• Jefferson

  • Architect of American Liberty
  • By: John B. Boles
  • Narrated by: Michael Johnson
  • Length: 24 hrs and 11 mins
  • 4.6 out of 5 stars (200 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From an eminent scholar of the American South, the first full-scale biography of Thomas Jefferson since 1970. Not since Merrill Peterson's Thomas Jefferson and the New Nation has a scholar attempted to write a comprehensive biography of the most complex Founding Father. In Jefferson, John B. Boles plumbs every facet of Thomas Jefferson's life, all while situating him amid the sweeping upheaval of his times. We meet Jefferson the politician and political thinker - as well as Jefferson the architect, scientist, bibliophile, paleontologist, musician, and gourmet. We witness him drafting of the Declaration of Independence, negotiating the Louisiana Purchase, and inventing a politics that emphasized the states over the federal government - a political philosophy that shapes our national life to this day.

Boles offers new insight into Jefferson's actions and thinking on race. His Jefferson is not a hypocrite, but a tragic figure - a man who could not hold simultaneously to his views on abolition, democracy, and patriarchal responsibility. Yet despite his flaws, Jefferson's ideas would outlive him and make him into nothing less than the architect of American liberty.

©2017 John B. Boles (P)2017 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"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)
"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)

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What listeners say about Jefferson

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Makes Jefferson Human

After listening to Chernow’s Washington in which Jefferson comes off as a snake-in-the grass, backstabbing conniver in George Washington’s cabinet, this book—though never denying the animosity of TJ for Hamilton—gives a more balanced (I suppose) portrait. Jefferson seems to be a more generous & cooperative soul when in charge than as a cabinet member.
I came out of this book with increased admiration & esteem for Jefferson. I still admire Hamilton as well.
This was a wonderful book, I highly recommend it. A few other reviewers commented the book lacked depth on Jefferson’s relationship with Sally Hemings; hmm, I don’t agree. That relationship seemed to be sufficiently & intelligently dealt with. I found no fault with this book. Very well written & read.

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Great Listen

Very good biography of Jefferson. Author does a nice job of providing the facts on Jefferson while also grappling with the obvious contradictions within his life and and adding some personal commentary from time to time.

1 person found this helpful

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Jefferson

Boles' excellent biography humanize the sage of Monticello. Boles shows us a Thomas Jefferson who is both a great and brilliant man ,an idealist and reformer ,but also a flawed, if well being human being. This book will not satisfy the Jefferson haters who insist that historical figures must be perfect but to fair minded readers John Boles ' book acquaint us with a man well worth knowing and admiring.

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A Whole New Understanding of More Than Jefferson

This is a great, factual breakdown, of Jefferson presented in the context of his time. The author doesn't make excuses for him, but does provide the information necessary for the reader to make their own decisions.

The book also opened my eyes to the early politics and players that guided our country in its earliest days.

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Interesting, Informative, Somewhat Balanced

A very thorough, interesting biography, which makes a valiant attempt to balance Thomas Jefferson as a slave owner and lover of one of his slaves with all the great things he accomplished as a Founding Father, governor of Virginia, president of the United States, and statesman. I would have liked to know more, however, about the slaves Jefferson did not free at his death. Only a sentence or two is devoted to them. What happened to these unfortunate souls?

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Stirring, excellent biography

Excellent biography of a truly unique person, both of his time and beyond time.
Well written, thoughtful, objective analysis. The United States and the world owe him gratitude and honor.

The audiobook was well performed.

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comprehensive, respectful, measured

this was appropriately critical, unexpectedly inspiring, and authentically humanizing. doesn't shy away from the inexplicable decisions that conflict with Jefferson's own values. it is honest, and incredibly timely in today's political environment.

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HIGHLY RECOMMEND!!!

Being a conservative that loves American history I find it very difficult to find books about the founding fathers that are not written by far left authors that write garbage they claim is history and fact. This book is very fair! Boles tells the entire story, When it comes to slavery Boles makes it very clear as to where Jefferson was on that topic and provides context as to why Jefferson may have done the things he did. Jefferson was an amazing man that played a huge role in the revolutionary war and the early years of this great country. I will be buying a physical copy to keep on the book shelf. Hope you enjoy this book as much as I did.

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high expectations

Perhaps my expectations of this book were too high as was my expectation of perfection of this, one of the great founding fathers. it was heartbreakingly disappointing to discover that on the issue of slavery my idol's feet were of clay, as are mine on many subjects.

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Just an apologist

I was extremely disappointed after reading Chernow’s Hamilton. The biography didn’t mention Hamilton until halfway through the book.

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 10-31-21

Good but sounds an advert for Jefferson

Narration is old-fashioned and lacks drama / emphasis when it was clearly intended by the author resulting in a bland storytelling performance.
A lot of assumptions seem to have been made when there was a lack of historical records and the authors goes for the obvious rather than simply admit that it isn't possible to know more.