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Publisher's Summary

Explore the captivating contradictions of one of US history’s most divisive figures with the celebrated West Point professor and author of Confounding Father: Thomas Jefferson’s Image in His Own Time. 

Thomas Jefferson was the first secretary of state, second vice president, and third president of the United States. A polymath who championed education and religious freedom, he drafted the Declaration of Independence and made more attempts than any other officeholder of his generation to end slavery. Yet he remained a slaveholder throughout his life. A diplomat who charmed people abroad, at home he was a lightning rod of controversy - both loved and hated, revered and reviled.  

Join West Point history Professor Robert McDonald as he tells the story of the life of one of history’s most fascinating men. In 15 energetic lectures, McDonald - a noted expert on Jefferson, the American Revolution, and the Early Republic - seeks to explain Jefferson as a man of his times. The results will by turns surprise, delight, and confound you, challenging what you think you know about the third president’s life and era.  

This course is part of the Learn25 collection.

©2020 Now You Know Media, Inc. (P)2020 Now You Know Media, Inc.

Critic Reviews

“Rob McDonald is a superb historian of the era of the American Revolution and Early Republic. Rob’s scholarship has enriched our understanding of the Revolution’s significance in American and world history. He is a leading authority on the Declaration of Independence and the leading authority Thomas Jefferson’s changing reputation in his own lifetime.” (Peter S. Onuf, professor emeritus, University of Virginia)

What listeners say about Thomas Jefferson: American Revolutionary

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Fascinating insights delivered well

Robert McDonald is clearly a first-rate early American Historian with a knack for good story telling. But I wondered how he would tackle as subject as contradictory as Thomas Jefferson. Throughout this series, I found his lectures balanced, erudite and well-researched. Regarding slavery specifically, McDonald explores this blight on our history, and Jefferson's role as a slave owner, with clear eyes. But he also illustrates his inner turmoil and the moral, legal, and political lengths to which Jefferson went to overturn this institutions. Jefferson's arguments against slavery were surprising and thought-provoking.

I also appreciated how McDonald sets this biographical history in broader context, exploring transformative forces of the Enlightenment, the causes and course of the American Revolution, visions for the new country, etc.

Throughout, I find McDonald's energy, humor, and honesty engaging and refreshing. I highly recommend this series.

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Deep knowledge and enthusiasm

A great listen. Professor McDonald knows Jefferson and knows how to tell his story, from the big themes of Jefferson the philosopher/Founding Father/architect/farmer to features of his day-to-day life which humanize Jefferson the man. I also thoroughly enjoyed McDonald’s lectures on Washington.