There is excellent Jefferson scholarship… available to interested readers. Current scholars seem bound by political correctness to debase the Jeffersonian legacy with tales of slave concubines and youthful indiscretions. Look to the work of the established Jefferson scholars to find the elusive inroads to one of America’s greatest, but most enigmatic minds.
Jefferson and the New Nation by Merrill D. Peterson– At over 1,000 pages, there is no more detailed one volume biography of Jefferson. Peterson was a history professor at the University of Virginia for over 30 years and specialized in analyzing Jefferson’s impact on the American character. Peterson passed away in 2009, but his research remains vital in understanding Jefferson’s mind.
Thomas Jefferson; A Life by Willard Sterne Randall– The calm before the Sally storm, Randall’s biography focused primarily on Jefferson’s diplomatic career. Largely lost in the deluge of revisionist biographies that emerged in the late 90’s, Randall’s volume provides new interpretations of Jefferson’s political life.
Jefferson and His Time; Vol. 1 Jefferson the Virginian by Dumas Malone– No history library is complete without the definitive Jefferson biography. A massive undertaking of six volumes spanning Jefferson’s life, Malone is definitely the final word. Volume 1 traces Jefferson’s youth, education, marriage, and the construction of Monticello. A deeply personal look into Jefferson’s character, this book examines his life prior to his public career. No Jefferson scholar is more maligned by the revisionists than Malone. The vitriol used against Malone’s work is evidence of his influence.