Thomas Jefferson: Author of America (Eminent Lives)

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9780007213726: Thomas Jefferson: Author of America (Eminent Lives)

Leading journalist and social critic Christopher Hitchens offers a startlingly new and provocative interpretation of America's founding father, situating Jefferson within the context of America's evolution and tracing his legacy over the past two hundred years. Whether in politics, literature, science or the arts, the subjects of this dynamic series of brief biographies have shaped our picture of the world. The authors' strong sensibilities and sharp, lively points of view make us see that picture in a totally new way. The key to the 'Eminent Lives' series is the pairing of author and subject: distinguished writers on figures central to world culture. An eloquent writer, Thomas Jefferson was an awkward public speaker and a reluctant candidate; nevertheless he left an indelible presidential legacy. He penned the Declaration of Independence and acted as Minister to France yet yearned for a quieter career in the Virginia legislature. Predicting that slavery would shape the future of America's development, this professed proponent of emancipation elided the issue in the Declaration and continued to own human property. In the background of this sophisticated analysis is a large historical drama: the fledgling nation's struggle for independence, formed in the crucible of the 18th-century Enlightenment, and, in its shadow, the deformation of that struggle in the excesses of the French Revolution. This artful portrait of a formative figure and a turbulent era poses a challenge to anyone interested in world history and the ambiguities of human nature.

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In this unique biography of Thomas Jefferson, leading journalist and social critic Christopher Hitchens offers a startlingly new and provocative interpretation of our Founding Father. Situating Jefferson within the context of America's evolution and tracing his legacy over the past two hundred years, Hitchens brings the character of Jefferson to life as a man of his time and also as a symbolic figure beyond it.

Conflicted by power, Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and acted as Minister to France yet yearned for a quieter career in the Virginia legislature. Predicting that slavery would shape the future of America's development, this professed proponent of emancipation elided the issue in the Declaration and continued to own human property. An eloquent writer, he was an awkward public speaker; a reluctant candidate, he left an indelible presidential legacy.

Jefferson's statesmanship enabled him to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase with France, doubling the size of the nation, and he authorized the Lewis and Clark expedition, opening up the American frontier for exploration and settlement. Hitchens also analyzes Jefferson's handling of the Barbary War, a lesser-known chapter of his political career, when his attempt to end the kidnapping and bribery of Americans by the Barbary states, and the subsequent war with Tripoli, led to the building of the U.S. navy and the fortification of America's reputation regarding national defense.

In the background of this sophisticated analysis is a large historical drama: the fledgling nation's struggle for independence, formed in the crucible of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, and, in its shadow, the deformation of that struggle in the excesses of the French Revolution. This artful portrait of a formative figure and a turbulent era poses a challenge to anyone interested in American history -- or in the ambiguities of human nature.

Discover More Eminent Lives


Francis Crick: Discoverer of the Genetic Code by Matt Ridley

Freud: Inventor of the Modern Mind by Peter Kramer

Machiavelli: Philosopher of Power by Ross King

Muhammad: A Prophet for Our Time by Karen Armstrong

George Washington: The Founding Father by Paul Johnson

Alexis de Tocqueville: Democracy's Guide by Joseph Epstein

About the Author:

Christopher Hitchens, one of the most controversial and compelling voices in Anglo-American journalism, has published more than a dozen books, most recently 'Love, Poverty, and War: Journeys and Essays'. A contributing editor to Vanity Fair, he also writes a monthly column for The Atlantic, and his work regularly appears in The New York Times Book Review, The Nation, Harper's, Slate, and The New York Review of Books, among other publications. He lives with his family in Washington, D.C.

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Hitchens, Christopher
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Hitchens, Christopher
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Book Description Harper Press, An Imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [Atlas Books], London, 2007. Hardcover. Book Condition: Very good. Dust Jacket Condition: very good. First Printing [Stated]. xiv, [2], 188, [4] pages. Inscribed on title page with reference to 'many thanks for his book help'. Christopher Eric Hitchens (13 April 1949 - 15 December 2011) was an Anglo-American author, columnist, essayist, orator, religious and literary critic, social critic, and journalist. He contributed to New Statesman, The Nation, The Atlantic, London Review of Books, The Times Literary Supplement, Slate, and Vanity Fair. Hitchens was the author, co-author, editor or co-editor of over 30 books, including five collections of essays, on a range of subjects, including politics, literature, and religion. Known for his contrarian stance on a number of issues, Hitchens criticized public figures as Mother Teresa, Bill Clinton, Henry Kissinger, and Diana, Princess of Wales. Hitchens was an ardent advocate for the separation of church and state; a self-described antitheist, he regarded the concept of a god or supreme being as a totalitarian belief that destroys individual freedom, and argued that free expression and scientific discovery should replace religion as a means of teaching ethics and defining human civilization. Thomas Jefferson: Author of America is a biography of Thomas Jefferson, the third President of the United States (1801-09) and the principal author of the Declaration of Independence (1776), by author, journalist and literary critic Christopher Hitchens. It was released as a part of Harper Collins' Eminent Lives series of "biographies by distinguished authors on canonical figures." The book has been praised by critics. Ted Widmer of The New York Times wrote, "Hitchens brings a refreshing perspective to the task, both in that he has not written at length about the founding moment and in that he sees Jefferson from the perspective of a Briton, albeit an Americanized one." Publishers Weekly similarly described it as a "dense biography" and called it "a fascinating character study and an excellent review of early American history." Kirkus Reviews called it "a lucid, gently critical view of the great president and empire-builder and most literate of politicians." In this unique biography of Thomas Jefferson, leading journalist and social critic Christopher Hitchens offers a startlingly new and provocative interpretation of our Founding Father. Situating Jefferson within the context of America's evolution and tracing his legacy over the past two hundred years, Hitchens brings the character of Jefferson to life as a man of his time and also as a symbolic figure beyond it. Conflicted by power, Jefferson wrote the Declaration of Independence and acted as Minister to France yet yearned for a quieter career in the Virginia legislature. An eloquent writer, he was an awkward public speaker; a reluctant candidate, he left an indelible presidential legacy. Jefferson's statesmanship enabled him to negotiate the Louisiana Purchase with France, doubling the size of the nation, and he authorized the Lewis and Clark expedition, opening up the American frontier for exploration and settlement. Hitchens also analyzes Jefferson's handling of the Barbary War, a lesser-known chapter of his political career, when his attempt to end the kidnapping and bribery of Americans by the Barbary states, and the subsequent war with Tripoli, led to the building of the U.S. navy and the fortification of America's reputation regarding national defense. This artful portrait of a formative figure and a turbulent era poses a challenge to anyone interested in American history -- or in the ambiguities of human nature. Bookseller Inventory # 72933

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