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Thomas Jefferson: A Biography of Spirit and Flesh

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Thomas Jefferson was arguably the most brilliant and inspiring political writer in American history. But the ethical realities of his personal life and political career did not live up to his soaring rhetoric. Indeed, three tensions defined Jefferson’s moral life: democracy versus slavery, republican virtue versus dissolute consumption, and veneration for Jesus versus radi Thomas Jefferson was arguably the most brilliant and inspiring political writer in American history. But the ethical realities of his personal life and political career did not live up to his soaring rhetoric. Indeed, three tensions defined Jefferson’s moral life: democracy versus slavery, republican virtue versus dissolute consumption, and veneration for Jesus versus radical skepticism.   In this book Thomas S. Kidd tells the story of Jefferson’s ethical life through the lens of these tensions, including an unapologetic focus on the issue where Jefferson’s idealistic philosophy and lived reality clashed most obviously: his sexual relationship with his enslaved woman Sally Hemings. In doing so, he offers a unique perspective on one of American history’s most studied figures.


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Thomas Jefferson was arguably the most brilliant and inspiring political writer in American history. But the ethical realities of his personal life and political career did not live up to his soaring rhetoric. Indeed, three tensions defined Jefferson’s moral life: democracy versus slavery, republican virtue versus dissolute consumption, and veneration for Jesus versus radi Thomas Jefferson was arguably the most brilliant and inspiring political writer in American history. But the ethical realities of his personal life and political career did not live up to his soaring rhetoric. Indeed, three tensions defined Jefferson’s moral life: democracy versus slavery, republican virtue versus dissolute consumption, and veneration for Jesus versus radical skepticism.   In this book Thomas S. Kidd tells the story of Jefferson’s ethical life through the lens of these tensions, including an unapologetic focus on the issue where Jefferson’s idealistic philosophy and lived reality clashed most obviously: his sexual relationship with his enslaved woman Sally Hemings. In doing so, he offers a unique perspective on one of American history’s most studied figures.

44 review for Thomas Jefferson: A Biography of Spirit and Flesh

  1. 5 out of 5

    Glenn Wishnew III

    Fascinating dude who lived a bougee, elite and full life. Nevertheless, that life ended in financial, political, and spiritual ruin.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sam Strickland

    Kidd skillfully charts a course through Jefferson's "moral universe" as he also goes over the major events of Jefferson's life. I was intrigued to learn about Jefferson's habits of wine consumption and his attachment to honor in connection to his habits of hospitality. In short, this is an ambivalent book about a brilliant but highly flawed and double-minded man. Kidd skillfully charts a course through Jefferson's "moral universe" as he also goes over the major events of Jefferson's life. I was intrigued to learn about Jefferson's habits of wine consumption and his attachment to honor in connection to his habits of hospitality. In short, this is an ambivalent book about a brilliant but highly flawed and double-minded man.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Michael Mosier

  4. 4 out of 5

    George P.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Jimmie

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jon Merkling

  7. 5 out of 5

    David Pinto

  8. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Prewitt

  9. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Sawyer

  10. 4 out of 5

    John DeCristoforo

  11. 4 out of 5

    Donn Headley

  12. 4 out of 5

    Zachary

  13. 4 out of 5

    Chris Partyka

  14. 5 out of 5

    Richard

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

  16. 5 out of 5

    Scriptor Ignotus

  17. 5 out of 5

    Alex Riedel

  18. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

  19. 5 out of 5

    Mike Gibbons

  20. 4 out of 5

    Peyton

  21. 4 out of 5

    Darcy

  22. 5 out of 5

    Juan J.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Terry

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kathy West

  25. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Schaefer Clark

  26. 5 out of 5

    Will Dole

  27. 4 out of 5

    Austin Nicholson

  28. 4 out of 5

    Richard

  29. 5 out of 5

    Gregg Fox

  30. 5 out of 5

    David Dunlap

  31. 5 out of 5

    Paul Elliott

  32. 5 out of 5

    Jaimie

  33. 4 out of 5

    Ryan Raburn

  34. 5 out of 5

    Bradley Allen

  35. 5 out of 5

    Parker

  36. 5 out of 5

    Tim Michiemo

  37. 4 out of 5

    Sherri

  38. 4 out of 5

    Adam Thomas

  39. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Weynand

  40. 4 out of 5

    Josh

  41. 4 out of 5

    Josh

  42. 4 out of 5

    Benjamin

  43. 4 out of 5

    Ean Snell

  44. 4 out of 5

    Wagner Floriani

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