Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power - Jon Meacham

Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

By Jon Meacham

  • Release Date: 2012-11-13
  • Genre: Biographies & Memoirs
Score: 3.5
From 760 Ratings


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 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 Drawing on archives in the United States, England, and France, as well as unpublished Jefferson presidential papers, Meacham presents Jefferson as the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American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.

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 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


  • This is how to write good history!

    By Mainejayne
    This is one of the best biographies I have ever read: it brilliantly captures the character, complexity, and contradictions of this endlessly intriguing man. By focusing on the Art of Power, Meacham gives us a compelling and cohesive narrative spanning eight decades.
  • More like a textbook

    By ED’s Twinkle
    This reads much more like a textbook than a novel. It bounces all over the timeline of Jefferson’s life instead of telling a story chronologically. My favorite parts are when the author describes land, buildings, attire etc. I’m intrigued to read a different type of book about Jefferson, perhaps his autobiography. I’d like to know much more about Monticello and the various people that worked his property. Would I read this again, no.
  • High bar

    By BillGatesFreckles
    Poignant I should conclude this book on the eve of a new presidency that could very dismantle the 240 years of progress Jefferson helped create. Should be required reading for ever voter and president. It least we'll have this to rebuild from.
  • Qualified success

    By Dissatiafied
    This book was very good, but the on-line version was frustrating in that pages were missing. Shame on you ITunes for not making sure this book was not was formatted properly! I hope I don't run into this problem again!!
  • Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power

    By Dr. Brodar
    Great book! I wish my American History class had revealed as much as this book. This helped with some concepts of historical time lines that I did not know were related. The second amendment has nothing to do with hunting or self protection. It was designed to help keep our own government in check with an armed civilian population. The concepts of government borrowing is not new. What it has highlighted within me is the "lost concept of a REPUBLICAN.". If the republic does not hold, then the democratic concepts fail. The term "a monocrate" was new for me. Very inspiring to see how it all began and then where it has gone.
  • The of power about Thomas Jefferson

    By Showorker
    It was a great book to read learn alot.
  • The art of power

    By Dtboo7
    Well done !
  • Very well put together answers old & frames new questions

    By Itscrazycock
    I do not read as much as I should, & this book hooked me almost immediately. I quickly felt the need to share it with my 12yr old and my wife. This book has started or provided context for so many dinner conversations I've lost count. I could go on & on but I dare you to read the first few chapters & try to put it back on the shelf.