Thomas Jefferson designed his own tombstone, describing himself simply as Author of the Declaration of Independence and of the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia It is in this simple epitaph that R B Bernstein finds the key to this enigmatic Founder not as a great political figure, but as leader of a revolution of ideas that would make the world over again In Thomas Jefferson, Bernstein offers the definitive short biography of this revered American the first concise life in six decades Bernstein deftly synthesizes the massive scholarship on his subject into a swift, insightful, evenhanded account Here are all of Jefferson s triumphs, contradictions, and failings, from his luxurious and debt burdened life as a Virginia gentleman to his passionate belief in democracy, from his tortured defense of slavery to his relationship with Sally Hemings Jefferson was indeed multifaceted an architect, inventor, writer, diplomat, propagandist, planter, party leader and Bernstein explores all these roles even as he illuminates Jefferson s central place in the American enlightenment, that revolution of ideas that did so much to create the nation we know today Together with the less well remembered points in Jefferson s thinking the nature of the Union, his vision of who was entitled to citizenship, his dread of debt both personal and national they form the heart of this lively biography In this marvel of compression and comprehension, we see Jefferson clearly than in the massive studies of earlier generations More important, we see, in Jefferson s visionary ideas, the birth of the nation s grand sense of purpose

8 thoughts on “Thomas Jefferson (Audio Download): R. B. Bernstein, Phil Holland, Audible Studios: Audible Audiobooks

  1. David K. Warner David K. Warner says:

    This is a slightly disappointing biography, whose brevity cannot encompass the enormous achievements of Jefferson and the Revolutionary Age, and which in its even handed but somewhat reverential approach gives only a thin sketch of America s third president, when only a full portrait will suffice The prose is clear, and unnecessary repetitions aside, rattles on to provide a not unpleasant light read, but the book makes no effort to delve deep enough to make possible a true assessment of Jefferson s character, and raises questions than answers, particularly with regard to how much influence he had on and what responsibility he bears for the events that led to the Civil War Jefferson s greatness is here assumed but unproven, and Bernstein is unable to reconcile the idealism of the writings with the often contradictory actions of the man, and to deal with the two issues that most sully his subject s reputation how could the prophet of human freedom remain a slave holder to his death, and how could the father of American nationalism have ignored the dangers of nullification and secession to which his words would give support.The Jefferson drawn here is, not unlike like this book, a disappointment, and rather than being the man for all seasons that his modern advocates would regard him to be, he comes across as a product of late eighteenth century enlightment rationalism and the Virginian landed genleman class, whose solutions to the problems of his day only caused greater, almost intractable problems for the next generations The feeling persists that perhaps Alexander Hamilton was right, and it is his vision, not Jefferson s, that better shapes the United Starss today, and that the latter s position in the American pantheon should always be contested.

  2. The Warwick Reader The Warwick Reader says:

    I was looking for a concise book which would give me some basic understanding of the character and lifetime achievements of Thomas Jefferson, without having to read a fully blown biography about every minor decision and event that helped shape his life After spotting this book on , I decided that even though priced slightly higher than what I was looking to pay, I would give it a go and I m pleased I did.Written in a very easy to read style and remarkably detailed for such a short book, this title highlights the most important aspects of Jefferson s life, and shows clearly how his experiences helped shape the political views and decisions made while in office It also demonstrates his incredibly complex character by highlighting changing viewpoints, personal and political contradictions and the possibilities of an illicit relationship Whatever the reason for the contradictions, be it for personal gain or for the greater good of America, the facts are fully explored and well documented by the author, both from the perspective of when Jefferson was alive, and also a retrospective viewpoint which includes new evidence that has come to light since his death.Covering nearly all the major areas which I had an interest in, including the writing of the Declaration of Independence, his time in France, his political career including positions held prior to becoming President, and his contributions to the founding of the University of Virginia, this book gave me an incredibly well rounded insight and detailed understanding of not only Jefferson as a person, but how his views, insight and political decisions helped shape the politics, laws and country we understand today.The only slight area lacking was in depth explanations on some of Jefferson other activities we understand from the book that he was an avid reader and book collector, and also dabbled in the world of mechanical innovation invention and architecture, but only a few sentences scattered throughout the book touch on these subjects Perhaps a little detail in this area would make Jefferson rounded, multi layered character for the reader, however this is only a very small observation, and I am fully aware that there is only so much that can be written in 300 pages.In all, this book provides a clear picture of Jefferson and his political views and major accomplishments and failures Entertainingly written and simple enough for those without a degree in politics or those, like myself, who live outside of America to follow, this title will give you a ground level understanding into one of the most fascinating American figures It certainly whets the appetite, increases intrigue and lays the groundwork for further in depth reading both on Jefferson and the early history of the founding of America I certainly agree with Gordon S Wood s review from The New York Times Book Review, which states The best short biography of Jefferson ever writtenhighly recommended for those who want a brief and historically reliable account of this incredibly complicated character Authoritative, judicious, clearly written and remarkably complete.

