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Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power (2012)

af Jon Meacham

MedlemmerAnmeldelserPopularitetGennemsnitlig vurderingOmtaler
2,510766,083 (3.99)58
Biography & Autobiography. History. Nonfiction. HTML:NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The New York Times Book Review The Washington Post Entertainment Weekly The Seattle Times St. Louis Post-Dispatch Bloomberg Businessweek

In this magnificent biography, the Pulitzer Prizewinning author of American Lion and Franklin and Winston brings vividly to life an extraordinary man and his remarkable times. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power gives us Jefferson the politician and president, a great and complex human being forever engaged in the wars of his era. Philosophers think; politicians maneuver. Jeffersons genius was that he was both and could do both, often simultaneously. Such is the art of power.
 
Thomas Jefferson hated confrontation, and yet his understanding of power and of human nature enabled him to move men and to marshal ideas, to learn from his mistakes, and to prevail. Passionate about many thingswomen, his family, books, science, architecture, gardens, friends, Monticello, and ParisJefferson loved America most, and he strove over and over again, despite fierce opposition, to realize his vision: the creation, survival, and success of popular government in America. Jon Meacham lets us see Jeffersons world as Jefferson himself saw it, and to appreciate how Jefferson found the means to endure and win in the face of rife partisan division, economic uncertainty, and external threat. Drawing on archives in the United States, England, and France, as well as unpublished Jefferson presidential papers, Meacham presents Jefferson as the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American history.
 
The father of the ideal of individual liberty, of the Louisiana Purchase, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and of the settling of the West, Jefferson recognized that the genius of humanityand the genius of the new nationlay in the possibility of progress, of discovering the undiscovered and seeking the unknown. From the writing of the Declaration of Independence to elegant dinners in Paris and in the Presidents House; from political maneuverings in the boardinghouses and legislative halls of Philadelphia and New York to the infant capital on the Potomac; from his complicated life at Monticello, his breathtaking house and plantation in Virginia, to the creation of the University of Virginia, Jefferson was central to the age. Here too is the personal Jefferson, a man of appetite, sensuality, and passion.
 
The Jefferson story resonates today not least because he led his nation through ferocious partisanship and cultural warfare amid economic change and external threats, and also because he embodies an eternal drama, the struggle of the leadership of a nation to achieve greatness in a difficult and confounding world.

Praise for Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
 
This is probably the best single-volume biography of Jefferson ever written.Gordon S. Wood
 
A big, grand, absorbing exploration of not just Jefferson and his role in history but also Jefferson the man, humanized as never before.Entertainment Weekly

[Meacham] captures who Jefferson was, not just as a statesman but as a man. . . . By the end of the book . . . the reader is likely to feel as if he is losing a dear friend. . . . [An] absorbing tale.The Christian Science Monitor

