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  • Hardcover
  • $35.00 / $45.50 CAN
  • ISBN 13: 9780465094684

"A sympathetic (though not hagiographic) view of Jefferson that emphasizes the differences between his world and ours....[Jefferson] was, in Mr. Boles's words, the 'architect of American liberty,' a phrase the author uses without the sneers or hedges that have become de rigueur among recent chroniclers of the founding era....[a] splendid biography."—Wall Street Journal

"[A] good, solid, generally fair-minded biography... [Boles's] biography concentrates on the exterior events of Jefferson's private and public lives and weaves them together in a straightforward, clearly written narrative. It is the fullest and most complete single-volume life of Jefferson since Merrill Peterson's thousand-page biography of 1970."—

Gordon Wood, Weekly Standard

"For all readers interested in understanding the enigmatic and controversial Jefferson as well as his shortcomings and triumphs within the context of his time."—Library Journal

"In a narrative as majestic as its subject, Boles takes a fresh, nuanced look at one of the America's most enigmatic founding fathers... Boles, an accomplished scholar well versed in the source material, deftly paints a picture of the world as Jefferson knew it, taking care not to mix up understanding with excusing, especially with the Virginian's relationship with Sally Hemings. This is a gem of a biography."—Publishers Weekly

"John Boles's deeply researched and judiciously balanced Jefferson is an exemplary biography. Animated by a warm and wise admiration for a great American, Boles never loses sight of Jefferson's limitations and failures-or of his extraordinary achievements."—Peter Onuf, University of Virginia, and coauthor, with Annette Gordon-Reed, of 'Most Blessed of the Patriarchs': Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination

"Intensely satisfying... Boles does a particularly skillful job at weaving Jefferson's correspondence and other writings into the busy tempo of his year-to-year life, creating a fascinating dialogue on the page between the reserved and often diffident public man and direct and provocative private writer."—Christian Science Monitor

"[An] elegant, highly incisive new biography... The detail is impressive, equally so the fluidity of the presentation. The reader is enveloped in Jefferson's world."—Booklist

"A fully fleshed biography of Thomas Jefferson that emphasizes his creative paradoxes and accomplishments... A stately, knowledgeable study."—Kirkus Reviews

"John Boles's Jefferson is learned, fluent, sensitive, and magnificently detailed. It gives due attention to the intellectual currents and social circumstances that made Jefferson who he was, and its careful engagement with the complexities of slavery is convincingly integrated into the whole. Professor Boles has earned an eminent place for himself in the ever-active field of Jefferson studies."—Andrew Burstein, author of Jefferson's Secrets and coauthor of Madison and Jefferson


Architect of American Liberty

By (author) John B. Boles

"Magisterial... Jefferson: Architect of American Liberty is perhaps the finest one-volume biography of an American president." --Jonathan Yardley, Washington Post

From an eminent scholar of the American South, the first full-scale biography of Thomas Jefferson since 1970

As Alexander Hamilton's star has risen, Thomas Jefferson's has fallen, largely owing to their divergent views on race. Once seen as the most influential American champion of liberty and democracy, Jefferson is now remembered largely for his relationship with his slave Sally Hemmings, and for electing not to free her or most of the other people he owned.

In this magisterial biography, the eminent scholar John B. Boles does not ignore the aspects of Jefferson that trouble us today, but strives to see him in full, and to understand him amid the sweeping upheaval of his times. We follow Jefferson from his early success as an abnormally precocious student and lawyer in colonial Virginia through his drafting of the Declaration of Independence at age 33, his travels in Europe on the eve of the French Revolution, his acidic personal battles with Hamilton, his triumphant ascent to the presidency in 1801, his prodigious efforts to found the University of Virginia, and beyond.

From Jefferson's inspiring defenses of political and religious liberty to his heterodox abridgment of Christian belief, Boles explores Jefferson's expansive intellectual life, and the profound impact of his ideas on the world. Boles overturns conventional wisdom at every turn, arguing, among other things, that Jefferson did not--as later southerners would--deem the states rightfully superior to the federal government. Yet Boles's view is not limited to politics and public life; we also meet Jefferson the architect, scientist, bibliophile, and gourmet--as well as Jefferson the gentle father and widower, doting on his daughters and longing for escape from the rancorous world of politics.

As this authoritative, evenhanded portrait shows, Jefferson challenges us more thoroughly than any other Founder; he was at once the most idealistic, contradictory, and quintessentially American of them all.
John B. Boles is the William P. Hobby Professor of History at Rice University and the former editor of the Journal of Southern History. He lives in Houston, Texas.

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