THOMAS JEFFERSON by Hendrik Willm Van Loon


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Viewed as a Van Loon item, this probably will win a market not confined to the age for which it was presumably destined. Viewed as a Jefferson biography for the teens, it doesn't pass muster. Van Loon presumes too much background of history, which would be needed to unscramble his rambling method of mixing history and biography and bypaths of dissertation on such topics as tobacco, slavery, traditions of liberty. No thirteen year old, for instance, would emerge with any sort of rounded picture of Jefferson as boy or man, or even any concrete pattern of his life and his place in history. But he would have understanding of the things for which Thomas Jefferson fought and lived to prove -- and that is more than a routine biography would do. Occasionally, Van Loon talks down to his audience (he does that to adults, too); more often he talks over the heads of his audience (ditto, here, as well). It is not a good book, it isn't even a good Van Loon. But it is an interesting experiment in biography.

Pub Date: April 13th, 1943
Publisher: Dodd, Mead