Named one of the Best Books of the Year by the San Francisco Chronicle
Finalist for the George Washington Prize
Finalist for the Library of Virginia Literary Award
A New York Times Book Review Editors’ Choice Selection
"An important book…[R]ichly rewarding. It is full of fascinating insights about Jefferson." —Gordon S. Wood, New York Review of Books
Hailed by critics and embraced by readers, "Most Blessed of the Patriarchs" is one of the richest and most insightful accounts of Thomas Jefferson in a generation. Following her Pulitzer Prize–winning The Hemingses of Monticello¸ Annette Gordon-Reed has teamed with Peter S. Onuf to present a provocative and absorbing character study, "a fresh and layered analysis" (New York Times Book Review) that reveals our third president as "a dynamic, complex and oftentimes contradictory human being" (Chicago Tribune). Gordon-Reed and Onuf fundamentally challenge much of what we thought we knew, and through their painstaking research and vivid prose create a portrait of Jefferson, as he might have painted himself, one "comprised of equal parts sun and shadow" (Jane Kamensky).
About the Author
Annette Gordon-Reed is the Carl M. Loeb University Professor at Harvard University. The author of Pulitzer Prize–winning The Hemingses of Monticello, she lives in New York and Cambridge.
Peter S. Onuf is the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation Professor Emeritus at the University of Virginia. He lives in Portland, Maine, and Virginia.
Ambitious…Gordon-Reed and Onuf rightly highlight Jefferson's ideas, words and charm, the strengths that brought him such success in his life and that have sustained his standing for centuries. — David O. Stewart - Washington Post
A fresh and layered analysis, one centered more on [Jefferson’s] interior life than his deeds for posterity…Gordon-Reed and Onuf are not the first to search for other ways into Jefferson’s private place, nor will they be the last. But they have provided a smart and useful map for those who are certain to follow. — Peter Baker - New York Times Book Review
Provocative…Gordon-Reed and Onuf employ their considerable historical and literary skills to collage an unconventional portrait of Jefferson…Few historians are as well suited to examine Jefferson in this manner…The Jefferson who emerges in these pages is a dynamic, complex and oftentimes contradictory human being. — Walton Muyumba - Chicago Tribune
In their search for understanding rather than for comfortable bromides, Gordon-Reed and Onuf exemplify a virtue that Jefferson admired, even though, in this case, it does not always tend to his advantage. — Matthew C. Simpson - New Republic
Given that Jefferson believed that no generation can have a rightful claim to govern another, it is fitting that Gordon-Reed and Onuf have given us a new and empowering perspective on the private and public life of one of our greatest Americans. It is a book with which the next generation can judge, and be enlightened by, Jefferson’s words and deeds. — Jeremy D. Bailey - San Francisco Chronicle
With characteristic insight and intellectual rigor, Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter Onuf have produced a powerful and lasting portrait of the mind of Thomas Jefferson. This is an essential and brilliant book by two of the nation’s foremost scholars—a book that will, like its protagonist, endure. — Jon Meacham, author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power
How did Jefferson's sense of himself and his life missions affect how he handled his many roles, including revolutionary, president, and plantation owner? In this groundbreaking book, Gordon-Reed and Onuf look at Jefferson as a total person and how he set about to fulfill the goals he developed early and held throughout his career. Jefferson is endlessly fascinating, and this book shows why. — Walter Isaacson, author of Steve Jobs
A peerless team, Annette Gordon-Reed and Peter Onuf pierce the mysteries of Jefferson’s character and at last offer a compelling explanation of how the republican statesman and plantation patriarch could coexist in a single soul. Jefferson’s flaw was not hypocrisy but conviction, his unswerving belief in paternalism as empowering and beneficent. — Danielle Allen, author of Our Declaration: A Reading of the Declaration of Independence in Defense of Equality
This inspired collaboration takes us as close as we’re likely to get to the way Thomas Jefferson understood himself and his times. Not content with clichés about a man who made his world anew, Gordon-Reed and Onuf show us the world that made the man…. Here is Jefferson as he might have painted his own image, a self-portrait comprised of equal parts sun and shadow. — Jane Kamensky, author of Copley: A Life in Color
How did Jefferson's sense of himself and his life missions affect how he handled his many roles, including revolutionary, president, and plantation owner? In this groundbreaking book, Gordon-Reed and Onuf look at Jefferson as a total person and how he set about to fulfill the goals he developed early and held throughout his career. Jefferson is endlessly fascinating, and this book shows why. — Jack Rakove, author of Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America