Annette Gordon-Reed : Ed Morgan calls her one of the best historians of her generation





The Hemingses of Monticello is a brilliant book. It marks the author as one of the most astute, insightful, and forthright historians of this generation. Not least of Annette Gordon-Reed’s achievements is her ability to bring fresh perspectives to the life of a man whose personality and character have been scrutinized, explained, and justified by a host of historians and biographers. They have struggled to illuminate, and sometimes to gloss over, the dark places in his life. Like many upright public figures who know they are pure and their enemies vile, he was capable of deviousness and treachery. He instigated the savage attacks by the anti-Federalist National Gazette editor Philip Freneau on John Adams, once his fast friend, and was flummoxed rather than ashamed at being caught out paying Freneau to be his mouthpiece. Such actions gave rise in Jefferson biographies to characterizations like “enigma” and “sphinx.”


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