Books: Lost Language

INVENTING AMERICA: JEFFERSON'S DECLARATION OF INDEPENDENCE by Garry Wills; Doubleday; 398 pages; $10

The 18th century man, all calibration and catalogue, seems shaded by sinister, unscientific paradoxes. Thomas Jefferson proclaimed a "self-evident" truth that all men are created equal and yet owned slaves and may have kept one as his mistress for years; he was an aristocrat and elitist who was implicated in the most democratic enterprise the world had ever attempted: a sweet violinist of the manor who could write georgic poetry about revolution and blood.

The problem, writes Garry Wills, usually lies...

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