its scope, it was Jefferson who broke the social barriers that were cultural remnants from the British and changed the face of American politics. Appleby puts the Federalists in a much different light than biographies of leading Federalists themselves do. She is excellent in analyzing how Jefferson spread the idea of democracy for the “common man” and how his work consistently had this project in mind – even with his obvious limitations. Appleby’s sharp critique of Jefferson based on today’s understanding of human beings is right on the nose yet she always brings the reader to an awareness of Jefferson's times and his circumstances. She never justifies his actions yet she lets the reader understand him much better than the common view of him today. The book is well-written and well worth the time to discover the roots of how everyday Americans (or, as Appleby emphasizes, everyday white American males) began to understand that all have a voice in their government, not just the elite.

  •     All of the biographies in the "American Presidents" series are short (150 to 180 pages) so it is understandable that this book is not a complete representation of Thomas Jefferson. However, its brevity was achieved by providing an overly sanitized (distorted) view of Jefferson. The next book in the series, "James Madison" by Garry Wells, devotes a lot of time to Thomas Jefferson (Madison served under Jefferson and they were long-time friends) and in so doing reveals the devious, intriguing side of Jefferson not shown by Appleby. For that reason, I recommend reading both books, or some other more balanced book about Jefferson.

  •     as promised

  •     love the american president series books and will order more in the future it was also received in a timely fashion

 

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