Read Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War by Michael Kranish Online


When Thomas Jefferson wrote his epitaph, he listed as his accomplishments his authorship of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia statute of religious freedom, and his founding of the University of Virginia. He did not mention his presidency or that he was second governor of the state of Virginia, in the most trying hours of the Revolution. Dumas Malone, authorWhen Thomas Jefferson wrote his epitaph, he listed as his accomplishments his authorship of the Declaration of Independence and the Virginia statute of religious freedom, and his founding of the University of Virginia. He did not mention his presidency or that he was second governor of the state of Virginia, in the most trying hours of the Revolution. Dumas Malone, author of the epic six-volume biography, wrote that the events of this time explain Jefferson's "character as a man of action in a serious emergency." Joseph Ellis, author of American Sphinx, focuses on other parts of Jefferson's life but wrote that his actions as governor "toughened him on the inside." It is this period, when Jefferson was literally tested under fire, that Michael Kranish illuminates in Flight from Monticello. Filled with vivid, precisely observed scenes, this book is a sweeping narrative of clashing armies--of spies, intrigue, desperate moments, and harrowing battles. The story opens with the first murmurs of resistance to Britain, as the colonies struggled under an onerous tax burden and colonial leaders--including Jefferson--fomented opposition to British rule. Kranish captures the tumultuous outbreak of war, the local politics behind Jefferson's actions in the Continental Congress (and his famous Declaration), and his rise to the governorship. Jefferson's life-long belief in the corrupting influence of a powerful executive led him to advocate for a weak governorship, one that lacked the necessary powers to raise an army. Thus, Virginia was woefully unprepared for the invading British troops who sailed up the James under the direction of a recently turned Benedict Arnold. Facing rag-tag resistance, the British force took the colony with very little trouble. The legislature fled the capital, and Jefferson himself narrowly eluded capture twice. Kranish describes Jefferson's many stumbles as he struggled to respond to the invasion, and along the way, the author paints an intimate portrait of Jefferson, illuminating his quiet conversations, his family turmoil, and his private hours at Monticello. "Jefferson's record was both remarkable and unsatisfactory, filled with contradictions," writes Kranish. As a revolutionary leader who felt he was unqualified to conduct a war, Jefferson never resolved those contradictions--but, as Kranish shows, he did learn lessons during those dark hours that served him all his life....

Title : Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780195374629
Format Type : Hardcover
Number of Pages : 388 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War Reviews

  • Samantha
    2019-01-30 08:58

    I'm not a Revolutionary War buff but this is a book that needs to be owned by anyone interested in the American Revolution. I learned a lot from it. I had no clue that Thomas Jefferson had any issues during the war as Virginia's governor. Yes, I knew he was Governor during the war and that he had to leave Williamsburg because I had heard about it at Colonial Williamsburg, but I had no clue the extent of it. The first 100 or so pages of this book are about his time in Williamsburg before he became governor and his life at Monticello. The last two thirds of the book are about his decisions and beliefs as Governor of Virginia. I did not realize that President Jefferson believed in weak executive to the extent that it made it hard to find horses, ammunition and men for the war in Virginia. I had no clue that he didn't want to have anything to do with the war planning and believed that he didn't know anything about it. Yet he delayed calling in the militia as Benedict Arnold moved closer to Williamsburg. I didn't realize that President Jefferson gave up the governorship during the war either. I assumed that he was defeated. I was interested to learn about his caring nature when it came to his wife and children. I just learned a lot from this book. I felt that Michael Kranish did a very good job keeping it fast paced and interesting. I would recommend this book to any history buff looking to learn more.

  • J.S.
    2019-02-16 09:08

    Most of the Revolutionary War histories I've read so far deal rather perfunctorily with the latter years when the conflict moved south. They hit the high points like Yorktown and mention that a lot of terror and destruction were spread across the countryside, but mainly skim the surface. That's where this book fills the gap. Michael Kranish starts with some fascinating background on what colonial Virginia was like such as the different (upper) classes of Tidewater and Piedmont, the compulsive gambling, and Jefferson's upbringing. He describes the frictions between Loyalists and Patriots, and Lord Dunmore's difficult flight. But the focus of the book is the year when Jefferson was governor. Benedict Arnold, now a British general, laid waste to towns up and down the James River, plundering as he went. Jefferson, not a military man by his own admission, moved the Legislature to avoid the British and belatedly called out local militias, most of whom offered scant resistance and poor showings. But Kranish does an excellent job of explaining the situation (a situation for which Jefferson has been criticized ever since): the difficulties in raising the promised number of men for the Continental Army, the poor condition of the militias, and the woeful defenses offered by the Virginians. In an interesting twist of irony, Kranish points out that many of those difficulties arose from Jefferson's resistance to a standing army and support for laws limiting the power of the Governor. Kranish offers a defense of Jefferson but declines to get bogged down in it and focuses more on the history, including a number of interesting stories. I'll admit I'm not much of a fan of Jefferson - most of what I've read hasn't been particularly flattering. But Kranish presents him as a real person, doing what he could in a situation for which he wasn't well-suited (briefly mentioning the health problems his family faced). He overstates some of Jefferson's latter accomplishments but points out the failures and shortcomings, but overall he sticks to the history. This isn't light reading - it will probably be most appreciated by those more seriously interested in the War or history of the region - but also stops short of being dry and scholarly. It is well annotated and indexed, and I found it to be an interesting read.

