By Cheryl Harness
(National Geographic Society, Hardcover, 9780792264965, 43pp.)
Publication Date: October 2004
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In her sixth presidential biography for National Geographic, Cheryl Harness illuminates the many sides of Thomas Jefferson: scientist, lawyer, farmer, architect, diplomat, inventor, musician, philosopher, author of the Declaration of Independence, founder of the University of Virginia, and third president of the United States. Readers meet this extraordinary man of contradictions: a genius who proclaimed that "All men are created equal" and championed the rights of "Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness," while at the same time living a life that depended on the enforced labor of slaves.
Readers experience an eventful life lived largely in public service, yet also enjoy the personal warmth of this fascinating historical figure. The narrative examines the crucial role that the "sage of Monticello" played in shaping the ideals of freedom and self-government, which became the cornerstones of American democracy. The author's conversational storytelling, her richly detailed illustrations, and use of period maps bring to life the exciting times of Thomas Jefferson on every page. This appealing and insightful biography is an honest, well-balanced portrait of a complex and controversial American legend.
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