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James Madison: A Life Reconsidered Hardcover – May 6, 2014

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Editorial Reviews


Praise for James Madison: A Life Reconsidered
by Lynne Cheney

“With this compelling, elegant, original biography, Lynne Cheney brings the great, elusive James Madison back to life. . . .”
Michael Beschloss, author of The Conquerors and Presidential Courage

“Lucidly written . . . this is probably the best single volume bio of Madison that we now have.”
 —Gordon Wood, New York Times Book Review

“Graceful and balanced . . . Cheney makes clear that Madison was a practical politician . . . principled but pragmatic, sincere but complex. His world was complicated. So is ours, and it [could] use more people like him.”
 —H. W. Brands, The Washington Post
“A lovingly researched tribute to an often underestimated man. It does not explicitly refer to modern controversies. But present-day politics intrudes.”
The Economist

“[In this] meticulously researched, richly detailed look at the life and times of Madison, former Second Lady Cheney fleshes out the achievements and struggles of this American founding father. . . . Authoritative, conversational, certainly confident in its analysis.”
Publishers Weekly
“Written with subtlety and grace, [James Madison] is as groundbreaking as it is fresh, as enthralling as it is compulsively readable. It is nothing short of a masterpiece. . . .”
Jay Wink, author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval

“A nuanced study on its own and a thoughtful presentation by one of today’s prominent public intellectuals.”
Library Journal
“[Lynne Cheney’s] writing is both fluid and polished; the tone is measured and judicious. Her treatment of Madison . . . is informed by a sophisticated knowledge of politics, without in any way being presentist.”
David B. Mattern, senior associate editor, Papers of James Madison, University of Virginia

“[Cheney] offers a lucid, well-paced, wonderfully written, and authoritative history. Very well worth your time.”
 —National Review
“This is the James Madison we always should have known about. Thanks to Lynne Cheney’s well-researched book, it’s the James Madison we will now always know.”
The Washington Times
“The Constitution remains Madison's greatest legacy. Cheney's detailed biography helps renew appreciation for the man behind it.”
Pittsburgh Tribune Review

“Lynne Cheney has written what may be the most authoritative and comprehensive book ever on the life of Founding Father and President James Madison. It offers a fascinating perspective into how brilliant Madison truly was.”
Intellectual ConservativeLynne Cheney

About the Author

Lynne Cheney is the author or coauthor of twelve books, including six bestselling books about American history for children. Her most recent book is We the People: The Story of Our Constitution. The wife of former vice president Dick Cheney, she lives in McLean, Virginia, and Wilson, Wyoming.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Viking; First Edition edition (May 6, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670025194
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670025190
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.8 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (334 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #69,468 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Lynne Cheney's most recent book is the New York Times bestseller, We the People: The Story of Our Constitution, illustrated by Greg Harlin. She is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers America: A Patriotic Primer, A is for Abigail: An Almanac of Amazing American Women, When Washington Crossed the Delaware: A Wintertime Story for Young Patriots, A Time for Freedom: What Happened When in America, and Our 50 States: A Family Adventure Across America, and has written a memoir, Blue Skies, No Fences. Mrs. Cheney is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and former chair of the National Endowment for the Humanities. She lives in Washington, D.C., with her husband, Vice President Richard B. Cheney.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

