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Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power Audiobook, by Jon Meacham Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Jon Meacham Narrator: Jon Meacham, Edward Herrmann Publisher: Penguin Random House Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: November 2012 ISBN: 9780739334621
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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).

NAMED ONE OF THE BEST BOOKS OF THE YEAR BY
The New York Times Book Review • The Washington Post • Entertainment Weekly • The Seattle Times • St. Louis Post-Dispatch • Bloomberg Businessweek

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 that the genius of humanity—and the genius 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.

Praise for Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
 
“This is probably the best single-volume biography of Jefferson ever written.”—Gordon S. Wood
 
“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

“[Meacham] captures who Jefferson was, not just as a statesman but as a man. . . . By the end of the book . . . the reader is likely to feel as if he is losing a dear friend. . . . [An] absorbing tale.”—The Christian Science Monitor

“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 Download and start listening now!

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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, New York Times bestselling author

  • A big, grand, absorbing exploration of not just Jefferson and his role in history but also Jefferson the man, humanized as never before. [Grade:] A-. Entertainment Weekly
  • [Meacham] does an excellent job getting inside Jefferson’s head and his world.

    USA Today
  • Meacham wisely has chosen to look at Jefferson through a political lens, assessing how he balanced his ideals with pragmatism while also bending others to his will…Meacham is nuanced and persuasive..

    New York Times Book Review
  • “Accomplishes something more impressive than dissecting Jefferson’s political skills by explaining his greatness, a different task from chronicling a life, though he does that too — and handsomely.”

    Washington Post
  • Fascinating and insightful … Many books have been written about Jefferson’s life, but few have created such a vivid portrait … Meacham immerses the reader in that period of history to explain Jefferson’s behavior during an era when the nation was as contradictory as he was … extraordinary … essential. Associated Press
  • Impeccably researched and footnoted … a model of clarity and explanation. Bloomberg
  • [Meacham] captures who Jefferson was, not just as a statesman but as a man … By the end of the book, as the 83-year-old Founding Father struggles to survive until the Fourth of July, 1826, the 50th anniversary of his masterful Declaration, the reader is likely to feel as if he is losing a dear friend … [an] absorbing tale. Christian Science Monitor
  • Absorbing . . . Jefferson emerges in the book not merely as a lofty thinker but as the ultimate political operator, a master pragmatist who got things done in times nearly as fractious as our own. Chicago Tribune
  • [Jefferson’s] life is a riveting story of our nation’s founding—an improbable turn of events that seems only in retrospect inevitable. Few are better suited to the telling than Jon Meacham. . . . Captivating. The Seattle Times
  • [Meacham] brings to bear his focused and sensitive scholarship, rich prose style … The Jefferson that emerges from these astute, dramatic pages is a figure worthy of continued study and appreciation … [a] very impressive book. Booklist (Starred Review)
  • An outstanding biography that reveals an overlooked steeliness at Jefferson’s core that accounts for so much of his political success. Kirkus Reviews
  • Jon Meacham understands Thomas Jefferson. With thorough and up-to-date research, elegant writing, deep insight, and an open mind, he brings Jefferson, the most talented politician of his generation—and one of the most talented in our nation’s history—into full view. It is no small task to capture so capacious a life in one volume. Meacham has succeeded, giving us a rich presentation of our third president’s life and times. This is an extraordinary work. Annette Gordon-Reed, author of The Hemingses of Monticello
     
  • 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
  • Jon Meacham resolves the bundle of contradictions that was Thomas Jefferson by probing his love of progress and thirst for power. Here was a man endlessly, artfully intent on making the world something it had not been before. A thrilling and affecting portrait of our first philosopher-politician. Stacy Schiff, author of Cleopatra: A Life
  • A true triumph. In addition to being a brilliant biography, this book is a guide to the use of power. Jon Meacham shows how Jefferson's deft ability to compromise and improvise made him a transformational leader. We think of Jefferson as the embodiment of noble ideals, as he was, but Meacham shows that he was a practical politician more than a moral theorist. The result is a fascinating look at how Jefferson wielded his driving desire for power and control. Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs
  • This is probably the best single-volume biography of Jefferson ever written; it is certainly the most readable. Gordon Wood, author of The Radicalism of the American Revolution
  • This is Jon Meacham's best book yet. Evocatively written and deeply researched, it sheds brilliant light on facets of Thomas Jefferson we haven't seen before, gives us original and unexpected new insights into his identity and character, and uses the irresistible story of this talented, manipulative, complicated man to bring us life lessons on universal subjects from family and friendship to politics and leadership. The Sage of Monticello made a considerable effort to turn his life into a mystery, but in a splendid match of biographer with subject, Meacham has cracked the Jefferson code. Michael Beschloss
  • “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
  • An iBooks bestseller in Biographies & Memoirs

