Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

>> Sunday, November 4, 2012

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Jon MeachamIn this magnificent biography, the Pulitzer Prize–winning 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. Jefferson’s 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 things—women, his family, books, science, architecture, gardens, friends, Monticello, and Paris—Jefferson 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 Jefferson’s 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 Drawing on archives in the United States, England, and France, as well as unpublished Jefferson presidential papers, Meacham presents Jefferson as the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American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 humanity—and the genius of the new nation—lay 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 President’s 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.
Advance praise for Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

“Jon Meacham resolves the bundle of contradictions that was Thomas Jefferson by probing his love of progress and thirst for power. This is a thrilling and affecting portrait of our first philosopher-politician.”—Stacy Schiff

“This terrific book allows us to see the political genius of Thomas Jefferson better than we have ever seen it before. In these endlessly fascinating pages, Jefferson emerges with such vitality that it seems as if he might still be alive today.”—Doris Kearns Goodwin

About the author
Jon Meacham (born May 20, 1969) is executive editor and executive vice president at Random House. He is also former editor of Newsweek, a Pulitzer Prize-winning, bestselling author, and commentator on politics, history, and religious faith in America. He is also a contributing editor to Time Magazine and editor-at-large of WNET Public Media, the New York public television station.
Meacham’s latest book, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, is to be published by Random House on November 13, 2012. His book, American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, was published by Random House on November 11, 2008 and debuted at #2 on The New York Times bestseller list. On April 20, 2009, American Lion was awarded the Pulitzer Prize. Meacham is also the author two other New York Times bestsellers — American Gospel: God, the Founding Fathers, and the Making of a Nation and Franklin and Winston: An Intimate Portrait of an Epic Friendship, about the wartime relationship between Roosevelt and Churchill. Named a book of the year by The Los Angeles Times, it won The Churchill Centre’s 2005 Emery Reves Award for the best book of the year on Winston Churchill (previous winners include Roy Jenkins, Sir Martin Gilbert, and William Manchester) and the William H. Colby Military Writers’ Symposium’s Book of the Year Award.

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