The Hemingses of Monticello
W. W. Norton & Company
a heavy pre-release advertising campaign, Annette Gordon-Reed’s magnum opus, The
Hemingses of Monticello, was launched by her publisher W. W. Norton in
September 2008. What followed was an extensive book-tour to sell this “non-fiction”
tome of 798 pages of garbled facts and half-truths. It expands for page after
page on the tiniest shreds of history. It seems clear that Ms. Gordon-Reed has
been getting paranormal help. One reviewer claimed Ms. Gordon-Reed was able to “make
silent records speak.” She is an expert at literary slight of hand—taking an
innocent fact and spinning it to prop up the insupportable.
interview by Publisher’s Weekly in October 2001, she announced her
contract to do a book on the Hemings family.
Gordon-Reed noted there was so little material available that the book
couldn’t be a biography of Sally Hemings, but would “follow a couple of the
descendants” and “probably stick to the 19th century.” Seven years later her book is a shameless
exploitation of a handful of well-known and lesser known historical figures who
have become in her own words “vehicles” to politically condemn America from the
beginning as racist, sexist and classist.
The reader is forced to view American history through the distorted lens
of the author. The “moral” of her story
is that “white supremacy” and its offspring “oppression” created the “down-right
mean” country that we live in. She makes the incredible statement that of all
the degradations suffered by “workers” and women in the world today—“none of
these conditions approach the systematic degradation and violence of American
slavery sanctioned by state and church.” Torture and death camps in Dachau, the
Gulags, the killing fields of Cambodia or Darfur are not excepted by her view. This
single statement is reason enough to eschew this volume.
book is neither a user friendly travel guide to the past, nor is it helpful to
researchers who have in fact studied the “origins” of the Hemings family and
the “immigrant” John Wayles, father of Thomas Jefferson’s wife who Gordon-Reed
alleges is the father of Sally Hemings and several of her siblings. She takes
no pains to go into any more depth of research than our book published in 2002
which described in detail the life of John Wayles and provided documented
material on the Hemings family origins. Borrowing heavily as she followed our
steps she vigorously argued, while failing to acknowledge us as her mystery
back cover of this book has praising blurbs from Edmund S. Morgan, Joseph J.
Ellis, David Levering Lewis, David W. Blight, Peter Onuf, and John Hope
Franklin. In addition, Dr. and Mrs. Edmund Morgan had a lengthy, praise-filled
article on the book in the New York Review of Books. Professor Eric
Foner of Columbia University, although neither quoted nor featured in
Gordon-Reed’s book, nevertheless graciously endorses the book in the New
York Times and the International Herald Tribune. He does warn the reader that she is
repetitious and that the book is too long. However, he fails to warn the reader
that she is repetitious in her condemnation of white people. Numerous reviews
of the book have appeared in the “MainStreamMedia” with similar praise and no
criticism of the length, repetition, or racist rants. At two hundred pages, it
may have been a bad book still, but it would have been a little more tolerable.
With the media buzz that has been created, you can expect the book in your
local public library.
best understand Gordon-Reed, one should read David Horowitz’s 2000 book, Hating
Whitey—and other Progressive Causes first.
If you think Rev. Jeremiah Wright and Annette Gordon-Reed are oddball
and not representative of a slice of America today, you must read Hating
Whitey soon. America has been under attack for years by the radical left
who have used the politics of victimization to denigrate and condemn Western
country that has been exceptional for the opportunity that has been offered to
all who are willing to work and assimilate deserves a better family story.
written in the manner of The Hemingses of Monticello is not about
understanding ordinary people who lived long ago. It is all about the radical
politicization of history and the ingratitude of a middle-class woman who has
done very well in this “oppressive” society.