Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826) is a many-sided, much-studied American icon. His many-sidedness is a large part of his lasting appeal, since he displayed an intellectual appetite and engaging virtuosity that flabbergasts an age given over more to specialization, method, and technique. From architecture and archaeology through classical languages and literature into history, law, and politics, on to music, rhetoric, and science — his quest seemed boundless. And in so much of this, his interests were far more than merely academic: in field after field, he proved to be a most highly skilled practitioner, a most remarkable contributor. To be sure, he was a patron of the arts and the sciences, but he surged far beyond patronage to a striking and enduring participation.
So many sides appear to require so many books, especially as we turn and return to Jefferson for definitions of ourselves and of what America is all about. As recently as 1993, with the celebration of the 250th anniversary of his birth, the reading and the viewing public witnessed another burst of