Wilson Jeremiah MosesDec 10, 2019
A Modern Prometheus
Cambridge University Press 2019
In Greek mythology Prometheus is the trickster Titan who gives fire to humanity. As Wilson Jeremiah Moses explains in his book Thomas Jefferson: A Modern Prometheus (Cambridge University Press, 2019) America’s third president demonstrated many of the same traits as this legendary figure over the course of his long life of intellectual activity. As Moses reveals, this is reflected in the malleable nature of Jefferson’s legacy, which has been reinterpreted continuously by generations of politicians and historians in the generations since his death. To better understand Jefferson’s thinking, Moses dissects the corpus of Jefferson’s writings and examines the span of his activities to draw from them his views on everything from politics and economics to his understanding of the various fields of science which he explored. What emerges from this effort is the complex and sometimes contradictory stew of ideas which Jefferson applied over the course of his political career, during which he helped shape the ideology and institutions which Americans live with today.