Summer reading update
Joseph Ellis's American Sphinx: The character of Thomas Jefferson was very well done. Ellis had established himself with me as a lucid and entertaining writer in Founding Brothers (published after Sphinx) and does not disappoint in his biography of the best-known of the founding fathers--other than Washington and, if you are a Jay-Walking All Star, Abe Lincoln. Ellis's primary subjects are TJ's abilities to hold several seemingly contradictory beliefs at once, and to profess very strong ideals while often violating those ideals when confronted with reality. Jefferson was a master at self-deception, a trait that, when mixed with his very strong "republican" or limited government beliefs, make him, I think, the quintessential Libertarian. Though every party claims Jefferson as their own (after all, FDR built the Jefferson Memorial as the Democrat counter-weight to the Republican Lincoln Memorial), his multi-faceted personality and often self-contradictory beliefs provide a little for everyone, making him an ideal addition to the American Pantheon, and a subject worthy of Ellis's skill.