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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.

39 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. 5 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. 5 out of 5

    George P.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Jon Merkling

  5. 4 out of 5

    David Pinto

  6. 4 out of 5

    Kevin Prewitt

  7. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Sawyer

  8. 4 out of 5

    John DeCristoforo

  9. 5 out of 5

    Zachary

  10. 4 out of 5

    Chris Partyka

  11. 4 out of 5

    Scriptor Ignotus

  12. 5 out of 5

    Alex Riedel

  13. 4 out of 5

    Jordan

  14. 4 out of 5

    Mike Gibbons

  15. 4 out of 5

    Peyton

  16. 5 out of 5

    Darcy

  17. 5 out of 5

    Juan J.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Terry

  19. 5 out of 5

    Kathy West

  20. 5 out of 5

    Elizabeth Schaefer Clark

  21. 4 out of 5

    Will Dole

  22. 5 out of 5

    Austin Nicholson

  23. 4 out of 5

    Richard

  24. 5 out of 5

    Gregg Fox

  25. 5 out of 5

    David Dunlap

  26. 4 out of 5

    Paul Elliott

  27. 4 out of 5

    Jaimie

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ryan Raburn

  29. 4 out of 5

    Bradley Allen

  30. 5 out of 5

    Parker

  31. 5 out of 5

    Tim Michiemo

  32. 4 out of 5

    Sherri

  33. 4 out of 5

    Adam Thomas

  34. 4 out of 5

    Bryan Weynand

  35. 4 out of 5

    Josh

  36. 5 out of 5

    Josh

  37. 5 out of 5

    Benjamin

  38. 5 out of 5

    Ean Snell

  39. 4 out of 5

    Wagner Floriani

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