Michael Kranish


Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War

“A superb narrative” - The Wall Street Journal

"History at its best...Highly recommended." - Library Journal


In 1781, five years after the Declaration of Independence, Thomas Jefferson was governor of Virginia when the traitor Benedict Arnold invaded the state.

As Arnold led an armada of British ships up the James River, Jefferson strolled in the garden of his house in the capital of Richmond. Jefferson had no idea that the man he once hailed as a “fine Sailor” was leading an enemy force of 1,600 men into the state.

This is the story of the invasion that forced Jefferson to take flight from Richmond and ultimately from his mountaintop home of Monticello. A gripping narrative of clashing armies and private turmoil, Flight from Monticello relies on a variety of previously untapped sources, including diaries and the logs of British warships.


Praise for Flight from Monticello: Thomas Jefferson at War

A “superb narrative of [Jefferson’s] turbulent wartime years.” -- The Wall Street Journal

"A brilliantly narrated account of the British invasion and Jefferson’s problematic response to it." One of the  top 10 books of 2010 --Wilson Quarterly

Kranish based this book on impressive research at the International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello and a wide immersion in published primary and secondary works. As a journalist, he knows how to tell a good story....Crisply written and well documented, this book is popular history at its best and will appeal to a wide readership. Highly recommended.” -- Library Journal, starred review

An “evenhanded, careful account...Students of Jefferson's life will want to read it.” -- Newsweek

“This is edge-of-your-seat history, meticulously researched and laid out, but written with such high drama and cinematic clarity that even well-known events of America’s Revolutionary War are made to seem suspenseful—as if this time their outcomes might be different.” -- Foreword Magazine

"No great figures are now without multiple biographies, so why not slice up their lives into smaller subjects? Since that seems to be the current way, we're lucky to have a serious slice like [Flight From Monticello ]... Fluid prose makes the book readable; solid research makes it dependable." --Publishers Weekly

"The story of this seldom-told episode of our early history is dramatically told by Michael Kranish...Even people with broad knowledge of the Revolutionary period will gain from his diligent research, analytical insight and sparkling prose...Flight from Monticello is a worthwhile read." -- Washington Times

“Jefferson’s governorship forms the focus of Michael Kranish’s excellent book. Written by a veteran political journalist at the Washington bureau of the Boston Globe making his first foray into the American Revolution, it is all the more remarkable an achievement.” - Virginia Magazine of History and Biography (review by R. B. Bernstein, author of “Thomas Jefferson.”)

A riveting, nearly hour-by-hour, account of the events that led up to and the subsequent flight of Jefferson — first from Richmond and then from his mountaintop home.” - Charlottesville Daily Progress

“A work of popular history that’s hard to put down.” - Richmond Times-Dispatch

Kranish’s research shines [and] reveals considerable fresh material.” - Norfolk Virginia-Pilot

This is a compelling book about a period of Jefferson’s life that was unfamiliar to me. You will get more out of reading about this lesser-known part of Jefferson’s life than you would by reading yet another full biography. If you want to understand Jefferson, then you want to read this book.” - 1776 Magazine

"Thomas Jefferson's wartime conduct as governor of Virginia haunted him down the decades, and Michael Kranish has now brought this critical episode in American history to vivid life. Anyone interested in the Revolutionary War, in Jefferson, or in the formation of political character will find Kranish's book both delightful and instructive."--Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Lion

"My admiration for Flight from Monticello knows no bounds. Michael Kranish, one of America's best reporters, draws a brilliant portrait of Thomas Jefferson in turmoil. His analysis of Jefferson's strategic blunders is pioneering. Only Dumas Malone equals Kranish in dissecting Jefferson the Virginian. Highly recommended!"--Douglas Brinkley, author of The Wilderness Warrior: Theodore Roosevelt and the Crusade for America, and The Great Deluge

"Michael Kranish has written a vivid and compelling account, with wonderful illustrative and often unfamiliar anecdotes, including descriptions of Benedict Arnold's wearing a British general's uniform and riding along the Duke of Gloucester Street in Williamsburg, and Jefferson's last-minute escape from Banastre Tarleton's troops. Flight from Monticello is an exciting account of a little-known but important chapter of revolutionary history."--Andrew Jackson O'Shaughnessy, director International Center for Jefferson Studies at Monticello, professor at the University of Virginia, fellow of the Royal Historical Society

"Flight From Monticello succeeds superbly well in opening a new window on Thomas Jefferson during the Revolution. In this period of his life, he proved to be an incompetent military leader, poor planner and touchy and defensive Virginian. Kranish's suspenseful narrative illuminates Jefferson's shortcomings, and with great sympathy and skill reveals why this crucial moment of his life forever haunted America's favorite Renaissance Man."--Jonathan Alter, author of The Defining Moment: FDR's Hundred Days and the Triumph of Hope


      Now available in paperback