A History Of His Own Making

Author Joseph Ellis invented a Vietnam tour of duty. But why?

In the world of American historians, Thomas Jefferson is considered a tad overexposed. That's why Joseph Ellis' 1997 National Book Award-winning American Sphinx was such a coup. Here was the familiar Jefferson--egalitarian aristocrat, slaveholding author of the Declaration of Independence, globetrotting homebody--plumbed one step further. Ellis used his empathic powers to convey how Jefferson explained himself to himself--as a young idealist constructing "interior worlds of great imaginative appeal," even if they didn't jibe with reality, and later on keeping his contradictions alive with an "internal ability to generate multiple versions of the truth."

Now readers are left wondering just how deep...

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