Friday, February 4, 2011

All the President's Women—THE WOMEN JEFFERSON LOVED by Virginia Scharff

THE WOMEN JEFFERSON LOVED by Virginia ScharffThroughout his life, Thomas Jefferson constructed a seemingly impenetrable wall between his public legacy and his private life, a tradition upheld by his family and his biographers. Now, in The Women Jefferson Loved, Virginia Scharff, breaks down the barrier between these two spheres to offer an intriguing new portrait of this complicated and influential figure, seen through the lives of the most important people in his life: the women he loved.

For the first time in one volume, Scharff brings together the stories of these diverse women separated by race but related by blood, including his mother Jane Randolph; his wife, Martha, and her half sister; Sally Hemings, his slave mistress; his daughters; and his granddaughters. “Their lives, their Revolutions, their vulnerabilities shaped the choices Jefferson made, from the selection of words and ideas in his Declaration, to the endless building of his mountaintop mansion, to the vision of a great agrarian nation that powered his Louisiana Purchase,” Scharff writes. Based on a wealth of sources including family letters, and written with empathy and great insight,
The Women Jefferson Loved is a welcome new look at this legendary American that offers a fresh twist on American history itself.

Virginia Scharff is Professor of History and Director of the Center for the Southwest at the University of New Mexico and the author of several scholarly works and textbooks. She was a Beinecke Research Fellow in the Lamar Center for Frontiers and Borders at Yale University, and is Women of the West Chair at the Autry National Center in Los Angeles, and a Fellow of the Society of American Historians. She has also served as president of the Western History Association.

“Scharff's approach to Jefferson allows her to paint a portrait of a man who was passionate, vulnerable and charming but also hypocritical, difficult and demanding. The Women Jefferson Loved adds to our understanding of one of the most fascinating personalities of the American Revolution.
”—New York Times Book Review

“A smart, eye-opening, vividly written saga of Monticello. It's an indispensable portrait of Thomas Jefferson like none other. Highly recommended!
Douglas Brinkley, Professor of History, Rice University, and author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America

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