This terrific book allows us to see the political genius of Thomas Jefferson better than we have ever seen...
… (mere)
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Viser 1-5 af 79 (næste | vis alle)
(2012) (Also AudioBook) Very good biography of our 3rd president and probably the most instrumental man in declaring our independence from England. A man with a strong vision of what the new nation should look and act like and who suffered no fools who didn't go along with his vision. He desperately tried to steer the country away from becoming a monarchy and feared that the Federalists (Washington, Adams, Hamilton) would cause that to happen. Because he was such a strong personality, his ?democratic-republicanism? put the nation on the path away from monarchy. He, probably more than any other founder, became the most revered and hated man of his time because of his strength of vision and ideals. Luckily for the nation, he was able to convince the citizens to go along with his efforts. Meacham took me on the journey with Jefferson in a very readable style.KIRKUS REVIEWA Pulitzer Prize?winning biographer lauds the political genius of Thomas Jefferson.As a citizen, Jefferson became a central leader in America's rebellion against the world's greatest empire. As a diplomat, he mentored a similar revolution in France. As president, he doubled the size of the United States without firing a shot and established a political dynasty that stretched over four decades. These achievements and many more, Time contributing editor Meacham (American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, 2008, etc.) smoothly argues, would have been impossible if the endlessly complicated Jefferson were merely the dreamy, impractical philosopher king his detractors imagined. His portrait of our most enigmatic president intentionally highlights career episodes that illustrate Jefferson's penchant for balancing competing interests and for compromises that, nevertheless, advanced his own political goals. Born to the Virginia aristocracy, Jefferson effectively disguised his drive for control, charming foes and enlisting allies to conduct battles on his behalf. As he accumulated power, he exercised it ruthlessly, often deviating from the ideals of limited government he had previouslyand eternally¥articulated. Stronger than any commitment to abstract principle, the impulse for pragmatic political maneuvering, Meacham insists, always predominated. With an insatiable hunger for information, a talent for improvisation and a desire for greatness, Jefferson coolly calculated political realities¥see his midlife abandonment of any effort to abolish slavery¥and, more frequently than not, emerged from struggles with opponents routed and his own authority enhanced. Through his thinking and writing, we've long appreciated Jefferson's lifelong devotion to ?the survival and success of democratic republicanism in America,? but Meacham's treatment reminds us of the flesh-and-blood politician, the man of action who masterfully bent the real world in the direction of his ideals.An outstanding biography that reveals an overlooked steeliness at Jefferson's core that accounts for so much of his political success.
  derailer | Jan 25, 2024 |
I have much to say about this book and Jefferson. I will need time to mull it over as I finish Ellis' book American Sphinx, which I read at the same time. . ( )
  wvlibrarydude | Jan 17, 2024 |
I normally don't read biographies but this was part of my book club and I am glad that I read it. I have always understood Jefferson to be a complex character. Recent issues related to his slave holding and probable fathering of children with his slave Sally Hemmings have somewhat tarnished his reputation. This book helps put his actions into the context of the times. For me I learned so much about the continuing antagonism between the new country and Britain over the course of 60 years until the end of the war of 1812 led to a treaty that led to our ultimate connection between the 2 countries. Meacham's style made me feel that I was in the room for the conversations he detailed. A little more detail on things like Hamilton's death and the war of 1812 would have helped but there is so much information about Jefferson already out there that this was not a big omission. We saw the positives and negatives of the key players in the founding of our country. The views of the leadership on slavery and native Americans reflected the times and though many believed that slavery was wrong including Jefferson but his political and power views caused him to not take action. He especially did not want to upset his life. He was correct in seeing the future. Unfortunately had bolder actions been taken by him and others we might not have had to deal with what the country went through and continues to go through in terms of race relations. Overall a worthwhile book with Jefferson being mostly portrayed as an extraordinary person who had real human flaws. ( )
  nivramkoorb | Nov 22, 2023 |
Fantastically written, especially the last few chapters regarding Jefferson’s retirement at Monticello.

The book showed me a different perspective on Jefferson — previously, I thought he was merely a great philosopher and visionary, rather than a pragmatic man of power who was willing to deviate from his tightly principles when necessary.

He was certainly a very philosophical person who held his beliefs about republicanism very close to him, but he knew when to lay aside his philosophy for the greater good. This is especially true when it comes to things like the Louisiana Purchase, and the war with the Barbary pirates. By knowing when to deviate from his principles when necessary, he did a lot to ensure the long term success of America. Without the enormous Louisiana Territory full of fertile land and long river systems, it is highly unlikely that the United States would have developed into the global behemoth it is today.

One very interesting fact I learned is that Jefferson received two bear cubs as a gift from one of his friends. He kept the bear cubs for some time in the White House (or President’s House, as it was known back then) in a cage without chaining them. The bears apparently did not get along initially, but overtime they became friendly and would play with each other all the time. Eventually, Jefferson sent the bear cubs to a Philadelphia zoo.

He also had a mockingbird that would sit on his shoulder or fly around the room when he was engaging in presidential business. These are somewhat unimportant details, but they are the ones that stood out to me the most. ( )
  Atul_Murali | Jul 2, 2023 |
This biography was good, but too short. I would have enjoyed more detail, more depth, about Jefferson's life and career. ( )
  Pferdina | Mar 11, 2023 |
Viser 1-5 af 79 (næste | vis alle)
Meacham has chosen storytelling over analysis, offering up a genial but meandering narrative. There is some meat in the book, but finding it requires dexterity and doggedness—checking the endnotes after every ten pages or so to see what is missing from the passing panorama. Meacham has read the scholarly literature on Jefferson—some of it critical—but doesn’t let enough of this debate intrude on the storytelling, which nearly always puts Jefferson in the best possible light.
tilføjet af eereed | RedigerThe New Republic, Henry Wiencek (Dec 4, 2012)
 
Mr. Meacham intends “The Art of Power” as a portrait that “neither lionizes nor indicts Jefferson, but instead restores him to his full and rich role as an American statesman who resists easy categorization.” That sounds bolder than it proves to be. It’s a polite way of staking out middle ground.
 
