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Jefferson the Virginian - Volume I Hardcover – Jul 14 2000

4.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 484 pages
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company (Jan. 30 1948)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316544744
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316544740
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 3.3 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 748 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars 15 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,269,143 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Review

Prodigiously researched and felicitously written, Dumas Malone's multi-volume Jefferson and His Time is one of the great biographies of the 20th century.--New Republic

Malone is the giant on whose shoulders every subsequent scholar of Jefferson stands, and his work remains seminal in shaping our understanding of who Jefferson was. Both from a purely scholarly standpoint and outside the groves of academe, Malone's biography of Jefferson is simply a great read. There is a whole new generation of Jefferson lovers who will want to own this set.--Joseph J. Ellis, National Book Award winning author of "American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson"" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

At the time of his death late in 1986, Dumas Malone was acknowledged as the greatest scholar ever to study and write a biography of Thomas Jefferson. Born in Mississippi, educated at Emory and Yale, and a Marine Corps veteran of World War I, Malone was editor-in-chief of the scholarly"Dictionary of American Biography" and wrote a 15,000-word life of Jefferson as part of his editorial duties. From that first scholarly interest, Malone went on to write (between 1948 and 1981) a six-volume work, "Jefferson and His Time", that will long stand as the definitive biography of our third president.

Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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