Sunday, September 21, 2008

More on Gordon Reed, The Hemingses of Monticello

"The Hemingses of Monticello is a brilliant book," write Edmund S. Morgan and Marie Morgan in the New York Review of Books. "It marks the author," Annette Gordon Reed of New York Law School, "as one of the most astute, insightful, and forthright historians of this generation." Gordon Reed's account of Sally Hemings, Thomas Jefferson and the life to those who lived at Monticello is drawn

from thousands of documents and the vast scholarship of the historians who preceded her. While praising her grasp of the sources, her legal acuity, her erudition, and the stylishness of her narrative, it remains to be said that her great achievement lies in telling this story. Because it is one of the stories that really matter.

Continue reading here.

Dan noted last Sunday's review of The Hemingses of Monticello in the Washington Post. Gordon-Reed is drawing a lot of press, including a profile in the Arts section of Saturday's New York Times by Patricia Cohen.

"'I wanted to tell the story of this family in a way not done before' so that readers can 'see slave people as individuals,'" Gordon Reed says in the NYT interview. "'Robert, James, Elizabeth and Sally are not concepts but people,' she added, referring to the Hemings family." Cohen notes that "Joseph Ellis, a Jefferson scholar who had been wary of the claims about Hemings before the DNA tests, called Ms. Gordon-Reed’s book 'the best study of a slave family ever written.'"

The story continues here.