Jefferson and Monticello The Biography of a Builder

Jack McLaughlin

Holt Paperbacks



Trade Paperback

496 Pages



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A National Book Award Nominee

This is the life of Thomas Jefferson as seen through the prism of his love affair with Monticello. For over half a century, it was his consuming passion, his most serious amusement. With a sure command of sources and skilled intuitive understanding of Jefferson, McLaughlin crafts an uncommon portrait of builder and building alike. En route he tells us much about life in Virginia; about Monticello’s craftsmen and how they worked their materials; about slavery, class, and family; and, above all, about the multiplicity of domestic concerns that preoccupied this complex man. It is and engaging and incisive look at the eighteenth-century mind: systematic, rational, and curious, but also playful, comfort-loving, and amusing. Ultimately, it provides readers with great insight into daily life in Colonial and Federal America.


Praise for Jefferson and Monticello

"Gracefully written . . . Jefferson and Monticello melds biography and social history to plumb the complexities and contradictions of our most gifted president."—John Catanzariti, Editor of The Papers of Thomas Jefferson

"McLaughlin’s command of Jefferson’s papers and drawings is astonishing. His research, combined with an engaging writing style, makes this an entertaining and informative volume for anyone with an interest in architecture, Jefferson, or his times."—Charles L. Granquist, Historic Preservation

Reviews from Goodreads



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Jefferson and Monticello
1"A Very Long Time Maturing His Projects"SUMMER RAINS had made the roads between Orange and Albemarle counties even more gouged and treacherous than usual. Two carriages had left the Virginia plantation of the Madisons, James and Dolley, at 10:30 in the morning, early enough on a mid-September day in 1802 to make the twenty-eight-mile journey to the home of President Jefferson before nightfall. So slow and tortuous had been the carriage ride, however, that it was now close to dark. From the nearby Blue Ridge Mountains, silhouetted by the almost constant flashes of lightning,
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  • Jack McLaughlin

  • John McLaughlin is head of the Humanities Division of Clemson University and has contributed to such scholarly journals as Shakespeare Quarterly and Modern Drama. He is also the author of The Housebuilding Experience.