Books: Founding Father

JEFFERSON HIMSELF—Bernard Mayo—Houghfon Mifflin ($4).

Conspicuous as a missing front tooth is the gap in U.S. biography caused by the lack of a definitive life of Thomas Jefferson.* This book represents an attempt to span the gap with a kind of footbridge woven from the cables of Jefferson's own thought. Says the author, University of Virginia's young, Maine-born historian Bernard Mayo: "This [is the] story of Thomas Jefferson, told in his own words." Those who begin by testing Author Mayo's footbridge warily, wishing for a more orthodox structure, will soon come to respect his biographical engineering.

Many-sided Thomas Jefferson, like his contemporary Benjamin...

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