Sunday, April 13, 2014

Review: Thomas Jefferson's Enlightenment: Paris 1785 by James C. Thompson

Title: Thomas Jefferson's Enlightenment: Paris 1785
Author: James C. Thompson
Format: Paperback
Publisher: Commonwealth Books
Publish Date: February 18, 2014
Source: I received a copy from PR; however, this did not affect my review.

What's the Story?:

From "As portrayed in this colorful book, Thomas Jefferson is not quite the monument that readers learn about in school. In a new kind of nonfiction narrative, Jefferson's transformation from frontiersman and political loner into cosmopolitan political leader is taught by submerging the reader in the things that Jefferson did and saw on his travels to Paris in 1785. Featuring 168 museum-quality reproductions of period maps, Parisian scenes, and portraits of the lumieres who welcomed the untraveled American into the salons of prerevolutionary Paris, readers accompany Pierre Cabanis and his aspiring protégé to public gardens, the theatre, salons, the grain exchange, and along the bustling, stinking thoroughfares of the French capital. They accompany Jefferson as he settles into the most elegant and debauched society in the world. Because they are with Jefferson as Cabanis instructs him on the French concept of Progress, they understand how Jefferson became its agent and how his new vision of himself and his role in the world prepared the Father of the Enlightenment in America for the political contest he entered when he returned home."

My Two Cents:

According to my calendar, today just happens to be Thomas Jefferson's birthday so it's fortunate that I'm writing this review today. Thomas Jefferson is one of my favorite Presidents to read about. He had such an absolutely fascinating life and I really appreciated the ability to see a different side of him through this book. This particular book focuses on Jefferson's time in Paris, which is a time period that really influenced his way of thinking.

This book is full of great history and fascinating pictures. This book makes for really accessible history for both those that read a lot of history and those that do not. While this book will probably appeal most to history lovers but those that just want to casually learn a little bit about Jefferson will appreciate this book as well. 

I really like when you can learn something new about a favorite subject. This book definitely fill that bill for me! You get to see what Jefferson saw in the great city of Paris from his point of view. We get to learn about how the city and his experiences there affected his very philosophy. It was so interesting to see what a big difference this time period had in his life. There is so much information and different things in this book that it sometimes verges on information overload but overall, it is a very good history. Overall, I really enjoyed this book.



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