Mr. Jefferson's University

Mr. Jefferson's University

by Garry Wills

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In the paperback edition of the critically acclaimed hardcover, bestselling author and Pulitzer Prize-winner Garry Wills explores Thomas Jefferson's final and favorite achievement, the University of Virginia.

The University of Virginia is one of America's greatest architectural treasures and one of Thomas Jefferson's proudest achievements. At his request his headstone says nothing of his service as America's first Secretary of State or its third President. It says simply: "Here was buried Thomas Jefferson, author of the Declaration of American Independence, of the Statute of Virginia for Religious Freedom, and Father of the University of Virginia." For this political genius was a supremely gifted artist as well, and of all Jefferson's stunning accomplishments, the school he built in Charlottesville is perhaps the most perfect expression of the man himself: as leader, as architect, and as philosopher.

In this engrossing, perceptive book, Garry Wills once again displays the keen intelligence and eloquent style that have won him great critical praise as he explores the creation of a masterpiece, tracing its evolution from Jefferson's idea of an "academical village" into a classically beautiful campus. Mr. Jefferson's University is at once a wonderful chronicle of the birth of a national institution and a deft portrait of the towering American who brought it to life.

"There is much auspicious history to explore here, and Wills does so with great narrative skills." —Richmond Times-Dispatch

"His command of the subject is formidable." —Los Angeles Times

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781426201813
Publisher: National Geographic Society
Publication date: 06/12/2007
Series: Directions
Sold by: Penguin Random House Publisher Services
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 176
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Garry Wills, adjunct professor of history at Northwestern University, is the author of many books, including Lincoln at Gettysburg, Papal Sin, Venice: Lion City, Saint Augustine, and James Madison. He has been awarded the Pulitzer Prize, the Presidential Medal of the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Book Critics Circle Award.

Date of Birth:

May 22, 1934

Place of Birth:

Atlanta, GA


St. Louis University, B.A., 1957; Xavier University, M.A., 1958; Yale University, Ph.D., 1961

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Mr. Jefferson's University 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
johnxlibris on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
I picked up this book just before I left Charlottesville in May. As prose goes, this is not a well written book. The fact-forward, clunky style is more appropriate to journalism final exams... and in dire need of an editor. His word choice is puzzling at times and sentences often end (and begin) abruptly, unconscious of narrative finesse.Yet in spite of its stylistic shortcomings, the book is easy to follow: that is, if you are familiar with UVA. I've been reading it on the bus to and from work, picking it up for 20-45 minutes at a time and setting it aside for the rest of the day. Wills attempts to reconstruct the building of UVA's "academical village" through Jefferson's perspective (his sources and citations primarily come from the letters of TJ and Joseph Cabell). I would stress the word "reconstruct" because Wills sees with the eyes of an architect. Furthermore, I should note that if you haven't been to UVA and familiarized yourself with the grounds, you may have trouble following his sinewy, structural descriptions. (Here is what I suggest. If you live in Charlottesville, or are planning to visit, take this book and read it as you walk around central grounds. There's little point in trying to read this unless you can easily visualize what Wills illustrates.)There is little in the way of elaboration, comment, or speculation. With the exception of a concise summary or platitude to serve as a segue, Wills rarely adds his own voice. The "whys" are most often supplied by Jefferson's words. If there is a particular aesthetic beauty in one of Jefferson's architectural choices, we know it through comparison, contemporary criticism, or justification, but rarely by way of Wills own voice.Which is a shame because he obviously loves C'ville and TJ. His specificity in regards to the masonry of each building of the Lawn & Range is enough to show his admiration. But I'm half-way through the book; I don't expect the status quo to change.
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago