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Extended Audio Sample The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family Audiobook, by Annette Gordon-Reed Click for printable size audiobook cover
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (1,386 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Annette Gordon-Reed Narrator: Karen White Publisher: Tantor Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2008 ISBN: 9781400179756
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This epic work tells the story of the Hemingses, whose close blood ties to our third president had been systematically expunged from American history until very recently. Now, historian and legal scholar Annette Gordon-Reed traces the Hemings family from its origins in Virginia in the 1700s to the family's dispersal after Jefferson's death in 1826. It brings to life not only Sally Hemings and Thomas Jefferson but also their children and Hemings's siblings, who shared a father with Jefferson's wife, Martha. The Hemingses of Monticello sets the family's compelling saga against the backdrop of Revolutionary America, Paris on the eve of its own revolution, 1790s Philadelphia, and plantation life at Monticello. Much anticipated, this book promises to be the most important history of an American slave family ever written. Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • [Listeners] will find it absorbing. The New York Times
  • “Readers will find it absorbing.”

    New York Times

  • “This revelatory American story provides some much needed insight into Southern antebellum life and the various contradictions involving the views and behavior of slave masters and their relations to their slaves.”

    Los Angeles Times

  • “Gordon-Reed has given us an important story that is ultimately about the timeless quest for justice and human dignity.”

    San Francisco Chronicle

  • “Fascinating, wise, and of the utmost importance…Gordon-Reed’s genius for reading nearly silent records makes this an extraordinary work.”

    Publishers Weekly (starred review)

  • “This is a masterpiece brimming with decades of dedicated research and dexterous writing.”

    Library Journal (starred review)

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sue | 2/15/2014

    " Am 3/4 through this book..... course I love history so I find this very interesting... and to think for so many years TJ and descendants denied his family w/ Sally Hemings! They wee most obvious at the time! Ms. Gordon-Reed does go down many paths of conversation about possibilities of this and that since no documentation exists... overall... very good. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bunnie O'hara | 2/11/2014

    " annette gordon reed has researched this subject very well- this is the story of sally hemings -a slave in the time of thomas jefferson. it is also the story of her relatives and their relationship to jefferson's wife and finally their individual fates.little known facts about the way jefferson and those around him lived. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Joanna Cyrgalis | 2/9/2014

    " difficult to read, a good deal of conjecture and going off on tangents. one of the few books i started and probably will not finish "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Meri | 2/4/2014

    " I couldn't finish this one. While I find the subject very interesting, Ms. Gordon-Reed went into far too much speculative detail. While the reader in me is curious whether Sally Hemings found Thomas Jefferson attractive or how she may have felt about living in Paris, she beats the subject to death going over all of the possibilities. Gordon-Reed also has an annoying propensity to spoon feed us obvious information, like that just because two people are legally married doesn't mean they love each other and even though slaves were legally property, they still had the full gamut of human emotions. I have to give her credit for loving her subject, but not conveying that love to her readers very well. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole Dade | 1/23/2014

    " An amazing books that detailed the relationships between slaves and their owners. A history book that was from a different perspective, very enjoyable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 1/20/2014

    " I read this awhile ago, and still find myself thinking about it. I want to come to some sort of succinct conclusions about Jefferson and the Hemings part of his family. This book isn't just a presentation of historical facts. There's a lot of speculation and opinion mixed in. Sometimes the presentation is objective, sometimes it's not. I understand why. This is a complex story with huge parts missing (and hidden). Interesting, complex, thought provoking. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Susan | 1/18/2014

    " a brilliant piece of research where information on this lovely family had to be culled from ashes and dust and few documents. a big book. a real american story. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Paula | 1/16/2014

    " If it had been less grounded in fact, it would be more entertaining, perhaps, but not as thought-provoking or valuable. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Laurie | 12/25/2013

    " Okey, I didn't actually finish this. Very dense, very interesting! I wish that it had had fewer details and more insights into the culture. Actually, the insights were there...I just couldn't wade through to get to them all. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Karl | 11/16/2013

    " An excellent book that helps explain what real life was like during the life of the Hemmingses of Monticello and how what now is inexplicable (slavery) could be part of everyday life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Mary Anne | 10/7/2013

    " While there are many primary sources garnered (letters and the like), Mrs. Gordon-Reed interjects opinion and speculation, interpretation of minuscule smatterings of anecdotes. This leads to a large percentage of the book being opinion--and, therefore, subjective. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Sue | 4/27/2013

    " It was interesting to learn about the other Hemingses. I did not know that Jefferson's first wife, Martha, was a half-sister to Sally Hemmings. They had the same father, but different mothers. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Risa | 1/4/2013

    " It was a long but great read. It discusses the complicated issues of slavery in Virginia and the USA at the time of Jefferson. Gordon-Reed repeats herself a lot throughout the book in order to emphasize Jefferson's and Sally Hemings' and their children's secret lives together. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Rabia Mead | 12/21/2012

    " a very scholarly look at the deeply painful reality of slavery ... how Thomas Jefferson championed liberty..as long as you were white and male... "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Gail | 12/12/2012

    " Speculative certainly, but, more importantly, deeply sympathetic, and imbued with a true understanding of human emotion and family relationships. She makes not just Sally Hemings, but also Thomas Jefferson, truly human. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John | 9/13/2011

    " Enlightening account of Thomas Jefferson's years long affair with his slave "wife." The life of Sally Hemings and TJ in France was a revelation. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Marti | 8/4/2011

    " This is the history of one of the slave families that were owned by Thomas Jefferson. With Sally Hemingses, his slave mistress, he had 5 children. It is a very long book, infact I had to keep renewing it at the library, but I kept at it becasue I found it so interesting. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mbhatia | 7/2/2011

    " Although I found the subject matter interesting, it was repetitive throughout. With a skilled editor, it could have been reduced in length without detracting from the story. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bonnie | 6/23/2011

    " Beautifully researched and written account of Thomas Jefferson's relationship with the Hemings family who were slaves on his property. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Nicole | 6/22/2011

    " Not only a history of Jefferson and the Hemmings families, but a very clear picture of life at that time. However, there is a huge amount of repetition. This is a VERY long book and could have been half it's size. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jossalyn | 4/12/2011

    " for westridge alum book club. had excellent discussion of the book. very interesting topic and story i didnt previously know. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 3/31/2011

    " I am in the process of listening to this book on CD. It's amazing, the history is so detailed. I'm finished! I back off my raiting to a "I liked" because there was so much detail it was hard to fallow at times. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mereastew | 3/29/2011

    " A long and sometimes very hard read,but so worth it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lauryn | 3/13/2011

    " One of the most fascinating books I have read in college. It was worth my while to read every page, and I very much enjoyed having the opportunity to talk with the author in my Introductory Seminar. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Nicole | 3/7/2011

    " An amazing books that detailed the relationships between slaves and their owners. A history book that was from a different perspective, very enjoyable. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gail | 2/19/2011

    " An eye-opener on the life and personality of Thomas Jefferson. "

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About the Narrator

Karen White is a classically trained actress who has been recording audiobooks since 1999. An Audie Award finalist, she has earned numerous AudioFile Earphones Awards. Her reading of The Hemingses of Monticello by Annette Gordon-Reed was named one of AudioFile’s Best Audiobooks of 2009.