“Jefferson and the Ordeal of Liberty” is the third of six volumes in Dumas Malone’s epic biography on Thomas Jefferson. Malone spent over one-third of his life researching and writing this series, his most renowned work for which he won a 1975 Pulitzer Prize. This volume covers the years 1792-1800, including the last year of Jefferson’s tenure as Secretary of State, his three-year retirement at Monticello, his years as John Adams’ Vice President and his election to the presidency in 1800.
Although many reviewers of this volume seem to have felt “Jefferson and the Ordeal of Liberty” might have been better titled “Jefferson and the Ordeal of Reading,” I found this part of Malone’s series more interesting than the first volume and roughly on par with the second. Happily, somewhere between the first and third volumes his style of writing seems to have become more user-friendly and Jefferson’s life story even more interesting.
Unfortunately, this book (like the first two in the series) often suffers from an overwhelming amount of detail. Die-hard fans of Malone may consider this entirely appropriate in what can be considered an “encyclopedic accounting” of the times – at least as they relate directly to Jefferson. But in some respects, Jefferson seems to have been directly involved in relatively little during these years…
– Click here for the full review at BestPresidentialBios.com –