162 of 174 people found the following review helpful By I.A. on May 18, 2014
Format: Hardcover
I am not an historian, so I will write as an avid pedestrian reader. I grew up in an age when the founding fathers were still on a pedestal and had not yet been deconstructed into mere mortals. But now comes the age of the great re-deification of the founding fathers, and I couldn't be happier. We have wonderful books galore about Washington ("The Secret Six" being one of my newer favorites), Jefferson (who survived the Sally Hemings drumming and has reclaimed his rightful position via "The Art of Power" and other tomes), and of course McCullough's "John Adams," all of which give wonderful depth and complexity to their subjects. Now we have Cheney's "James Madison" to round out this quartet. I'll admit it was a little difficult at first to take this book seriously--after all, how hard would it be for Mrs. Dick Cheney to get a book published? However, after skimming the first few pages I was hooked, and completely forgot about her famous husband. Although Cheney is not a faculty member at a prestigious college (the usual candidacy to author this type of tome), she has a sizzling intellect, a beautiful, engaging turn of phrase, elegant pacing, crystal clear organization, and just the right use of quotes to convey her arguments. I was amazed at how the book danced along, giving ample substance where needed, but never losing its momentum and readability. In this age where there are few real heroes (Bonhoeffer and Mandela come to mind), we would do well (especially as Americans, not ashamed to admit it) to clarify and and reinforce our understanding of these special men and how they came together to act as a force for great change.
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66 of 78 people found the following review helpful By T. Zeller on May 11, 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I thought I read enough biographies on James Madison to know all there was regarding our forth president. I have been happily been proven wrong and am enthralled with Cheney's James Madison: A Life Reconsidered. It is aptly titled as I find myself reconsidering previous views and opinions of Madison and regard him in higher and higher esteem as I turn the page. If you thought Dolly was the interesting member of the family dive in and discover a man whose ability and understanding of the bureaucracy are still unmatched today!
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48 of 56 people found the following review helpful By N. Thomas on May 13, 2014
Format: Hardcover
His face isn't on Mount Rushmore, he didn't have a lot of flash and many folks couldn't tell you one thing about him except possibly his wife's name. Mrs. Cheney's new book finally gives America's premiere founder the attention and recognition he deserves. Mrs. Cheney fills each page with important historical detail but, it feels more like a marvelous adventure as you are on the sidelines as history unfolds. If you wish you knew more about our country and how the founding fathers developed our nation to be the arguable success it is today - this is a MUST READ!
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95 of 119 people found the following review helpful By History Buff on May 6, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition
I enjoy books about the Founding period, so when I saw the great New York Times review this book received I downloaded it as soon as it came out. So far it is everything the review promised. Thank you, Mrs. Cheney, for this comprehensive, well-written contribution to our understanding of such an interesting man and important Founding Father!
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
James Madison was the shortest of our founding fathers but his intellectual brilliance puts him in the first rank of the men who made the United States. Madison (1751-1836) was born into great wealth at Montpelier his fabled home in the Piedmont region of the Old Dominion of Virginia. His closest friend throughout life was Thomas Jefferson our third president and the principle author of the Declaration of Independence.
Madison graduated from Princeton where he came under the Presbyterian and Scottish Enlightenment teaching of Dr. John Witherspoon Madison studied for the career of law quickly winning fame in the United States House of Representatives. He would later serve as President Washington closest advisor. Madison wrote Washington's first inaugural address. Madison served as Secretary of State in the Jefferson administration. Madison was one of the three authors of the Federalist Papers (along with Alexander Hamilton and John Jay) calling for approval of the US Constitution in 1789. John Quincy Adams called him "The Father of the Constitution."
Madison had a happy private life. Little Jemmy was married to Dolley Todd a fetching Quaker widow. The couple were childless but her son John Todd by her first husband was a wastrel. Madison was stiff and formal in public but could be warm with close friends. He was bookish loving chess and rural pleasures.
Madison served two full terms as POTUS from 1808-1816. Madison was our first wartime POTUS leading the nation through the dark days of the War of 1812 and the burning of the White House by the British.
Dr. Lynn Cheney, the wife of Dick Cheney former Vice-President , has produced a well researched and written biography which is especially strong on illuminating the Constitution convention and actions political and military during the War of 1812. I devoured this book in two days. It should be a candidate for the National Book Award for Biography. Excellent and highly recommended!
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By fred bowers on December 26, 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A very detailed biography of an important figure in American history. It was clearly well researched and written to give us insight into James Madison. I found the book difficult to read because it seemed to drag the reader through more detail than necessary. I almost gave up on the book while wading through the section about his epilepsy.
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