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Thomas Jefferson: President and Philosopher

Thomas Jefferson: President and Philosopher

by Jon Meacham

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In this special illustrated edition of the #1 New York Times bestselling Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jon Meacham, young readers will learn about the life and political philosophy of one of our Founding Fathers.
Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States. He was one of the


In this special illustrated edition of the #1 New York Times bestselling Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power by Pulitzer Prize–winning author Jon Meacham, young readers will learn about the life and political philosophy of one of our Founding Fathers.
Thomas Jefferson was the third president of the United States. He was one of the authors of the Declaration of Independence. But he was also a lawyer and an ambassador, an inventor and a scientist. He had a wide range of interests and hobbies, but his consuming interest was the survival and success of the United States.
This book contains a note from Meacham and over 100 archival illustrations, as well as sections throughout the text about subjects such as the Boston Tea Party, the Library of Congress, and Napoléon Bonaparte. Additional materials include a time line; a family tree; a Who’s Who in Jefferson’s world; sections on Jefferson’s original writings and correspondence, “inventions,” interests, places in Jefferson’s world, finding Jefferson in the United States today, additional reading, organizations, and websites; notes; a bibliography; and an index. This adaptation, ideal for those interested in American presidents, biographies, and the founding of the American republic, is an excellent example of informational writing and reflects Meacham’s extensive research using primary source material.

Editorial Reviews

Jon Meacham, the author of this book, is a revered Pulitzer Prize-winning historian. This special illustrated adaptation of a book that was lauded as "probably the best single-volume biography of Jefferson" is carefully attuned to a younger audience. Thomas Jefferson: President & Philosopher contains more than 100 archival illustrations; a timeline; a family tree; a who's who; a bibliography; a list of additional reading, organizations, and websites. In brief sections, it describes not only Jefferson's life, but also concurrent events in our nation's history.

Children's Literature - Peg Glisson
This adaptation of Meacham’s acclaimed biography of Thomas Jefferson presents a chronological look at Jefferson’s life—and through that, information about his political and philosophical views. Readers learn about his youth and early responsibilities, his long-lasting friendships and interactions with people very influential in America’s history, his love of family, books, science, and learning, his political thinking and leadership, his insecurities, his attitudes about slavery, and his long service to his colony, state, and then his country. Numerous quotes taken from his letters and writings are interspersed throughout the text and highlight his idealism and his pragmatism, themes introduced in the prologue and summarized in the epilogue. A variety of types of illustration, including prints, period paintings, maps, and photos, add to an understanding of the man, his time, and those places he held dear. The lack of color reproduction does diminish their appeal, however. Thomson has reduced Meacham’s adult biography by more than half, keeping it informative but not thoroughly engaging. The advanced reading copy, that this was reviewed from, lists back matter about Jefferson’s World, including a family tree, timeline, who’s who, facts about the Revolutionary War, Jefferson’s inventions, and Monticello; but they were not actually included in the review copy. Additional reading and websites are also to be included, as are source notes, a bibliography, and illustration credits; all of these not only provide information, but also model for young adults what good research entails. This will be extremely useful for assignments and history buffs. Reviewer: Peg Glisson; Ages 12 up.
School Library Journal
Gr 5–8—Thomas Jefferson was an idealist who was drawn to the cause of individual rights and a pragmatist who saw the need to take practical steps to get things done. That interpretation frames this adaptation for young readers of Meacham's Pulitzer Prize–winning adult biography, Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power (Random, 2013). Readers will see this mix of idealism and pragmatism again and again during Jefferson's career. Meacham first introduces these themes in the prologue, develops them throughout the book, and later reinforces them in the epilogue, making the book useful for introducing Common Core State Standard concepts, such as determining the author's point of view and the reasons and evidence provided to support it. The biographer presents important issues in American history, particularly those surrounding the beginnings of our nation, and a strong discussion of Jefferson's failure to deal with the issue of slavery. Students will also learn about significant people Jefferson encountered during his career: George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, John Adams, and James Madison. The single shortcoming of this informative adaptation is its inability to capture Meacham's nuanced style and appealing storytelling. In reducing his 800-page biography by more than half, this adaptation has reduced his engaging narrative to shorter, often choppy, and much simpler sentences. Compare this title with Milton Meltzer's livelier account, Thomas Jefferson: The Revolutionary Aristocrat (Franklin Watts, 1991), which has stood the test of time well. Nevertheless, readers will be rewarded with a coherent, well-supported explanation of a complex man.—Myra Zarnowski, City University of New York
Kirkus Reviews
In this adaptation for young readers of his Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power (2012), Meacham overviews Jefferson's life, times and ideas. The subtitle suggests a focus on Jefferson's political philosophy and two-term presidency, but Meacham instead attempts to touch upon all aspects of his full and rich life. Less than a quarter of the text covers Jefferson's eight years as president. His republican political philosophy is discussed and contrasted with Federalism, but there is no discussion of the philosophers and ideas that influenced his thinking, nor is there mention of Jefferson's thoughts on religion, radical and controversial for their time. Meacham devotes considerable attention to Jefferson's conflicting views about slavery. Despite being a lifelong slave owner and father of children by his enslaved mistress, Sally Hemings, Jefferson considered slavery immoral and doomed as a continuing institution. Meacham suggests Jefferson's unwillingness to confront the problem of slavery politically was his greatest failure as a statesman. "When it came to slavery," Meacham writes, "Jefferson, always curious and eager to explore new ideas, did what he almost never did: he gave up." Choosing to cover every aspect of Jefferson's life without exploring any particular part in depth makes this an engaging, informative introduction but does not make it stand out among many others that do the same. (extensive backmatter, not seen for review) (Biography. 10-16)

Product Details

Random House Children's Books
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Sales rank:
Product dimensions:
7.40(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.30(d)
1020L (what's this?)
Age Range:
10 - 14 Years

Meet the Author

Jon Meacham is the author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power and American Lion, his Pulitzer Prize–winning biography of Andrew Jackson, as well as the bestsellers American Gospel and Franklin and Winston. He is an executive editor at Random House. He and his wife live with their three children in Nashville and Sewanee, Tennessee.

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