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The Long Affair

Thomas Jefferson and the French Revolution, 1785-1800

As controversial and explosive as it is elegant and learned, The Long Affair is Conor Cruise O’Brien’s examination of Thomas Jefferson, as man and icon, through the critical lens of the French Revolution. O’Brien offers a provocative analysis of the supreme symbol of American history and political culture and challenges the traditional perceptions of both Jeffersonian history and the Jeffersonian legacy.

"The book is an attack on America’s long affair with Jeffersonian ideology of radical individualism: an ideology that, by confusing Jefferson with a secular prophet, will destroy the United States from within."—David C. Ward, Boston Book Review

"With his background as a politician and a diplomat, O’Brien brings a broad perspective to his effort to define Jefferson’s beliefs through the prism of his attitudes toward France. . . . This is an important work that makes an essential contribution to the overall picture of Jefferson."—Booklist

"O’Brien traces the roots of Jefferson’s admiration for the revolution in France but notes that Jefferson’s enthusiasm for France cooled in the 1790s, when French egalitarian ideals came to threaten the slave-based Southern economy that Jefferson supported."—Library Journal

"In O’Brien’s opinion, it’s time that Americans face the fact that Jefferson, long seen as a champion of the ’wronged masses,’ was a racist who should not be placed on a pedestal in an increasingly multicultural United States."—Boston Phoenix

"O’Brien makes a well-argued revisionist contribution to the literature on Jefferson."—Kirkus Reviews

"O’Brien is right on target . . . determined not to let the evasions and cover-ups continue."—Forrest McDonald, National Review

"The Long Affair should be read by anyone interested in Jefferson—or in a good fight."—Richard Brookhiser, New York Times Book Review

Read the Epilogue.

386 pages | 15 halftones | 6 x 9 | © 1996

History: American History

Political Science: American Government and Politics

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Prelude—Four Americans in Paris, Circa 1785: Benjamin Franklin, John and Abigail Adams, Thomas Jefferson
1: A Lonely American: Thomas Jefferson, Minister Plenipotentiary at the Court of Louis XVI 1785-87
2: A Somewhat Clouded Crystal Ball: Jefferson as Witness of the Last Years of the Ancien Regime 1786-89
3: Bringing the True God Home: The French Revolution in American Politics after Jefferson’s Return 1789-91
4: Approach and Advent of the French Republic, One and Indivisible: 1791-92
5: French Revolution in America: The Mission of Citizen Charles-Edmond Genet April 1793-January 1794
6: The Lingering End of the Long Affair: Jefferson and the French Revolution after Genet’s Mission 1794-1800
7: A Thematic Overview: Liberty, Slavery, and the Cult of the French Revolution
Epilogue: Thomas Jefferson and the Impending Schism in the American Civil Religion
Appendix: Madison Hemings’s Story

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