Top critical review
Like many, I often had to force myself to ...
Reviewed in the United States on December 11, 2015
There is a lot to say about this book as most can discern from the many, varied comments posted before me. It was too long is definitely true. The author, Annette Gordon-Reed certainly did a lot of research and the historical information provided was very interesting, particularly that which most readers, unless they are Jefferson historians themselves, might not have known otherwise. Like many, I often had to force myself to keep reading. When Ms. Gordon-Reed makes a point or provides relevant information, she doesn't seem to be satisfied that her readers might understand it so she repeats the same information over and over and over again. Having said that, if you can filter out the redundancy and push on, the book has an important message, not only about the horrors of slavery but about human nature and what people are able to overcome if given half a chance. This book is about Thomas Jefferson as much as it is about the Hemings. In fact, there is much more to learn about the Hemings descendants that I feel should have been included. I've read numerous biographies about our founding fathers, including Jefferson, and several other books about his relationship with his slaves and Sally Hemings. Although Jefferson was obviously a gifted and intelligent man who played a crucial role in our country, he was perhaps one of the greatest politicians who ever lived. His public persona and ability to cause many to admire him, his good manners, his musical talent, his avoidance of harsh debate and conflict is certainly a part of who this multidimensional man was. When looking beyond these positive aspects of his personality and reputation, you will discover things you can not turn away from once they've been revealed. He enslaved human beings. Living, breathing, people who were mothers, fathers, grandmothers, grandfathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, wives, husbands and children. He was self-serving and financially irresponsible to the point that he left his slaves and his own white daughter and grandchildren completely unprotected after his death. The Hemingses of Monticello will give you much to think about. Their story is powerful and enlightening.