The first of five volumes in a full-length biography of Jefferson.
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.Read more ›
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.