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Extended Audio Sample Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power, by Jon Meacham Click for printable size audiobook cover
4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 4.00 (2,497 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Jon Meacham Narrator: Edward Herrmann, Jon Meacham Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date:
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Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power was written by Jon Meacham, also the author of American Lion, and Franklin and Winston.

Thomas Jefferson, a man of contradictions, was both thirsty for power and hungry for progress. A philosopher and a politician, we see in this vivid portrait, the political genius which allowed him the deft ability to compromise and improvise. Though many Americans think of him as the embodiment of noble ideals, Meacham reveals that we was a pragmatist in politics more than a moral philosopher. Just how he steered his drive for power is the lens through which Meacham looks at Jefferson.

His sensuality and his passion buttress his ideals of individual liberty and civil autonomy. Exploring Jefferson's founding role in the Louisiana Purchase, the Lewis and Clark expedition, and of the settling of the west, we see the American ideal of the frontier and rugged individualism brought to life. Through his political maneuvering in Paris, to Philadelphia and New York, Jefferson led the nation through divisive partisanship and culture wars all during a time of economic upheaval and threats from beyond. He is perhaps the embodiment of our nations struggle to lead and achieve greatness in a turbulent and confounding world.

Jon Meacham, a Pulitzer Prize winning author, and a member on the Council on Foreign Relations, he is also the executive editor and vice president at Random House publications. He was contributing editor to Time, editor-at-large of WNET, and editor-in-chief of Newsweek. Social issues in politics, history and religion are popular in his commentary. He has served on the board of trustees for multiple universities, has written for the New York Times, NYT Book Review, the Washington Post, and LA Times Book Review. He and his wife and three children live in New York City and Sewanee, Tennessee (home of the University of the South).

In this magnificent biography, the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of American Lion and Franklin and Winston brings vividly to life an extraordinary man and his remarkable times. Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power gives us Jefferson the politician and president, a great and complex human being forever engaged in the wars of his era. Philosophers think; politicians maneuver. Jefferson’s genius was that he was both and could do both, often simultaneously. Such is the art of power.

Thomas Jefferson hated confrontation, and yet his understanding of power and of human nature enabled him to move men and to marshal ideas, to learn from his mistakes, and to prevail. Passionate about many things—women, his family, books, science, architecture, gardens, friends, Monticello, and Paris—Jefferson loved America most, and he strove over and over again, despite fierce opposition, to realize his vision: the creation, survival, and success of popular government in America. Jon Meacham lets us see Jefferson’s world as Jefferson himself saw it, and to appreciate how Jefferson found the means to endure and win in the face of rife partisan division, economic uncertainty, and external threat. Drawing on archives in the United States, England, and France, as well as unpublished Jefferson presidential papers, Meacham presents Jefferson as the most successful political leader of the early republic, and perhaps in all of American history.

The father of the ideal of individual liberty, of the Louisiana Purchase, of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and of the settling of the West, Jefferson recognized the genius of humanity, and of the new nation, lay in the possibility of progress, of discovering the undiscovered and seeking the unknown. From the writing of the Declaration of Independence to elegant dinners in Paris and in the President’s House; from political maneuverings in the boardinghouses and legislative halls of Philadelphia and New York to the infant capital on the Potomac; from his complicated life at Monticello, his breathtaking house and plantation in Virginia, to the creation of the University of Virginia, Jefferson was central to the age. Here too is the personal Jefferson, a man of appetite, sensuality, and passion.

The Jefferson story resonates today not least because he led his nation through ferocious partisanship and cultural warfare amid economic change and external threats, and also because he embodies an eternal drama, the struggle of the leadership of a nation to achieve greatness in a difficult and confounding world.

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Quotes & Awards

  • “This terrific book allows us to see the political genius of Thomas Jefferson better than we have ever seen it before. In these endlessly fascinating pages, Jefferson emerges with such vitality that it seems as if he might still be alive today.”

    Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of Team of Rivals

  • “Meacham does an excellent job getting inside Jefferson’s head and his world…Meacham presents Jefferson’s life in a textured narrative that weaves together Jefferson’s well-traveled career.”

    USA Today

  • “A big, grand, absorbing exploration of not just Jefferson and his role in history but also Jefferson the man, humanized as never before.”

    Entertainment Weekly

  • “Fascinating and insightful…Many books have been written about Jefferson’s life, but few have created such a vivid portrait”

    Associated Press

  • “A Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer lauds the political genius of Thomas Jefferson…An outstanding biography that reveals an overlooked steeliness at Jefferson’s core that accounts for so much of his political success.”

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

  • A #1 New York Times Bestseller
  • A USA Today Bestseller
  • An Amazon Best Book of the Month for November 2012
  • Selected for the December 2012 Indie Next List
  • One of the 2012 Kirkus Reviews’ Best Books: Biographies
  • Winner of an AudioFile Earphones Award
  • A 2012 Washington Post Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2012 Entertainment Weekly Best Book for Nonfiction
  • A 2012 Seattle Times Best Book for Nonfiction
  • One of the 2012 New York Times Book Review 100 Notable Books for Nonfiction

Listener Opinions

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 by Jannie | 2/12/2014

    " Excellent look at one of the most influential persons in our history. Loved this book! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Mimi Hunter | 2/12/2014

    " I thought this book was a well written and an interesting look at Thomas Jefferson as a politician. The author clearly knows how to write for a general audience in a informative and accessible manner. That being said, I do think his admiration for Thomas Jefferson clearly shows in the way he has written about Jeffersons character. The author seems to gloss over some of the less nobel aspects of Jeffersons character, such as his status as a slaveowner and the complications in regard to his relationship with Sally Hemings who he likely fathered children with. These children were eventually freed but all of them spent time as slaves. There is also the matter hypocrosy which Jefferson is sometimes accused of, but Meacham dismisses. This is still a good book and I recommend it, but it should be said that it covers only some aspects of Jefferson and his life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 by Tony | 2/6/2014

    " An intricate, detailed look at the life of arguably one of the most complex, intelligent and conflicted men in history. Meacham gives each stage of Jefferson's long public life an indepth examination and he does not shy away from the dark aspects of Jefferson's life-his relationship with his slave, Sally Hemmings is fully explored and Jefferson's hypocritical decisions as it related to his own slaves. But the tremendous contributions of this extraordinary American as author of the Declaration of Independence, Ambassador to France, 1st Secretary of State, 2nd Vice President, and Third President with the Louisiana Purchase, his introduction of wine grapes and olive trees and many plant species to North America, design and initiation of fhe University of Virginia...all of this and more are shared in a wonderful prose style by the senior editor of Newsweek, Jon Meacham. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 by Christina Dudley | 2/5/2014

    " Poor Jefferson. I didn't have the stamina to finish this one after conquering the excellent TEAM OF RIVALS, and I'd read two other Jefferson books in recent years. However this is both comprehensive and well-written, and I learned new things. "

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