Listener Reviews

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  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 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 Mimi | 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 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 Christina | 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. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Tim | 2/1/2014

    " This is my favorite Presidential biography. I cannot say that I respect everything about the man, his contradictions are many; but his impact on the nation is undeniable. I feel like I know TJ after reading this book, and cannot say that about the many others I have read. Although some sophisticated history reviewers may say that this just scratched the surface (Meacham basically says it would take volumes to deeply explore the man) for me it was perfect. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Peter | 1/29/2014

    " Very well researched book. Jefferson was a man of great contradictions. He had his successes and failures. Maybe his successes endured because, although he subscribed to certain principles, he didn't allow himself to be paralyzed by rigid political dogmas and, as he showed in his prolific correspondence with John Adams, he put people and personal friendships above all "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Genevieve | 1/28/2014

    " A bit long, but compelling. It is remarkable how much we have bastardized our vision of the founding fathers, until it is more of a reflection of ourselves than of them. They were indeed just men, brilliant, but men nonetheless. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Marcy | 1/28/2014

    " Biography is not my favorite literature, but Meacham did a good job of keeping my interest and I found Jefferson a complex personality. After having read a biography about Adams a few years ago, this was an excellent sequitor. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Avery | 1/19/2014

    " Easily the best book I've ever read. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 James | 12/30/2013

    " Meacham has written a readable, comprehensive (if not exhaustive)biography of the third American president. He emphasizes Jefferson's fear of monarchy, while blending an overview of both Jefferson's personal life and his political life. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jane | 12/26/2013

    " Very good biography of Thomas Jefferson, starting with his young adult years through his death. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Mary | 12/10/2013

    " Thomas Jefferson lived ahead of his times in thought and deed. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Rick | 11/2/2013

    " Absolutely fascinating ... and insightful ... Well-written and full of detail that makes the man come alive ... My only complaint is that it's maybe a bit too "egg-heady" ... but that's probably my fault, not the book's. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bob | 10/7/2013

    " Good work, but a little tedious at times. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Annette | 7/17/2013

    " Excellent book. Meacham did amazing research to give readers a detailed look into the life of Thomas Jefferson and the history of our country. The notes at the end were details truly worth reading. This should be a must read for our congress people and all presidents. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bloomfield | 5/25/2013

    " While admittedly not a detailed biography, it modernizes Jefferson and brings him fully up to date following the Sally Hemmings revelations. The color illustrations are excellent. I cannot recommend this highly enough. This is surely a National Book Award finalist. "

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

    " A bit of a slog to get through it but well worth it. Thoroughly researched and enlightening about the era in which Thomas Jefferson lived. Reminds one how fragile our Republic was during that period with a war against Britain as late as 1812. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Carrie | 2/1/2013

    " Outstanding! I predict another Pulitzer for author, Jon Meacham! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Dkovlak | 12/26/2012

    " This is an excellent book. I learned a lot about Jefferson and the times in which he lived. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Larry | 11/6/2012

    " Very comprehensive biography and history of that time frame. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andie | 10/27/2012

    " I had to read this for class but it wasn't a difficult book to read. It was very detailed and interesting. "

About the Author

Jon Meacham is a Pulitzer Prize–winning biographer and the author of several New York Times bestsellers, including three that have made their #1 bestsellers list. He is a contributing writer for the New York Times Book Review and a contributing editor of Time magazine.

About the Narrator

Edward Herrmann (1943–2014) was one of America’s top audiobook narrators. He won multiple Audie Awards and twenty-two Earphones Awards, and his narration of the King James version of the Bible remains a benchmark in the industry.