American Sphinx (December Challenge #10)

Here we are at post number ten for December! We are moving right along! Unfortunately, I don’t lead a life that is riveting enough to warrant several posts a day. I told Dirk he needs to pick up the slack, but he will be MIA on here until he turns in his Greek final on Tuesday. Meanwhile, its just me on here!

I thought I’d share what I’m reading these days. I get easily distracted, so for those of you wondering I’m still working on World Book A. The problem is, that same month my book club started reading Grapes of Wrath. I put the World Book down to devote time to TGOW, and just left it there. I realized this last week, and my goal now is to finish it before we leave for Christmas. (I’ll keep you updated, not to worry) 

In the meantime, I’m also reading American Sphinx: The Character of Thomas Jefferson by Joseph Ellis. I received the book a couple years ago for Christmas (I only ask for books for Christmas, so if you need ideas, check out the wishlist on the right) and had never started it. I wanted it for two reasons: I read David McCullough’s biography of John Adams a few months before and it intruiged me to learn more about his alter-ego, Jefferson. Also, I read Founding Brothers by Ellis the year before and really enjoyed it. Why I decided to read it now, I’mnot sure. It was probably next on my bookshelf.

 The book is divided into several chunks of time. It spends the majority of the text on his political life. I would recommend that you apprise yourself of major events in history in this time if you choose to read it since it provides very little background or explanation of events. That being said, it is interesting to read exerpts from letters and diaries of Jefferson and the insight on them provided by the author. What comes to light is that Jefferson was ‘double-minded’, to put it lightly. The author is kind and explains it as Jefferson being able to ‘hide things from himself’ and thereby be able to be sincere about opposing viewpoints and opinions. A critic would call it being a hypocrite.

I admit, I’m not really a fan of Thomas Jefferson. Upon reading Adams’ biography, I developed a deep affection for him, and since Jefferson is the exact opposite of Adams, its hard to be a true fan. It seems that Jefferson is a little overrated and the only reason we can all quote him despite our party affiliation or worldview is because Jefferson spoke out of both sides of his mouth. At some point or another he said something that you or I can agree with. He also seems–as he did then– very other-worldly, and ethereal. I like Adams because he was honest, hard-working, and firey.

I’m not done with the book, so maybe at the end I’ll gain some great insight into the heart and mind of Jefferson that will change my opinion. I’m not expecting much.

 Do you have any opinions?

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