What We Are Reading Today: Jefferson’s Legal Commonplace Book by Thomas Jefferson

Updated 24 April 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: Jefferson’s Legal Commonplace Book by Thomas Jefferson

  • This authoritative volume is the first to contain the complete text of Jefferson’s notebook

As a law student and young lawyer in the 1760s, Thomas Jefferson began writing abstracts of English common law reports. Even after abandoning his law practice, he continued to rely on his legal commonplace book to document the legal, historical, and philosophical reading that helped shape his new role as a statesman. Indeed, he made entries in the notebook in preparation for his mission to France, as president of the US, and near the end of his life. 

This authoritative volume is the first to contain the complete text of Jefferson’s notebook, says a review on the Princeton University Press review. With more than 900 entries on such thinkers as Beccaria, Montesquieu, and Lord Kames, Jefferson’s Legal Commonplace Book is a fascinating chronicle of the evolution of Jefferson’s searching mind.

Unlike the only previous edition of Jefferson’s notebook, published in 1926, this edition features a verified text of Jefferson’s entries and full annotation, including essential information on the authors and books he documents. 

In addition, the volume includes a substantial introduction that places Jefferson’s text in a legal, historical and biographical context.


What We Are Reading Today: The White Devil’s Daughters by Julia Flynn Siler

Updated 25 June 2019
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What We Are Reading Today: The White Devil’s Daughters by Julia Flynn Siler

  • It is such an empowering and hopeful book for women in advocacy and in fighting for the freedom of those who are most susceptible and vulnerable

This book dives into the historical times that are often neglected by American history.

It “draws out the invisible struggles and vulnerability that results from being an Asian American immigrant, and a woman,” said a review in godheads.com.

It said the book “is a definite read especially for those who want to understand the societal construct of the model minority, of oppression in American and Asian American history.” The review added: “It is such an empowering and hopeful book for women in advocacy and in fighting for the freedom of those who are most susceptible and vulnerable. Author Julia Flynn Siler is a New York Times best-selling author and journalist.

Her first book was the The House of Mondavi: The Rise and Fall of an American Wine Dynasty.

As a veteran correspondent for the Wall Street Journal and BusinessWeek magazine, Siler spent more than two decades in the Europe and the US, reporting from a dozen countries on various topics. Her stories and reviews have also appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Los Angeles Times, and the Oxford Encyclopedia on Food and Drink in America.