Book Review on Jefferson's Great Gamble

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Charles A. Cerami. Jefferson’s Great Gamble. Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks, Inc, 2003. The United States and France were on the brink of war. At stake was the most coveted spot on the planet: a bustling Mississippi River port known as New Orleans. In the center of the crisis stood Thomas Jefferson and Napoleon Bonaparte, two of the greatest leaders of their time, now face to face in a test of wits and wills that would determine the futures of their countries. Jefferson’s Great Gamble is the dramatic story of the Louisiana Purchase – thirty months of high drama, blandishment, posturing and secret maneuvers by some of the most powerful and crafty men of their time. When Jefferson took office as president of the United States in 1801, Louisiana was at he front of his mind. Jefferson knew that the future of the country hinged on its right to navigate the Mississippi River and have access to New Orleans. His hopes for maintaining this right were almost dashed when it was discovered the Napoleon had secretly forced Spain to give the Louisiana Territory to France, and that he had troops on the way to take possession of New Orleans. Jefferson’s only hope to stop the takeover lay on a great gamble: convincing Napoleon that the United States was willing to go to war over the port city. Jefferson knew that war might fracture the new country, which at the time had roughly one thousand men in its army. He was therefore face with not only convincing Napoleon that the United States was ready to fight, but also bluffing him into thinking that they could win that battle. To execute his plan, Jefferson turned to his brilliant but troubled foreign-relations team. James Madison, the wily secretary of state, devised with Jefferson a disinformation strategy. Robert Livingston, the American envoy to France, struggled to negotiate with French officials while being disdained and ignored by Jefferson and Madison, his political rivals. As the final...
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