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The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

by Annette Gordon-Reed

Winner of the National Book Award and the Pulitzer Prize<P><P> This epic work tells the story of the Hemingses, whose close blood ties to our third president had been systematically expunged from American history until very recently. Now, historian and legal scholar Annette Gordon-Reed traces the Hemings family from its origins in Virginia in the 1700s to the family's dispersal after Jefferson's death in 1826.

"Most Blessed of the Patriarchs": Thomas Jefferson and the Empire of the Imagination

by Annette Gordon-Reed Peter S. Onuf

A groundbreaking work of history that explicates Thomas Jefferson's vision of himself, the American Revolution, Christianity, slavery, and race. Thomas Jefferson is often portrayed as a hopelessly enigmatic figure--a riddle--a man so riven with contradictions that he is almost impossible to know. Lauded as the most articulate voice of American freedom and equality, even as he held people--including his own family--in bondage, Jefferson is variably described as a hypocrite, an atheist, or a simple-minded proponent of limited government who expected all Americans to be farmers forever. Now, Annette Gordon-Reed teams up with America's leading Jefferson scholar, Peter S. Onuf, to present an absorbing and revealing character study that dispels the many clichés that have accrued over the years about our third president. Challenging the widely prevalent belief that Jefferson remains so opaque as to be unknowable, the authors--through their careful analysis, painstaking research, and vivid prose--create a portrait of Jefferson, as he might have painted himself, one "comprised of equal parts sun and shadow" (Jane Kamensky). Tracing Jefferson's philosophical development from youth to old age, the authors explore what they call the "empire" of Jefferson's imagination--an expansive state of mind born of his origins in a slave society, his intellectual influences, and the vaulting ambition that propelled him into public life as a modern avatar of the Enlightenment who, at the same time, likened himself to a figure of old--"the most blessed of the patriarchs." Indeed, Jefferson saw himself as a "patriarch," not just to his country and mountain-like home at Monticello but also to his family, the white half that he loved so publicly, as well as to the black side that he claimed to love, a contradiction of extraordinary historical magnitude. Divided into three sections, "Most Blessed of the Patriarchs" reveals a striking personal dimension to his life. Part I, "Patriarch," explores Jeffersons's origins in Virgina; Part II, " 'Traveller,' " covers his five-year sojourn to Paris; and Part III, "Enthusiast," delves insightfully into the Virginian's views on Christianity, slavery, and race. We see not just his ideas and vision of America but come to know him in an almost familial way, such as through the importance of music in his life. "Most Blessed of the Patriarchs" fundamentally challenges much of what we've come to accept about Jefferson, neither hypocrite nor saint, atheist nor fundamentalist. Gordon-Reed and Onuf, through a close reading of Jefferson's own words, reintroduce us all to our most influential founding father: a man more gifted than most, but complicated in just the ways we all are.

Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy

by Annette Gordon-Reed

When Annette Gordon-Reed's groundbreaking study was first published, rumors of Thomas Jefferson's sexual involvement with his slave Sally Hemings had circulated for two centuries. Among all aspects of Jefferson's renowned life, it was perhaps the most hotly contested topic. The publication of Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings intensified this debate by identifying glaring inconsistencies in many noted scholars' evaluations of the existing evidence. In this study, Gordon-Reed assembles a fascinating and convincing argument: not that the alleged thirty-eight-year liaison necessarily took place but rather that the evidence for its taking place has been denied a fair hearing.Friends of Jefferson sought to debunk the Hemings story as early as 1800, and most subsequent historians and biographers followed suit, finding the affair unthinkable based upon their view of Jefferson's life, character, and beliefs. Gordon-Reed responds to these critics by pointing out numerous errors and prejudices in their writings, ranging from inaccurate citations, to impossible time lines, to virtual exclusions of evidence--especially evidence concerning the Hemings family. She demonstrates how these scholars may have been misguided by their own biases and may even have tailored evidence to serve and preserve their opinions of Jefferson. This updated edition of the book also includes an afterword in which the author comments on the DNA study that provided further evidence of a Jefferson and Hemings liaison.Possessing both a layperson's unfettered curiosity and a lawyer's logical mind, Annette Gordon-Reed writes with a style and compassion that are irresistible. Each chapter revolves around a key figure in the Hemings drama, and the resulting portraits are engrossing and very personal. Gordon-Reed also brings a keen intuitive sense of the psychological complexities of human relationships--relationships that, in the real world, often develop regardless of status or race. The most compelling element of all, however, is her extensive and careful research, which often allows the evidence to speak for itself. Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy is the definitive look at a centuries-old question that should fascinate general readers and historians alike.

Vernon Can Read

by Annette Gordon-Reed Vernon Jordan

aFrom the civil rights revolution to the halls of power, the life story of a truly larger than life figure: Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. a"

Vernon Can Read!

by Annette Gordon-Reed Vernon Jordan

As a young college student in Atlanta, Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. had a summer job driving a white banker around town. During the man's post-luncheon siestas, Jordan passed the time reading books, a fact that astounded his boss. "Vernon can read!" the man exclaimed to his relatives. Nearly fifty years later, Vernon Jordan, now a senior executive at Lazard Freres, long-time civil rights leader, adviser and close friend to presidents and business leaders and one of the most charismatic figures in America, has written an unforgettable book about his life and times. The story of Vernon Jordan's life encompasses the sweeping struggles, changes, and dangers of African-American life in the civil rights revolution of the second half of the twentieth century.

Vernon Can Read!

by Annette Gordon-Reed Vernon Jordan

As a young college student in Atlanta, Vernon E. Jordan, Jr. had a summer job driving a white banker around town. During the man's post-luncheon siestas, Jordan passed the time reading books, a fact that astounded his boss. "Vernon can read!" the man exclaimed to his relatives. Nearly fifty years later, Vernon Jordan, now a senior executive at Lazard Freres, long-time civil rights leader, adviser and close friend to presidents and business leaders and one of the most charismatic figures in America, has written an unforgettable book about his life and times. The story of Vernon Jordan's life encompasses the sweeping struggles, changes, and dangers of African-American life in the civil rights revolution of the second half of the twentieth century.

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