  • Paul Lunger
    2019-02-02 08:52

    Michael Kranish's "Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War" he takes a slightly different approach to one of the most important people in Virginia during the Revolutionary War & US history by examining in detail the events in Thomas Jefferson's life during that time frame. With a decent amount of detail, Kranish puts we the reader back into the mid-1770s & beyond as he tells of the events of Jefferson's time as governor of Virginia & the exact fears of the colonists at the time. Each chapter moves us forward in time & gives you a good feel for what life would've been like during that era & also gives us an insight into Jefferson himself that isn't seen all that often. Jefferson & the other leaders of that time are humanized in a way that is very nice to see as he reminds us that they were fallible people & put their lives at great risk. The inevitable flight from Monticello happens near the end as Jefferson continues to fear for his live to avoid becoming the most prized British POW of the war. The book is a must read for anyone with an interest not only in the man who would become the 3rd president of the US & is also the author of the Declaration of the Independence but for anyone with an interest in the Revolutionary War itself.

  • Eric Atkisson
    2019-02-08 12:01

    Good book, if somewhat misnamed; most of it is about the several British invasions of Virginia in 1781, while Jefferson was governor. The actual flight from Monticello for which he was maligned by critics is a relatively minor and anticlimactic postscript. What I found most enlightening wasn't about Jefferson at all, but at how wretchedly the state's militia performed during most of the conflict, how poorly most Virginians cooperated with the war effort (indeed, a good portion of the public remained Loyalists to the crown), and how so many of their slaves deserted to the British. The book was well worth reading for those insights alone.

  • Paul Arbogast
    2019-02-02 13:44

    While the title is Flight from Monticello, the book starts long before that event occurred. To me, this is a good thing though. While more die hard history buffs might know every detail that is already in this book, I enjoyed it immensely. It is a good telling of the story of Virginia during the revolutionary war and many of the things that went on, and people that were involved.

  • The Book Studio
    2019-02-14 13:41

    Watch Bethanne Patrick interview Michael Kranish about his new book “Flight from Monticello” on The Book Studio.

  • Nicholas
    2019-02-12 17:00

    An engaging short story sandwiched between badly written prose.

  • Tom
    2019-01-17 09:43

    A fine book about an overlooked period in Jefferson's life.

  • Bonnie Walker
    2019-01-18 13:45

    The Revolutionary War in VirginiaDuring the British Invasion of a Virginia, Jefferson was the governor and by default, the military commander. The governor had very few powers and he had difficulty raising a militia. He was criticized for his ineptness but insisted he was the wrong person to be in charge of the military . Other than a detailed accounting of the many battles, troup movements, and final battle, the most interesting aspect of this book is the role slavery played in the war and also in the culture and economics of Virginia. The story ends with the battle at Yorktown, and just skims over the rest of Jefferson's life. His relationship with Sally Hemings is not explored.I recommend this book; however, the writing is not as polished as David McCullough. The details of the battles are repetitious.

  • Paul Creasy
    2019-02-10 14:57

    Great book!Very readable and quite informative. I learned quite a few things about such a little discussed incident in American history. I also learned that the state government of Virginia was as dysfunctional then as it still is now. Jefferson comes off well in this account. Patrick Henry comes off poorly. Benedict Arnold is actually worse than I already thought. Highly recommended.

  • Steve
    2019-01-23 14:44

    Great book that looks in detail at Jefferson's time as governor of Virginia during the Revolutionary War. It also serves as a good short dual biography of Jefferson and Patrick Henry.

  • John
    2019-02-01 15:53

    As a Jefferson fan, I perhaps overrate this book. From a literary perspective, the book is a hard read--it reads more like a very dry textbook or maybe a dissertation. It borders on being a recitation of facts and the "story" sometimes is lost in the sheer number of event-lets and marginally-related minutae. I found myself skimming parts just to get through them.On the positive side, this is one of the most complete compilations of historical events collected in one place regarding the period from 1775 to 1783 pertaining to Virginia in general and Jefferson's activities in particular. The research was exhaustive and the end notes are staggering. Clearly a substantial effort was placed on following all sorts of leads and odds and ends for their impact (or not) on the roles of various individuals during these events.Overall, while I knew much of Jefferson's participation in the events of that time, I also learned much especially how roles of others and certain events shaped his decisions. This is a significant work and offers much to serious Jeffersonian students -- it is just a little hard to read as the number of small events is almost overwhelming. I believe that the author could have taken some editorial license and emphasized certain events, explaining them in detail, while de-emphasizing other events which had a lesser impact on resulting events.

