Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Book Review: "Thomas Jefferson" by R.B. Bernstein

This book (Kindle edition) about the third President of the United States, and author of the Declaration of Independence in 1776 is an excellent and enjoyable read about one of America's favourite icons - Thomas Jefferson. R.B. Bernstein has written a short (214 pages) account of Jefferson's long life that is an enjoyable read, though it does leave you wanting more.

Image link to Wikipedia.
Thomas Jefferson was many things - a patriot, planter, politician, ambassador, President, and slave owner. But he was also an interesting character who was a brilliant writer - not of books, but legislation and letters. He famously wrote in the Declaration of Independence:

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.

This from a guy who owned over 200 slaves!

Nevertheless, he was a man of his time - a Southerner who struggled with the slavery issue (he believed that it should be abolished and that free slaves should be deported). This bordered on hypocrisy, especially since there is compelling evidence (supported by Bernstein) that he fathered several children with his slave Sally Hemmings.

The book is short on detail - I'm sure that other books will have dissected his live in far more detail. But it is an excellent read that does not tax the mind too much (great for me). It is written in a popular history style and is just perfect for anyone wanting to read about Jefferson and get the key details of his life.


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