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Jefferson the Virginian - Volume I [Hardcover]

Dumas Malone
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
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Book Description

Jan. 30 1948 Jefferson & His Time (Little Brown & Company) (Book 1)
The first of five volumes in a full-length biography of Jefferson.

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First Sentence
THOMAS JEFFERSON was born in a simple wooden house in what is now Albemarle County, Virginia. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most helpful customer reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the hallmarks of American scholarship Dec 24 2002
What can be said about this monument to Jefferson scholarship? I am sure that somewhere in universities around the United States there are "scholar squirrels who want to put down this invaluable resource in Jefferson studies. It is always the way that mice attempt to gnaw at lions. This is not a perfect work (and my remarks refer to all of the books in the series as a whole), there are somethings, namely Sally Hemmings references which are wrong and will not sit well with American 21st century mores. There is the issue of slavery which was handled much differently 50 years ago than it is now.
Jefferson is not worthy of our interest because of Sally Hemmings and because he kept slaves. Jefferson is great because of the Declaration of Independence and his fight for the rights of man. While it may have been hypocritical to preach liberty and keep slaves, it is doubtful that slavery ever would have been abolished if Jefferson had never gained the prominence that he did. This book and the others that follow show why we should continue to honor the public man even though his private side may have been wanting.
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5.0 out of 5 stars At the Threshold of Greatness Oct. 5 2002
Malone, once called "the greatest Jeffersonian of them all", originally conceived this biography in four volumes. By the time he published the last book in 1982, at age 89, it had grown to six volumes. It remains the standard life of Jefferson, an indelible and important portrait of a great man, flaws and all, by a great scholar.
JEFFERSON THE VIRGINIAN begins things with Jefferson's birth into a family of much distinction. His father Peter was a noted surveyor and a man of inordinate physical strength who nevertheless died fairly young (in his fifties). The book covers Jefferon's education at William and Mary (at a time when formal education was not a widespread thing, even among the gentry), his law practice, his beginning the construction of Monticello (which would preoccupy him right up until the time of his death), his terms in the Virginia House of Burgesses (one of which was served after his governorship), his writing of the Declaration of Independence (his initial version, a scathing indictment of King George, had to be toned down by his compatriots), and his controversial governorship (in which he sustained much of the blame for the British army's inroads into the Old Dominion state). It ends with his appointment as an American ambassador to France.
Obviously this is no primer on Jefferson. Malone spares no detail. His prose is fastidious, elegant, and easy to read, although you may find yourself putting the book down from time to time to absorb what you have just read. Overall, Jefferson emerges here as a man naturally scholarly and reclusive, content to build his home, pursue his studies, and tend to his family, who is pushed into action by the obligations of his caste and by his own fervent patriotism.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Jefferson: The Virginian April 16 2002
Jefferson: The Virginian by Dumas Malone is a masterful work on Thomas Jefferson's early years, from birth to being appointed as an ambassador to France.
This work is one of the first comprehensive biographies of Jefferson's life. This is the first of six in the complete set. Malone is a distinguished historian so you will read about Jefferson's ancestry, along with Jefferson's youth, education, legal career, his marriage, the construction of Monticello. Not that was enough for one man's life, but we see the writing of the Declaration of Independence and Jefferson's work on the "Notes on Virginia."
We get an insight as to how Jefferson conducted his highly successful legislative career and his governorship. But what we do NOT see is the soul of Jefferson... the man, the human being. We get facts and more facts about a very complex individual and a monumental man. But the richness of the breath of life is left out.
Nonetheless, the book is a very scholarly work, one of the first to complete a comphensive work on a mulitfarious man. I enjoyed reading this volume for its historical importance and significance. This volume lays the ground work on which all of the other volumes set.
This work being well documented is a good start into reading about the life and times of Thomas Jefferson. One fact the comes through loud and clear... Jefferson is a Virginian foremost and always... there is no mistaking that fact.
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5.0 out of 5 stars This is a wonderful set of volumes March 9 1999
By A Customer
I have to say that Dumas Malone's 5 volumes is one of the best works of nonfiction about US history I have ever read. Malone was a great stylist -- which is to say his sentences are beautifully crafted -- but also well-organized, good at presenting hypotheses & supporting argumentation, without swallowing the reader up in the arguments. And he knows the period & the other personalities extremely well. Since the books were written pretty long ago, starting in the 1940s, they are missing some of the recent, very good "revisionism" that has come along. To supplement this magnificent work, then, I would recommend the Joseph Ellis book and the Annette Gordon Reed book. The Ellis book is a sort of psychobiography that helps to show the internal contradictions in the man's thought. Jefferson was a more complex man than many of our founding fathers and later leaders, more intellectual & more self-deluded ... something that Ellis shows well. Ellis also is able to bring out some aspects of Jefferson's personality so you feel like you know him better, know him more personally, than Malone was able to do. Of course, the Reed book brings forth the incontrovertable evidence (I think) of Jefferson's relationship with Sally Hemings, indeed the high probability that he fathered 5 kids by her and must have had more than just a purely sexual relationship with her, that is absent really from both Malone & Ellis. Read all three of these works. But start with Malone. It's well worth reading all of the volumes in the set.
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Most recent customer reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars Detailed account
VERY detailed account of Jefferson during the his life in Virginia. Although it had in depth description of the political structure, the people, and Jefferson's involvement in the... Read more
Published on Oct. 30 2003 by Cedar
5.0 out of 5 stars An insightful look at Thomas Jefferson, the Virginian...
This wonderful piece of biographical scholarship, profiles the life of Thomas Jefferson. Jefferson was one of America's most prolific statesmen and a talented jack-of-all-trades... Read more
Published on Oct. 8 2001 by R. Setliff
5.0 out of 5 stars Important but flawed
Though his review has not been well-received, reviewer Douglas McIntyre has it about right. All those who wish to study Jefferson ought to begin with Malone yet this book... Read more
Published on Aug. 9 2000 by Derek Leaberry
4.0 out of 5 stars A Great Work of Scholarship Flawed by Hero-worship
Dumas Malone's massive biography of Thomas Jefferson remains one of the landmark biographies ever written. As a work of scholarship, it is truely fantastic. Read more
Published on Feb. 14 2000 by Douglas McIntyre
5.0 out of 5 stars Essential book on Jefferson
I enjoyed this book a lot. I agree with the reviewer that said it was one-sided, but I've never read a Jefferson book that wasn't. Read more
Published on Jan. 7 2000 by Leon M. Bodevin
5.0 out of 5 stars Magisterial
Malone's biography of Jefferson is one of the greatest works of historical scholarship ever written. Read more
Published on Nov. 24 1999 by eunomius
5.0 out of 5 stars Unbelievably Comprehensive and Still Incomplete
The dedication of one man (Malone) to the life of another (Jefferson) speaks volumes (at least 6, to be precise) as to the character of both men. Read more
Published on May 3 1999 by Mark T. Peterson
4.0 out of 5 stars A Labor of Love
What would inspire (possess?) a man to devote his entire career to the study and interpretation of another man? Love. Read more
Published on April 30 1999
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent, if one sided.
Mr. Malone's description of Mr. Jefferson is detailed and encompassing. It is well organized and brings the reader in touch with this American Icon and his times. Read more
Published on Aug. 27 1998
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