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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Thomas Jefferson - The Art Of Power

I liked Jon Meacham’s new biography, “Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power.” It is a good book. It’s not as great as the authors American Lion, his Pulitzer Prize winning biography of Andrew Jackson. While Meacham is a highly skilled wordsmith (he is one of those journalists turned historian) and his research is impeccable, he does tread the middle ground a bit too much in this book.  As you are probably are aware, Mr. Jefferson’s reputation has taken a beating in recent years. It’s all about hypocrisy. The man who brought us “all men are created equal” had slaves.  Considering the times though, while he made some motions early on towards eliminating slavery later he talked out of both sides of his mouth. Promising some he was against it and would work to end the institution and then continuing to live the live the life and do nothing about it. Meacham deftly avoids much of this subject, says little about his   black mistress and mother of many of his children.  Much of what Mr. Meacham has to say about Jefferson repeated frequently, is that he was both philosopher and politician but could be pragmatic when theory and reality were at odds. Though he was an idealist but was also able to be practical and could compromise in an burgeoning era of extreme partisanship. All and all in todays similar climate there were some good lessons  for today.  I’m sure the book will be very popular and will give it a B+.


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