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A few broad strokes of the brush would paint the portraits of all the early Presidents with this exception. . . . Jefferson could be painted only touch by touch, with a fine pencil, and the perfection of the likeness depended upon the shifting and uncertain flicker of its semi-transparemt shadows. - Henry Adams, History of the United States of America During the Administration of Thomas Jefferson
I think this is the most extraordinary collection of talent, of human knowledge, that has ever been gathered together at the White House, with the possible exception of when Thomas Jefferson dined alone. - President John F. Kennedy, at a dinner in honor of all living receipients of the Nobel Prize, 1962
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Knowing human nature - and knowing the Congress, which was human nature writ large - [Jefferson] understood that the Congress would not be able to keep themselves from abusing their power by deciding that everything concerned the national interest.
Jefferson is the greatest Rubber off of Dust that he has ever met with, that he has learned French, Italian, Spanish, and wants to learn German. - John Adams reporting a fellow delegate's opinion
Some talked, some wrote, and some fought to promote and establish it, but you and Mr. Jefferson thought for us all. - Benjamin Rush to John Adams, Feb 1812
Time wastes too fast: every letter / I trace tells me with what rapidity / Life follows my pen. The days and hours / Of its are flying over our heads like / Clouds of windy day never to return / More every thing presses on / And every / Time I kiss thy hand to bid adieu, every absence which / Follows it, are preludes to that eternal separation / Which we are shortly to make!
Fill paper as you please with triangles and squares: try how many ways you can hang and combine them together...We are not immortal ourselves, my friend; how can we expect our enjoyments to be so? We have no rose without its thorn; no pleasure without alloy. It is the law of our existence; and we must acquiesce.
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Biography & Autobiography. History. Nonfiction. HTML:NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The New York Times Book Review The Washington Post Entertainment Weekly The Seattle Times St. Louis Post-Dispatch Bloomberg Businessweek

In this magnificent biography, the Pulitzer Prizewinning author of American Lion and Franklin and Winston brings vividly to life an extraordinary man and his remarkable times. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power gives us Jefferson the politician and president, a great and complex human being forever engaged in the wars of his era. Philosophers think; politicians maneuver. Jeffersons genius was that he was both and could do both, often simultaneously. Such is the art of power.
 
Thomas Jefferson hated confrontation, and yet his understanding of power and of human nature enabled him to move men and to marshal ideas, to learn from his mistakes, and to prevail. Passionate about many thingswomen, his family, books, science, architecture, gardens, friends, Monticello, and ParisJefferson loved America most, and he strove over and over again, despite fierce opposition, to realize his vision: the creation, survival, and success of popular government in America. Jon Meacham lets us see Jeffersons world as Jefferson himself saw it, and to appreciate how Jefferson found the means to endure and win in the face of rife partisan division, economic uncertainty, and external threat. Drawing on archives in the United States, England, and France, as well as unpublished Jefferson presidential papers, Meacham presents Jefferson as the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American history.
 
The father of the ideal of individual liberty, of the Louisiana Purchase, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and of the settling of the West, Jefferson recognized that the genius of humanityand the genius of the new nationlay in the possibility of progress, of discovering the undiscovered and seeking the unknown. From the writing of the Declaration of Independence to elegant dinners in Paris and in the Presidents House; from political maneuverings in the boardinghouses and legislative halls of Philadelphia and New York to the infant capital on the Potomac; from his complicated life at Monticello, his breathtaking house and plantation in Virginia, to the creation of the University of Virginia, Jefferson was central to the age. Here too is the personal Jefferson, a man of appetite, sensuality, and passion.
 
The Jefferson story resonates today not least because he led his nation through ferocious partisanship and cultural warfare amid economic change and external threats, and also because he embodies an eternal drama, the struggle of the leadership of a nation to achieve greatness in a difficult and confounding world.

Praise for Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
 
This is probably the best single-volume biography of Jefferson ever written.Gordon S. Wood
 
A big, grand, absorbing exploration of not just Jefferson and his role in history but also Jefferson the man, humanized as never before.Entertainment Weekly

[Meacham] captures who Jefferson was, not just as a statesman but as a man. . . . By the end of the book . . . the reader is likely to feel as if he is losing a dear friend. . . . [An] absorbing tale.The Christian Science Monitor

This terrific book allows us to see the political genius of Thomas Jefferson better than we have ever seen...

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