Reviews


Publishers Weekly | The New Orleans Times-Picayune | Washington Post | Chicago Tribune | Virginia Libraries | Loudoun Magazine | Washington Times | Richmond Times-Dispatch | The Dallas Morning News | Jewishpress.com | (Northern Virginia) Times Community Newspapers | Fauquier Times-Democrat | American Jewish History | Norfolk Virginian-Pilot | Virginia Magazine of History and Biography | The Jewish Exponent |The Rambler | Norfolk Virginian-Pilot | Rappahannock (Virginia) Record | Port Folio Weekly | Hadassah Magazine | The Journal of American History | The Roanoke Times

Publishers Weekly, October 1, 2001

In this excellent account of Monticello's ownership after Thomas Jefferson's death, Leepson ... turns the spotlight on a family that contributed to the preservation of history but heretofore went unnoticed....Through extensive research and with fascinating detail, Leepson uncovers the facts surrounding Monticello's owners and preservation.... Leepson's absorbing account is an overdue chronicle and homage to the national treasure and its memorable saviors.


Patricia Brady,
The New Orleans Times-Picayune, Sunday, October 28, 2001   

The fate of Monticello during those years [1831-1923], the story of its preservation, and the heroes of that story are generally unknown today. In "Saving Monticello," Marc Leepson, who has written for the New York Times, Preservation, Smithsonian and other publications, remedies that ignorance....

"For many years the essential role of the Levy family -- uncle and nephew -- in preserving Monticello was denied or downplayed, but it is now part of the official history of the house.... Leepson recounts the family's history with verve and passion.... [His] readable and vivid account brings an extraordinary story to the general public. As he makes very clear, the Levys lived at Monticello longer than the Jeffersons, and they preserved one of America's major architectural treasures.


Jonathan Yardley,
Washington Post, Nov. 1, 2001

This book provides useful and welcome evidence of the Levys' role [in saving Monticello]. Leepson is a diligent, thorough researcher.... [a] good book. [full review]


Deborah Kalb
Chicago Tribune, December 30, 2001

Leepson provides a wealth of information, obviously well-researched, on the Levy family.... [He] has opened the curtain on a little-known portion of American history, and "Saving Monticello" is a welcome treat... a fascinating book.... [full review]


Selden Richardson,
Virginia Libraries (quarterly journal of the Virginia Library Association)
October/November/December 2001, pp. 31-32

Leepson does an excellent job of unraveling the complicated line of Monticello ownership…. Happily, the role of the Levy family in the preservation of Monticello is now recognized in displays and narrative histories presented to the public who tour the mansion. Saving Monticello is a thorough and enjoyable record of that long-neglected story.


Patti Best
Loudoun Magazine, January 2002

Both Thomas Jefferson and Jefferson Levy are wonderfully portrayed in Marc Leepson's book. He has brought Monticello and its restoration to life. Although readers may be attracted to the book because the cover fascinates them, they will close it with a wealth of knowledge.


Rick Britton
Washington Times, Jan. 6, 2002

Drawing on diaries, letters, and public records [Marc Leepson] recounts the fascinating tale of how two generations of a Jewish-American family, for close to 90 years, preserved and protected the house that Jefferson built..... Thanks to the Levys, we can still appreciate Monticello, the only home in America on the United Nations' prestigious World Heritage List of structures worthy of preservation at all cost. Thanks to Marc Leepson's in-depth research, we can now enjoy this wonderful tale.


Jay Strafford
The Richmond Times-Dispatch, January 20, 2002

...a compellingly interesting book, one that will resonate beyond the world of historic preservation...Leepson uses spare but descriptive prose in recounting the history of Monticello. And that history comes alive with a fascinating, if eccentric, cast of characters.... Leepson, working from a wealth of sources, has drawn the first complete and detailed portrait of how Monticello was nearly lost....

Diligently researched, copiously noted, Saving Monticello is a work of historical importance, a valuable addition to Jeffersoniana and Jewish-American history--and a cautionary tale of historic preservation, a story, in the best sense, of saving grace. [full review]


John Gamino
The Dallas Morning News, Feb. 17, 2002

[Saving Monticello] is comprehensive, fleshing out a chapter that mainstream historians typically ignore or give short shrift. It is to be recommended to Virginia as well as 19th and early 20th-century specialists, to connoisseurs of American Jewish history, and to Jeffersonians all.


