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Not only a biography of Sally Hemings, who bore 7 children by Thomas Jefferson, this book details the extraordinary lives of her ancestors and descendants also. Winner of the National Book award, and the Pulitzer Prize for History.
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.
A number-one Washington Post bestseller, this memoir is the unforgettable story of a life and its times. As a student in Atlanta, Vernon Jordan had a summer job driving a white banker around town. During the man's afternoon naps, 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, long-time civil rights leader, adviser and close friend to presidents and business leaders, remembers the sweeping struggles, changes, and dangers of black life during the civil rights revolution. After attending a predominantly white college in the Midwest and graduating from Howard University Law School, Jordan dedicated himself to the civil rights movement. He led the drive to register black voters in the South and was president of the National Urban League, one of the great civil rights organizations of the era, where he was instrumental in integrating American businesses and providing economic and social support to the expanding black middle class. He survived a white racist's assassination attempt and later became a pillar of America's legal, corporate, and political worlds. But Jordan's life was shaped in his early years, and this book is also a moving testament to the family whose support and courage provided the framework for his achievements. Vernon Can Read! chronicles a life of courage, pride, sacrifice, style, and accomplishment.
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