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All Things to All People
No Founding Father has as a greater public following than Thomas Jefferson. Embraced for over two centuries by everyone from abolitionists to laissez-faire capitalists, from atheists to evangelicals, Jefferson speaks to people in a way that somehow transcends class or race or political affiliation. But when the agendas of his followers range so widely, is it inevitable that many must be misinterpreting his beliefs? Jefferson scholar Andrew Burstein shares the long history of appropriating Jefferson, a practice that even presidents are not above, in his new book, Democracy's Muse: How Thomas Jefferson Became an FDR Liberal, a Reagan Republican, and a Tea Party Fanatic, All While Being Dead. Professor Burstein agreed to answer some of our questions about his provocative book and what it reveals about both the third president and the generations that have followed him.
It is the week of Thomas Jefferson's birthday, and everyone wishes him a happy birthday. No, really—literally everyone. Currently on Salon, historian Andrew Burstein looks at the appropriation of Jefferson by both left and right, in particular the adoption of this founder of the Democratic Party by the modern-day Tea Party movement. This is just one of the apparent contradictions Burstein explores in his provocative new book, Democracy's Muse: How Thomas Jefferson Became an FDR Liberal, a Reagan Republican, and a Tea Party Fanatic, All While Being Dead.
And So It Ends
The South we inhabit today began with Lee's surrender to Grant at Appomattox. The formal end to the Civil War, it definitively brought the antebellum era to its close. On the 150th anniversary of this historic meeting, we look back at the war's beginning with Brent Tarter's new book, Daydreams and Nightmares: A Virginia Family Faces Secession and War, a devastating look at the personal cost of the war. The scene of the war's conclusion provides a fascinating entry in Anne Carter Lee's Buildings of Virginia: Valley, Piedmont, Southside, and Southwest, the latest addition to the Buildings of the United States series.
Virginia Festival of the Book
For one week each spring the Virginia Festival of the Book turns Charlottesville into a mecca for book lovers. This year's gathering—set to kick off Wednesday, March 18—brings together literally hundreds of writers, including, as usual, many UVA Press authors. We're posting a list of our authors' events below. You can find a complete list of events at the festival web site.
Assia Djebar, 1936-2015
The Algerian novelist and filmmaker Assia Djebar has passed away at the age of 78. A perennial Nobel contender, Djebar was the first Algerian, and only the fifth woman, to be voted into the Académie Française, France's most prestigious literary institution. As the publishers of her novel Women of Algiers in Their Apartment, we can testify to the never-flagging fascination with this pioneering artist.
From a Cottage to a College
To celebrate Black History Month, we are turning to an under-reported but historically and aesthetically rich story—the African American architectural heritage in Virginia. Some sites are notable for being designed by African Americans; others for the roles they played in black history, from Booker T. Washington's birthplace to Moton High School, scene of a student strike that led to Brown v. Board of Education. Following are entries from the just-published Buildings of Virginia: Valley, Piedmont, Southside, and Southwest by Anne Carter Lee and a team of coauthors.
The Page 99 Test
Ford Madox Ford said, "Open the book to page ninety-nine and read, and the quality of the whole will be revealed to you." Tom Chaffin, author of Giant's Causeway: Frederick Douglass's Irish Oddysey and the Making of an American Visionary, was invited to put his book to the test.
Winter in D.C.
The arrival of winter isn't enough to shut down D.C. outdoors expert Melanie Choukas-Bradley. On February 1, the author of A Year in Rock Creek Park: The Wild, Wooded Heart of Washington, D.C. will be leading the first of several nature hikes in the nation's capital. She will also be doing several book talks in the D.C. area during February. Details for all of this activity may be found on the events page of her web site. UPDATE: On March 2, Choukas-Bradley will have a book event co-sponsored by Politics & Prose and Busboys & Poets. Details are here.
McCleskey at Mount Vernon
Turk McCleskey will be appearing at Mount Vernon on Thursday, January 8, to discuss his book The Road to Black Ned's Forge: A Story of Race, Sex, and Trade on the Colonial American Frontier. The event is free to the public. Event details and registration are available on the Mount Vernon web site.
A Game Changer
Chronicling one of the great personal journeys of the nineteenth century, Tom Chaffin's new book Giant's Causeway: Frederick Douglass's Irish Odyssey and the Making of an American Visionary is the most penetrating look yet at Douglass's lecture tour of the British Isles and how it changed the great abolitionist's thinking and his life. Joan Walsh has written an uncommonly insightful review of the book for Salon. (The piece has also been posted to the Chicago Sun Times site.) Walsh praises Chaffin's book as a "vivid social and intellectual history" that illuminates Douglass's feelings about Irish issues that in turn shed invaluable light for him on human rights. She adds that she wishes she'd had a history like Chaffin's to consult when she was writing her own, best-selling book. Tom Chaffin will be lecturing and signing books at the Atlanta History Center on February 18. He has just published a piece on Douglass on the Irish Times web site.