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Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet: The Life of Luther Martin (Lives of the Founders) Hardcover


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Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet: The Life of Luther Martin (Lives of the Founders) + American Cicero: The Life of Charles Carroll (Lives of the Founders) + Founding Federalist: The Life of Oliver Ellsworth (Lives of the Founders)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 225 pages
  • Publisher: Intercollegiate Studies Institute; 2 edition (September 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1933859733
  • ISBN-13: 978-1933859736
  • Product Dimensions: 8 x 5.7 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (12 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,002,337 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

It figures that local patriot Kauffman is skeptical about the Constitution, which, after all, subjected the states to a huge, remote setup in New York City, then Philadelphia, then the fever swamps of the Potomac. Luther Martin (1748–1826), a Maryland delegate to the convention that drafted the Constitution, vigorously opposed its centralizing tendencies in a two-day argument against it. When he saw his was a losing battle, like other delegates since contradictorily called Antifederalist (they were for the strong state and limited central governments of true federalism), he went home to fight ratification. He was scathingly counterattacked, though primarily for his well-known bibulousness, and gave back (mostly) better than he got, by Kauffman’s lights. After the Constitution prevailed, he settled down to strictly construct it. Maryland’s longest-serving attorney general, Martin also successfully defended Supreme Court justice Samuel Chase and former vice president Aaron Burr in the two highest-profile political trials in early U.S. history. Kauffman, the liveliest conservative wit of our time, tells Martin’s story with great relish and principled rue for federalism lost. --Ray Olson

About the Author

Bill Kauffman is the author of seven previous books, among them Ain’t My America; Look Homeward, America (ISI Books), which the American Library Association named one of the best books of 2006; and Dispatches from the Muckdog Gazette, which won the 2003 national Sense of Place Award from Writers & Books. Kauffman writes for the Wall Street Journal, the American Conservative, and Orion, among other publications. He lives in his native Genesee County, New York, with his wife and daughter.

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Customer Reviews

4.3 out of 5 stars
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This is a marvelous, profound and entertaining biography with modern purpose.
Jon L. Albee
If you are interested in American history, constitutional history, the founding fathers, or just great stories - then this is the book for you!
Mark Twain "Sam"
And, given that it's Bill Kauffman writing, it's also extremely well-written, subtilely humorous, and powerfully engrossing.
Andrew S. Rogers

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By J. Scott Shipman on November 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Kaufmann has written an important and informative little book on a man I'd previously never heard of. I read a review in the WSJ, bought the book, and didn't want it to end. Mr. Kaufmann's conversational style of writing brings his vituperative/loquacious subject to life. There's a lot of dirt on the sainted Founders that I'd never read, but confirmed after reading this little volume.
Highly recommended if you're looking for solutions to our current situation as a nation. Well done, Mr. Kaufmann.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Andrew S. Rogers VINE VOICE on November 20, 2008
Format: Hardcover
The copy of "Forgotten Founder, Drunken Prophet" that I picked up had an eye-catching yellow sticker on the front jacket, with the following text printed upon it:

"WARNING: This book contains ideas that will not sit well with what you learned in high school 'social studies' classes. Constitutionolatry and the received wisdom of the nature and purpose of the American State emerge from these pages battered and limping. Reading this book may result in changes in your thinking."

All right. I made that up. My copy did not include that warning, but perhaps it should have. Readers unfamiliar with either the author or the suppressed history of the Founding -- specifically the extent to which the adoption of the Constitution was the defeat of, not a victory for, the principles of the American Revolution -- are in for a shock when they read this book. Not to sound conspiratorial, but how else can you describe the systematic erasing, not only of men like Luther Martin but more fundamentally of the ideas they stood for, from our collective understanding of our national story? Victors' History is one thing; history meant to reinforce our own submission to the central government is something very different.

There's an awful lot packed into book that's disguised as one more brief biography of yet another American Founding Father. What tears away the disguise is, for one thing, the fact that almost nobody has ever heard of Luther Martin. The more fundamental "tell," however, is the author's name on the front cover, and anyone who's read any Bill Kauffman knows they're in for a treat.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Mark Twain "Sam" on December 16, 2008
Format: Hardcover
First heard of the book and author on a radio program. Was so intrigued that I went to the book store that afternoon and purchased it. I am not disappointed at all. This is the first book by Kauffman that I have read, but will not be my last! Well written; thought provoking; informative; entertaining! An added bonus is its application to current events - will most likely make you even more disgusted with todays representation when you hear the past prognostication. If you are interested in American history, constitutional history, the founding fathers, or just great stories - then this is the book for you! Have already purchased additional copies for family/friends.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Jon L. Albee TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on April 30, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Luther Martin is frequently thrown into the pot of lesser-known Anti-Federalists. Modern studies of the so-called "Anti-Federalists" misrepresent them in two critical ways: First, they tend to equate the Anti-Federalists with today's conservatives when, in fact, the Anti-Feds were classical liberals. Second, the very label "Anti-Federalist" is conflicted, because the form of government these people supported was a loose confederation of otherwise independent states, much the way the EU is today. Ironically, this is the exact definition of Federalism, which may help explain why Martin embraced the Federalist Party later in his life once it had shaken the implicit monarchism of Hamilton. He was trying to save the legal concept for posterity, and he understood the true meaning of a confederation, just as his close friends Samuel Chase and Aaron Burr did. The author finds it interesting (as I do) that the three founders who most supported a true confederation were also the most difficult to label. They didn't fall neatly into either the Hamiltonian or Jeffersonian cliques, and they were despised for it.

So, here's our founding Libertarian, incorrectly tagged an Anti-Federalist, and what an enormous character he was! As one of our foremost scholars of constitutional law, Martin was blessed with a scathing intellect and no discretion whatsoever. He set loose on the Constitutional Convention with little respect for the prevailing backsliding of his peers. Martin comes across these days as a drunken radical who offered little to the Convention beyond passionate, alcohol-soaked rhetoric that irritated his more refined colleagues.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By R. T. LYNCH on February 11, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I must admit as a scholar of early America I had hardly heard of Luther Martin, so when I got this book I was excited to read about him. This book is written very well and is hard to put down. The descriptions of the debates at the constitutional convention make you feel like you were there. Martin, outspoken and firm in his ideas is a patriot of the first order and thanks to this great book people will again know his name. If you are intrested in the founding fathers and that time period this book is for you.
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