You know him well, by reputation. Every American carries our third President's bas-relief profile in pocket or purse. There's even a picture of his house on the reverse of that same nickel. You've seen him chiseled in stone on a mountain and cast in bronze to heroic measure. He is monumental, semi-mythical.
But what was Thomas Jefferson like, off his pedestal, alive, human? The man whom author Page Smith has found in this perceptive biography is someone you can envision at eye level, even get to know. He is real: tall, freckled, a bit rumpled, humorless, sensitive.
Jefferson was an artist -- with words, with architecture, with ideas. Jefferson was not a politician, yet he became President. Jefferson inherited large estates and many slaves, but stayed in debt most of his life. His star-crossed relations with the women in his life, from his mother to "Dashing Sally," his lovely slave and reputed mistress, are often as awkward as any teenager's.
Once you have met Thomas Jefferson the man, Thomas Jefferson the American hero and legend becomes all the more impressive.