Jefferson on Jefferson

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Not trusting biographers with his story and frustrated by his friend's failure to justify his role in the American Revolution, Thomas Jefferson wrote his autobiography on his own terms at the age of 77. Yet he revealed little about himself and his family, choosing instead to address various political concerns of the day. The resulting book ends, well before his death, with his return from France at the age of 46. Asked for additional details concerning his life, Jefferson often claimed to have a decayed memory . Fortunately this shrewd politician, philosopher, architect, inventor, farmer and scientist penned nearly 18,000 letters in his lifetime, saving almost every scrap he wrote. In this text, researcher Paul Zall returns to original manuscripts and correspondence for a new view of the statesman's life. He extends the story where Jefferson left off, weaving excerpts from other writings with passages from the original autobiography. The result is a more complex portrait of a man who was often bitter about the past and insecure about his place in history.