The Real Thomas Jefferson

By Andrew M. Allison, with M. Richard Maxfield, K. DeLynn Cook, & W. Cleon Skousen

Synopsis: A biography of Thomas Jefferson, this book tells his story using many of Jefferson's own words and keeping away from speculative interpretations into his character. It tells the story of the man as he really was and how he was known by those close to him. The book is split in two parts: the first part is the biography, and the second part is a comprehensive collection of the teachings of Thomas Jefferson, arranged by topic. Andrew Allison wrote the first portion and the other three authors compiled the second portion.

Strong Points: The book is excellent for presenting who Thomas Jefferson was in actual fact - a man of unimpeachable integrity, a genius, and a fountain of wisdom. It addresses the many controversial matters brought up by critics, such as the issue of slavery, his alleged relations with slave Sally Hemmings, his alleged affair with Maria Cosway, the nature of his religious views, and other calumnies perpetuated by the forces that seek to denigrate the Founders. The reader will be astonished at the sheer talent of the man: a scholar, a statesman, a lawyer, a farmer, a musician, an architect, a scientist, an inventor - he had more interests and capabilities than a score of men combined. The reader will also come away well-versed in the thought produced by one of the greatest minds ever to walk God's green earth, as the second part of the book has arranged Jefferson's teachings on a variety of topics. It is almost as though the reader is getting two important books for the price of one.

Weak Points: A clearer explanation of the evolution of Jefferson's religious beliefs in the main body of the text would have been better. Instead, the main biography discusses his adherence to Christianity, but gives no mention of his non-acceptance of the status of Jesus as Deity earlier in his life. One has to read further in the second half of the book, with his teachings, to find that it was only later in his life that he accepted the Deified nature of Christ.

Interesting: 4/5

Must Read: 3/5

Overall: 4/5

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