Leading journalist and social critic Christopher Hitchens offers a startlingly new and provocative interpretation of America's founding father, situating Jefferson within the context of America's evolution and tracing his legacy over the past two hundred years. Whether in politics, literature, science, or the arts, the subjects of this dynamic series of brief biographies have shaped our picture of the world. The authors' strong sensibilities and sharp, lively points of view make us see that picture in a totally new way. The key to the "Eminent Lives" series is the pairing of author and subject: distinguished writers on figures central to world culture. An eloquent writer, Thomas Jefferson was an awkward public speaker and a reluctant candidate; nevertheless he left an indelible presidential legacy. He penned the Declaration of Independence and acted as Minister to France yet yearned for a quieter career in the Virginia legislature. Predicting that slavery would shape the future of America's development, this professed proponent of emancipation elided the issue in the Declaration and continued to own human property. In the background of this sophisticated analysis is a large historical drama: the fledgling nation's struggle for independence, formed in the crucible of the eighteenth-century Enlightenment, and, in its shadow, the deformation of that struggle in the excesses of the French Revolution. This artful portrait of a formative figure and a turbulent era poses a challenge to anyone interested in world history and the ambiguities of human nature.