Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
Meacham provides an incredibly well-researched book on Thomas Jefferson and all that made him tick. His love of nation and patriotism is highlighted throughout the book and it would serve well those who in power today that constantly cry “This isn’t what our founding fathers would want!” to read this.
Some sections felt a little bit like a textbook, but those parts were short and passed fairly quickly. Meacham doesn’t shy away from the less noble aspects of Franklin’s life either – Sally Hemmings, his stance on and use of slavery, and so on. Some have criticized Meacham as glossing over the not so nice side of things in his coverage of Jefferson, I don’t agree with that sentiment. There are plenty of books that focus strictly on his personal life. This book focuses on his political life with his personal life sprinkled throughout.
Jefferson, ever the charmer and conversationalist, was able to do more with those that opposed him than most politicians would’ve accomplished. Breaking bread with sworn “enemies” and opponents, his charm and easygoing persona seemed to disarm some of those that may have adamantly opposed Jefferson and his agenda. He loved power and control but strongly disliked conflict.
I’d give three and a half stars overall, but the research contained therein and the overall completeness of the book, and with it, Jefferson’s story, bumped it up to four stars.