  3. Richard Atkinson Richard Atkinson says:

    I suspect that if you were brought up and educated in the USA that a load of information that is contained in this gem of a book would indeed be self evident However for me a Scotsman who is working his way through the Bios of each US president it is great to have read a book that gives you both the depth of the Characters and the situations surrounding them but builds this picture from the point of view of needing no prior information.I would therefore warmly recommend this book.Of particular note were some passages that ring all too true today the birth of Partisan politics, the use of Bias media, and how Debt issues then sound very familiar to debt issues now, frankly the only thing in modern USA that does not seem to be reflected from a similar issue in Jeffersons time is Universal Healthcare JeffersonCare Anyone

  4. J. Kimbrough J. Kimbrough says:

    This is a well written, concise, fair, unbiased, biography of Thomas Jefferson If you are person who has an interest in Thomas Jefferson and do not have the time or desire to read the prolific and lengthy biographies written about him, then this book is for you.Bernstein highlights the major ides, accomplishments and the highs and lows of TJ s life You will learn the essentials of this man and walk away with a better understanding of who was Thomas Jefferson and what did he stand for The book is well annotated A chronology of Jefferson s life is provided, as well as, further reading list to continue on if you want detail on one of our Founding Fathers and 3rd President of the US Thomas Jefferson was a controversial figure with many conflicting ideas and actions The author handles this in a fair and unbiased manner based on the current information that was available at the time he wrote it.I highly recommend this book as the starting point for your studies of Thomas Jefferson I wish there were autobiographies like this on other Great Persons in American history.

  5. Patrick S. Patrick S. says:

    This is probably one of the best biographies I ve read on a Founding Father This came with a recommendation from Tom Wood s forum as being a good book on Jefferson.Bernstein presents probably the fairest assessment of a person from the time period as I ve seen He doesn t ascribe deity or hero worship or perfection to the man He also doesn t disparage Jefferson for being a product of his time and class and society Bernstein presents Jefferson as a flawed individual who is not always consistent and doesn t always come out on top also known as a man.Bernstein takes a look at large periods of Jefferson s life and isn t writing to complete a minutia detailed account of every aspect of his life However, the areas he does point to build up the man into who he would become, who he was, and how he ended life Bernstein does reveal quite a bit that you don t learn about in history books or in school because Jefferson tends to be known for only one to two very large things but he was so much than those labels only Bernstein also makes sure the reader understands some of the settings and places and even people surrounding Jefferson Again, this is covered with a good amount of balance Jefferson isn t the man who could do no wrong I did learn quite a bit about Jefferson, which should be one of the main goals when reading a biography Bernstein does not shy away, either, of covering points of Jefferson s life like his contradictory position on slavery or his possibly fathering children from one of his slaves Again, Bernstein, doesn t excuse it but he also doesn t call for readers of the current time to look back and denigrate those who don t hold the same values Sadly, that s where mainstream conversations and populist books tend to go nowadays.Bernstein does a wonderful job at presenting Jefferson and his history I highly recommend this book for those wanting to read about Jefferson or the era of the founding of America I would have liked Bernstein to have gone a bit into the political discussions Jefferson had with some areas of my own interest Sometimes he tends to write as Jefferson on one side of the issue, someone else on the other, and here s the outcome There are times that I wish the author would provide the reasons why Jefferson held to certain positions or had certain interests However, I believe that may be the hindrance of history rather than the author Final Grade A

  6. Lovell K. Henson Lovell K. Henson says:

    I realized recently that I had never really read a good biography of Jefferson, just bits and pieces here and there So many biographies are written with an agenda, or the older actions are judged by modern s Well, this one was not judgemental at all, he presented the facts and left the judgement up to the reader Good book.

  7. Robert L. Smith Robert L. Smith says:

    If you ve put off reading a book about our founding fathers I would recommend R B Bernstein s, Thomas Jefferson as a great place to start Bernstein s book provides a very good, though not detailed, examination of Jefferson s life, reflecting both the good and the bad It is impossible for a citizen of the U.S in 2013 to imagine the difficulty and uncertainty the founding fathers had in traversing the unknowns of establishing a new nation and a new government system while breaking their connections to England, their homeland What could inspire and compel men to do such a thing Bernstein permits us to take a brief look into the minds of several of these early leaders, Thomas Jefferson in particular, to gain a sense of their motivations In Thomas Jefferson we follow Jefferson from his early privileged life in Virginia his education and his venture into politics, starting at the Virginia Assembly and rising to be Vice President and then President of the United States Along the way he made mistakes and experienced some of the frailties common to most men but his contributions to our republican form of government set him apart as one of our finest Presidents Should a reader of this book desire to read further into this period of American political life, Bernstein provides a very good list of references in his Notes and Bibliographical references.

  8. J. Dooley J. Dooley says:

    This book is concise and easy to read, which is important to maintain the reader s interest You ll learn many things about Jefferson that you didn t know, especially his nuanced feelings about slavery What s most interesting is the often overlooked time Jefferson spent in Europe Understanding this period of Jefferson s life is crucial to understanding his sympathy for the French Revolution, which was one of a couple of major points of contention between Jefferson and Hamilton By the way, the Jeffersonians and Hamiltonians were the first major political divide in America Bernstein achieves what is very difficult withhold judgment on Jefferson and let the facts speak for themselves After reading several books about the Founders, I ve found that Jefferson is an idealist to a fault and much too faithful in the goodness of men Also, his determination not to choose sides between the French and British was one of a series of mistakes made by Presidents Adams through Madison that left America open to attack from the British in 1812.My only complaint of this book is that the chapter on Jefferson s second term in office is rather brief Besides that, it is pleasantly informative and balanced.