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Madison and Jefferson Hardcover – September 28, 2010

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Editorial Reviews

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James Madison and Thomas Jefferson are both in the pantheon of Founding Fathers, but Madison is frequently relegated to the second tier. He is often described as Jefferson’s protégée and “faithful lieutenant” and credited primarily with his role in the formation and ratification of the Constitution rather than achievements during his presidency. This extensive and well-researched examination of their relationship spanning 50 years paints a more nuanced and often surprising portrait of both men. The authors, both history professors, succeed in removing their subjects from their pedestals without diminishing their brilliance or importance. Both Madison and Jefferson were intense political animals in politically turbulent times. In his conflicts with Federalists, Jefferson used surrogates to engage in “dirty tricks,” while seeming to remain above the fray. Madison was much more than a “policy wonk.” He was an effective and tough legislator at both the state and federal levels; also, he did not shrink from opposing Jefferson’s policies when he disagreed with them. This is an important reappraisal of a critical partnership that shaped our early republic. --Jay Freeman


“[A] satisfyingly rich dual biography [that] promotes Madison from junior partner to full-fledged colleague of the 'more magnetic' Jefferson…An important, thoughtful, and gracefully written political history from the viewpoint of the young nation's two most intellectual founding fathers.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 848 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (September 28, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400067286
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400067282
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.9 x 9.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (86 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #312,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

75 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Robin Friedman HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 11, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Dedicated aptly to those who appreciate the "true complexity of the past" Adndrew Burstein's and Nancy Isenberg's sprawling dual biography of over 650 pages of text and an additional 100 pages of notes and bibliography, "Madison and Jefferson" has the virtue of showing the difficult, multi-faceted character of historical study. The book resists the temptation of single-aspect historical explanation. The more one looks, the harder explanation becomes, to paraphrase the authors in their Preface. The book has two subjects and two authors. Burstein and Isenberg are the former coholders of the Mary Frances Barnard Chair in nineteent-Century U.S. History at the University of Tulsa. They are now, respectively, Manship Professor of history and professor of history at Louisiana State University. Isenberg is the author of a well-received revisionist biography of Aaron Burr, "Fallen Founder" Fallen Founder: The Life of Aaron Burr while Burstein has written previously on JeffersonJefferson's Secrets: Death and Desire at Monticello, Andrew Jackson, and other subjects in early American history. There is a degree of repetition in this lengthy study probably resulting from the dual authorship.

The book examines the friendship and relationship between the third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson (1743 -- 1826) and the fourth president, James Madison (1751 -- 1836) during the course of over 50 years. The book has a number of aims which, in addition to its length and the complexity of its subject give it a polemical, disjointed character in places.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful By Loribee VINE VOICE on September 29, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
I enjoyed this dual biography, even though I'm not at all a "history buff". It is quite a long book, but almost always interesting and well written, and I learned quite a bit about our forefathers.

The book is entitled "Madison and Jefferson" specifically because it is an attempt to restore Madison to his rightful place in history. Although the more outgoing Jefferson is far better known to most people, the authors feel that the more low-key Madison was equally as influential to our history.

The book tells the story of the political relationship, as well as the friendship between our 3rd and 4th Presidents. It does a good job of delving into their different personalities, and showing the men behind the people we now see as almost deities. You learn that these men who did so much toward establishing the country we live in (with The Constitution, the Federalist Papers, etc.), were also very human, with frailties, weaknesses, greed and thirst for power. It does much of the same for George Washington, and other early founders of these United States.

I was afraid that I would find this a boring history book, but I didn't. The book merges history with biography nicely, and while I did learn quite a bit, it was engrossing as well. I learned how important the State of Virginia (where both men were from), was to these men, as well as to the decisions that were made by these early Politicians.

I found it interesting, and somewhat reassuring that the game of Politics really hasn't changed as much as most of us think it has, and that these men that we admire so much were still Politicians as much as they were human beings.

I would recommend this book to anyone - whether you are a history novice like I am, or a history buff - there is a LOT of information in this book, and it is presented in a style of writing that can be enjoyed by anyone.
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32 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Charles Ashbacher HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 12, 2010
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Many people look back at the leaders that drove the American Revolution and then wrote the American constitution and think of them in a deistic manner. There is a modern political movement that demands a shift back to the "purity" of those times when the founding fathers put country ahead of ambition and personal advancement. This mode of thought completely dismisses the fact that those leaders were men that were at times irrational, uncertain and even greedy for wealth and power.
James Madison and Thomas Jefferson were two men that were key in the creation of the United States, Jefferson considered the author of the Declaration of Independence and Madison the father of the constitution. They were also close friends and were the two principal founders of the Democratic-Republican Party that was in opposition to the Federalists of Alexander Hamilton. Although they occasionally disagreed the two men had a strong bond between them, while they were Americans, that characteristic was often secondary to their bond of being fellow Virginians.
Despite their triumphs, they were both subject to the usual human weaknesses, which is the most interesting part of this book. As a history buff, I was well aware of their major accomplishments but what made this book riveting were the revelations of how they often let their humanity overpower their intellect. Another key to the significance of the book is the descriptions of how brutal the early political climate was in the United States. It was very fortunate for the country that George Washington was held in such high esteem and that he was willing to serve two terms as the first president. Those eight years that he spent in office were years were the country was solidified despite the significant differences between the regions.
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