Aharon ben Anshel
Jewishpress.com, February 21, 2002

Leepson`s Saving Monticello is a wonderful contribution to American Jewish historical literature. [full review]


Peter Honig
(Northern Virginia) Times Community Newspapers, March 1, 2002

...meticulously researched.... Leepson... has done a tremendous amount of digging to uncover the fascinating story of Monticello from the 1826 death of Thomas Jefferson, to the time the Thomas Jefferson Foundation bought it and turned it into a landmark in 1923.... [he] relates nearly every detail of an interesting and seldom-told part of American history....for people interested in American history and local lore, Saving Monticello is a fascinating read.


James P. Gannon,
Fauquier Times-Democrat, Warrenton, Virginia, Wednesday, April 3, 2002:

The story of Monticello's ... decline and ultimate resurrection to its status as a national treasure is the subject of a fascinating new book by ... author Marc Leepson.... In his carefully researched book, Mr. Leepson details the story of the famous estate's history, and the many colorful characters that played important roles in its past.


Louise A Mayo,
American Jewish History, September 2001:

Leepson [makes] good use of letters, diaries, public records, and secondary sources to describe the saving of Monticello in complete...detail." Leepson is "thorough overall, particularly in his discription of the Levy family history in America.... interesting and worthwhile.


Barrett R. Richardson
Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, December 23, 2001:

The fascinating story of how an American icon was spared from oblivion by a Jewish family is told by Marc Leepson in his compelling narrative....The account of [Uriah] Levy's life reads like an adventure novel....Leepson's account of [Maud] Littleton's vitriolic national crusade... reads like a suspense novel.


James M. Lindgren,
Virginia Magazine of History and Biography, Vol. 109, No. 3:

Leepson...tells a good story, especially on the genealogy [and] careers of Uriah and Jefferson Levy.


Robert Leiter,
The Jewish Exponent, July 3, 2002:

It is remarkable that in the 175 years or so since the great man's demise that no one else thought to tell this inspiring story, which is just the right book to read on a lazy July 4 holiday. [full review]


Deborah R. Weiner,
The Rambler (Southern Jewish Historical Society Newsletter), Spring 2002:

...engaging...[tells a] remarkable story: how a Jewish family named Levy, through its ninety-some year ownership of Monticello, saved one of America's most important historic landmarks from ruin....well-written and well-researched...[offers] compelling narratives with a colorful cast of characters, while addressing issues such as Thomas Jefferson's views on religious liberty, the position of Jews in nineteenth and early twentieth-century America, and trends in American historic preservation....

Leepson's book is...in the nature of an historical detective story. Conflicting sources left contradictory accounts of episodes in the Levy family's long association with Monticello. By recounting more than one version of some of these episodes and evaluating the plausibility of each, Leepson provides a revealing glimpse into the challenges of constructing the historical record....we are lucky that [this] fine book [has] "rescued" the rescuers of Monticello from obscurity.


Eric Feber,
Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, September 20, 2002:

Hang on for a wild ride through history with colorful characters that even Jefferson's imagination couldn't have foreseen.


Rappahannock (Virginia) Record, September 19, 2002:

Marc Leepson's book... chronicles the entire history of Monticello, but features the 89-year ownership of the Levy family.... Leepson writes a fascinating account....


Bill Reuhlmann,
Port Folio Weekly (Norfolk, Va.), October 15, 2002:

[The story of the Levy family saving Monticello is] documented in a ground-breaking book by historian Marc Leepson, Saving Monticello....


Tina Levitan,
Hadassah Magazine, December 2002:

Marc Leepson vividly recounts the turbulent sage of this historic treasure....Leepson's excellent book brims with intimate and fasincating details. It will be welcomed not only in academia but by everyone interested in understanding the sweep of American Jewish history.


Carl Lounsbury,
The Journal of American History, March 2003:

Saving Monticello describes the fate of Jefferson's principal residence over a ninety-year period between 1831 and its purchase by the Thomas Jefferson Memorial Foundation in 1923…. If the Levys are well known among preservationists, Leepson is right in noting their long absence from Monticello itself. Until the mid-1980s, the nineteenth-century history of the site was barely mentioned…. The story of the preservation of a house such as Monticello provides important insights into changing cultural attitudes about the past. Though nothing will dislodge the primacy of Jefferson at Monticello, the history of the place is much richer when the focus is also turned on those who preserved it.


George Kegley,
The Roanoke Times, September 14, 2003:

This story is told well by Marc Leepson.... His thorough research provides an inside look at the home Jefferson began building in 1768 when he was only 25. Saving Monticello is a good historical read; a timely story about the pitfalls of preservation of an important place.