  • Grace Struiksma
    2019-01-24 17:00

    Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War is more than a historical narrative about Jefferson as governor of Virginia. It is a detailed account of the American Revolution from a Virginia perspective. While the text thoroughly analyzes Thomas Jefferson's philosophies, flaws and choices presented to him during a time of crisis while serving as governor of Virginia, the author interestingly unravels the story of a state at war, including the major players involved, specific places and battlegrounds, strategies and dilemmas. Kranish provides comprehensive insight into the significance of Virginia during the Revolution, and not simply as the place regarded as the culmination of the conflict.

  • Amanda
    2019-02-06 13:00

    I learned so much about the Revolutionary War in Virginia from reading this book. I'm much more familiar with events in New England. With characters like Patrick Henry and Thomas Jefferson, this book was an engaging read. This book is also a reminder that we shouldn't let our failures destroy us. Jefferson was a terrible wartime governor of Virginia, often ignoring calls to attack the British that would possibly have ended the war earlier. He was not much of a military mind. Yet, Jefferson went on to be a valuable European diplomat for the newly formed US and later a great president. This book gave a glimpse into what created Jefferson.Reading this while visiting Monticello and Yorktown was so perfectly timed, and I thoroughly enjoyed learning more about this history.

  • Ryan
    2019-01-18 10:50

    This was an enjoyable read that focused on a relatively unknown period in American history. Michael Kranish paints a vivid picture of late 18th century Virginia and the dynamics involved between the British/Loyalists and Americans (specifically Governor Thomas Jefferson) in the Revolutionary War. This is a page-turner and I highly recommend this book to interested readers.

  • David
    2019-02-16 10:04

    Interesting book about Jefferson's role as a wartime governor of Virginia. Some people accuse him of cowardice as he escaped from the invading British but this book explains things and makes it clear that Jefferson acted responsibly. Lots of ancillary information about the overall Revolution as it took place in Virginia - much more active than typical history transmits to us.

  • Roger
    2019-01-24 15:58

    Interesting history of the Revolutionary War in Virginia with an empahsis on Thomas Jefferson and his role as governor. His flight from Monticello is a minor chapter of the book. But Thomas Jefferson was haunted by this chapter in his life and the perception he was a coward. Author redeems Jefferson and offers reasonable arguement that he made the correct choice out of necessity not fear.

  • Lee
    2019-01-29 16:06

    This is kind of a dry read which focuses on Thomas Jefferson’s term as Virginia governor and his actions to repel the invasion of Virginia which happened during the end of his term as he was forced to run from Monticello with Banastre Tarleton’s cavalry in pursuit. This covers probably the darkest moment of Jefferson’s political career.

  • Eric
    2019-01-20 13:48

    It was a drier historical text then I was anticipating. I thought it was going to dramatize a specific event more. It's always interesting to read history, but this didn't quite live up to my expectations.

  • William
    2019-01-19 11:03

    Very interesting and hereto unknown (to me) topic about Thomas Jefferson. Not nearly the history reader I once was, when times were simplier and history more "stable", so I'll be anxious to read this, especially if a cheaper soft cover is available.

  • Peter Boody
    2019-02-08 13:05

    Carried me along briskly with details about the invasions of Virginia I never knew and Jefferson's doings at the time. Not so much a study of Jefferson the man but an accounting of his war years. A valuable addition to any Jeffersonian's shelf or any student of the revolution.

  • Mary Mongold
    2019-02-13 11:48

    I loved this book. VA and Williamsburg history was interesting. Very easy to read.

  • Dayla
    2019-02-16 12:51

    Without a doubt, the best book on Thomas Jefferson. No one can say they know Jefferson unless they have studies this period in his life--the governor of Virginia.

  • Jason Townsend
    2019-02-01 12:52

    This one started off a bit slow but ultimately contained a large amount of interesting info in its short page length.

  • Steven
    2019-02-09 15:07

    I enjoyed the topic. I did not know much about what happened in Virginia during the Revolution untill I read this book.

  • Janice
    2019-02-17 09:04


  • Elisabeth
    2019-01-27 13:50

    An interesting book about the state of Virginia during the Revolutionary War, with Thomas Jefferson as governor.

  • Maryellen
    2019-01-25 14:52

    Interesting account of the Revolutionary War. Especially enjoyed it because we had just spent a week in Colonial Williamsburg.