This book, a National Book Award nominee in 1988, 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 and 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.
“Gracefully written . . . Jefferson and Monticello melds biography and social history to plumb the complexities and contradictions of our most gifted president.”—John Catanzariti, Editor, 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