The Hemingses of Monticello

By Annette Gordon-Reed,

Book cover of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

Book description

This epic work-named a best book of the year by the Washington Post, Time, the Los Angeles Times, Amazon, the San Francisco Chronicle, and a notable book by the New York Times-tells the story of the Hemingses, whose close blood ties to our third president had been systematically expunged from…

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. (learn more)

Why read it?

3 authors picked The Hemingses of Monticello as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Gordon-Reed’s 1997 book, Thomas Jefferson and Sally Hemings: An American Controversy, was a paradigm-shifting landmark that examined the different ways that historians had used the existing evidence for a relationship between Jefferson and Sally Hemings, a woman he enslaved. The next year DNA testing confirmed a genetic link between Jefferson and one of Hemings’s children. In The Hemingses of Monticello, Annette Gordon-Reed provides the most complete study we have of the many complicated relationships between the Hemings and Jefferson families.

It is a beautifully written, deeply-researched account that demonstrates, among other things, the degree to which slavery imprecated…

Gordon-Reed is a masterful historian and nowhere is that more evident than in this exceptional, prizewinning book that explores the complexities of freedom and slavery during the early Republic. She traces the stories of several generations of this family, including the stories of Sally Hemings and her brother James, who together lived with Jefferson in Paris during the 1780s, a place where they might have obtained their freedom, albeit likely at the cost of never returning to the rest of their family in Virginia. But some of the most fascinating and surprising elements of the book touch on many other…

By deftly exploring the nuances and silences in historical documents, Jefferson, Annette Gordon-Reed recovers the intertwined lives of an enslaved family with their masters in the Wayles, Jefferson, and Randolph clans. Attending to the parents, siblings, and children of Sally Hemings, Gordon-Reed offers a master class in how to find the traumas and triumphs of people whose slavery enabled others to enjoy fame, fortune, and power. Thomas Jefferson appears on a more human scale as dependent on a clan of enslaved people for material and emotional comfort.

From Alan's list on the early United States.

Want books like The Hemingses of Monticello?

Our community of 7,000+ authors has personally recommended 10 books like The Hemingses of Monticello.

Browse books like The Hemingses of Monticello

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in slaves, Virginia, and multiracial people?

7,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about slaves, Virginia, and multiracial people.

Slaves Explore 75 books about slaves
Virginia Explore 82 books about Virginia
Multiracial People Explore 45 books about multiracial people