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Review

Examines the history of the U.S. Constitution and the role played in the document's formulation by Madison. Presents his views -- Campaigns & Elections on August 2002

From the Inside Flap

Americans are once again rediscovering the wisdom of the founders who wrote and ratified the U.S. Constitution, which has stood the test of two centuries. James Madison's efforts in Philadelphia during the summer of 1787 earned him the reputation of being the "father of the Constitution." The time is ripe for Madison to take his place alongside John Adams and Thomas Jefferson as a thinker for the ages.

This book looks at the ways in which Madison's ideas might instruct and inform our era. Alex Kozinski, Stephen Engel, and Roger Pilon call for a return to Madison's belief that the powers of the federal government are limited to those granted in the Constitution. The historians Joyce Malcolm and Robert McDonald examine the ways in which Madison was unique and the differences he had with Jefferson. Tom G. Palmer, Jacob Levy, and John Samples reflect on Madison's implications for contemporary multiculturalism and the practice of direct democracy. Walter Berns and Michael Hayes hold up his strict separation of politics and religion for both praise and blame.

The book closes with essays by James Dorn and John Tomasi, which suggest that developing nations and the larger world would do well to follow Madison's concern for limited government and human rights.

The contributors to this volume provide an informed, but never pedantic, guide through Madison's thought. They are determined to let Madison speak to our time. Every reader interested in current politics and the future of our Constitution will treasure this book.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Cato Institute (June 14, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1930865228
  • ISBN-13: 978-1930865228
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,112,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Currie-Knight TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on June 4, 2004
Format: Paperback
Let me start by saying that I am a libertarian, firmly committed to most of the ideas represented in this book. In a way, then, it feels strange to have come away from this book with the dry feeling that I did. Here's why I did.
First, on television and radio, I am always skeptical of endorsement deals. "Hi, I'm [insert hot-shot sports star] and I use [insert hot-shot product]. You should too." Well, this book is what i call a 'political endorsement' book of the type where the endorser, Madison, is conveniently dead. "Madison believed [insert policy]. Therefore you should too."
Now, I guess that the title of the book alone should've indicated to me that this was what to expect,and i guess in some sense I did. With essay titles like, "Madison and Multi-culturalism," one expects that the goal is to take Madison's writings and apply them to contemporary situations. Maybe i just didn't expect so much of the, "...since Madison said x, x must be right," bit.
Before I go into my one MAJOR problem with the book, I did give it 3 out of 5 stars. Here's why. Whereas about half of the essays are 'endorsement deal' essays, about half are legitimately not. Of course, as the book is on Madison, they might mention him in passing, but most of the 'non-endorsement deal' essays do something like this: "Madison thought x to be a problem. I think x is a problem too. I will argue my own case and I might mention Madison only in passing." The best essays in the book (about a good half of them) do exactly this. They argue on their, not Madison's, merits.
The only thing funny about that is that for all practical purposes, those essays needn't be in a book on Madison at all.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By political idiot on October 26, 2003
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As a classical liberal my beliefs have become an anachronism in America. I belong to a philosophical social club so small that when books like this come along we are given hope that the masses will wake up to the tyranny. Alas, hope is quickly dashed upon the realization that the Fabian socialists have dumbed down the masses over the last forty years to the point that the arguments presented in this book are far beyond most Americans' comprehension, let alone their ability to affect change.
Nonetheless, this is an outstanding group of expertly written essays that are well presented by editor John Samples. Samples also writes one of the essays and an excellent introduction. Some of the topics presented are: Federalism, abuse of the general welfare clause, multiculturalism, democracy, and the essence of representative government, pure democracy, rule of law, and foreign policy. Using historical documents each author is able to help us understand the brilliant mind of Madison and that the abuses of government we are experiencing were foreseen not just by the Anti-Federalists but by Madison as well. These brave men gave us a system that, while less then perfect, is the most advanced in human history.
However, as the editor notes, there is an implicit understanding for this design to work. That understanding is that there is virtue among us. Madison once asked, 'is there no virtue among us? If there be not, we are in a wretched situation. No theoretical checks -no form of government can render us secure. To suppose that any form of government will secure liberty or happiness without any virtue in the people is a chimerical idea.' Do Americans possess enough virtue to maintain a limited government?
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Rob on April 13, 2007
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This is a must read for anyone that believes that taking our rights away is "good for the common good" and "protects" us from terrorism.

This is a good read for all the second admendment haters that believe that it was a "different time" and tyranny could never come to the U.S.
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0 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Robert V. Rose, retired education researcher on April 19, 2012
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Being retired and a reader, I thought I knew enough about American history and political theory. But reading this book taught me a lot more. Published by the Cato Institute, this collection of essays tries to make Madison out as a libertarian (which I am not...libertarians lack moral heart, just as liberals lack common sense).

The two main things I learned were these: Madison indeed believed that federal government should not endorse any religion, BUT HE BELIEVED THAT THE INDIVIDUAL STATES INDEED COULD!

The last chapter describes a 1949 book by Carl Van Doren. He apparently believed that as the individual states of the Confederation required a constitution and a federal (mixed) form of government, that now, with globalization and increased communication, all the states of the world require a world government and a written Madisonian constitution.

In our information technology world and globalization, the lingua franca would obviously be English, and the constitution copied on our own.

Quite a bit to think about!!
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James Madison and the Future of Limited Government
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