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Dinner at Mr. Jefferson's: Three Men,…
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Dinner at Mr. Jefferson's: Three Men, Five Great Wines, and the…

by Charles A. Cerami

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I read it because.........The title intrigued me. Having been to Monticello, I expected wine for the dinner to be moved up from Jefferson's elaborate wine cellar on pulley's he devised, of his guests patiently waiting for him in his foyer filled with artifacts from his travels and a dinner of both French and American cuisine. Boy! was I over reaching! This title was a bait and switch if ever there was one.

Thoughts............This non-fiction offering by Charles Cerami, begins in 1789 and sets the table for the compromise to come. The very young nation of the United States is already in dire straits. President Washington commands the nation from New York City, Hamilton is organizing the Treasury Department, Thomas Jefferson has been appointed Secretary of State and James Madison is a Congressman. Nationally, the Union was struggling to remain cohesive, individual states were deeply in debt and to assure France and England that the United States intended to remain viable, a new and permanent capital had to be established. All of this information took 3/4 of the book. The "dinner" which Jefferson arranged and would settle some the these issues came after the all the groundwork was explained to the reader. The "dinner" was not at Monticello since all governmental business was conducted in New York. Thus, Jefferson hosted the dinner there.
Not much information was garnered from the dinner "that changed America" because the few notes that remain were written by Jefferson, who the author suggests, stretched the truth a wee bit. The book concludes with a type of where they went from here style format.
Although the book is interesting in its way it was not what was expected and reminds me to, more often, read the blurbs on the cover.

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  Carmenere | Feb 1, 2014 |
This was a pretty good read. More about the politics of the day and the relationships between Jefferson, Hamilton and Madison, with a good measure of Washington thrown in, too. The dinner, the lead up to it and the post-dinner analysis were there, but not really the point of the book -- which was fine with me because this book continues my fascination with Jefferson in particular and this period of American history. While the author does clearly make his opinion known, this is also clearly called out by the author. He goes so far as to point out what other authors and historians he agrees with or not and why. Much is known about the dinner and the politics of the time, but a lot is still unknown and based on analysis of what is likely or unlikely.

I'd recommend this to people interested in early United States of America history. It makes me want to read more about each of the key people of the book, but especially Jefferson and Hamilton. ( )
  Pool_Boy | May 27, 2010 |
Not really about the dinner at all. Very conjectural on the part of the author. I was disappointed in the description of the book, and would never have chosen to read it if I'd realized it was so fictional. The story is disjointed and if the reader is waiting for the dinner, the wait is long, and then over before it's even started. ( )
1 vote tututhefirst | Jun 28, 2009 |
while i scooped this off the shelf with some enthusiasm when i saw it at the library, i must say it left me cold.

it took me no less than three tries to even get started (never a good sign) and once i did manage to pick it up i had to fight the urge to put it back down again.

this book was based on following the course of a dinner between Madison, Jefferson, and Hamilton where much political maneuvering did ensue. yet the author takes this potentially interesting premise and makes historic porridge out of it.

these friends and rivals were all in orbit to the Washington presidency and though opposed on many issues, saw the necessity of cooperating at this juncture. this book follows the ways in which these men came to submit to this need despite their vast personal and political differences.

to my mind the tone the author adopts is too conversational for my and seems not only partisan but to assume the reader knows contextual elements of the time and political climate i feel would be better made explicit.

not having read a great deal of early american history, i still suspect there are more thorough and enjoyable efforts to be had. ( )
  arouse77 | Jun 16, 2008 |
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Remembering the incomparable Jean Keats
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The Thomas Jefferson who arrived at Norfolk harbor in late 1789 was not the same man who had left for France almost five years earlier.
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(Click to show. Warning: May contain spoilers.)
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0470083069, Hardcover)

The Constitution was two years old and the United States was in serious danger. Bitter political rivalry between former allies and two surging issues that inflamed the nation led to grim talk of breaking up the union. Then a single great evening achieved compromises that led to America's great expansion. This book celebrates Thomas Jefferson and his two guests, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, and the meal that saved the republic. In Dinner at Mr. Jefferson's, you'll discover the little-known story behind this pivotal evening in American history, complete with wine lists, recipes, and more.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:01:05 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

The Constitution was two years old and the United States was in serious danger. Bitter political rivalry between former allies and two surging issues that inflamed the nation led to grim talk of breaking up the union. Then a single great evening achieved compromises that led to America's great expansion. This book celebrates Thomas Jefferson and his two guests, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, and the meal that saved the republic. In Dinner at Mr. Jefferson's, you'll discover the little-known story behind this pivotal evening in American history, complete with wine lists, recipes, and mor.… (more)

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