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Young Patriots: The Remarkable Story of Two Men, Their Impossible Plan, and the Revolution That Created the Constitution Library Binding – May 22, 2008

ISBN-13: 978-1435283589 ISBN-10: 1435283589 Edition: Reprint
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This engaging if shallow history of the making of the Constitution salutes Madison and Hamilton as the leaders of a coterie of dynamic young men battling a sclerotic old guard to construct a vigorous national government. This interpretation is not quite borne out in the text. Hamilton played a secondary role, and the new Constitution was actually championed by such pillars of the old guard as George Washington, on whom the author lavishes much adulation. And there's the question of whether Madison's crafting of the Constitution, an undoubtedly masterful political balancing act, was quite the work of visionary genius the author considers it. Historian Cerami, author of the excellent Jefferson's Great Gamble, gives an astute rundown of the political antagonisms and compromises embedded in the Constitution, noting its accommodations to slavery, its uneasy truce between state and federal power, and the backwardness of an independent presidency in comparison with British-style parliamentary supremacy. But he avoids the kind of deeper critiques of the Constitution made by Dan Lazare and others who view its mechanisms as antiquated. With Cerami's reverence toward the "sacred relic," this book falls short of a trenchant analysis. . (July 5)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Booklist

Narrating the ordainment of the Constitution, Cerami follows in the tradition of such classics as Miracle at Philadelphia, by Catherine Drinker Bowen (1966), and the pithy Brilliant Solution, by Carol Berkin (2002). Cerami's rendition of the familiar events--from the momentum to hold a constitutional convention, to its deliberations, to the fight for ratification--strives to dispel their very familiarity by creating a you-are-there atmosphere via the figures of James Madison and Alexander Hamilton. Cerami evokes the look and heat of Philadelphia in the summer, building his atmospheric prose on the foundation of Madison's concept of a new constitutional structure. Though the transitions between descriptive material and Madison's ideas can be abrupt and simply digressive, Cerami's prose smoothes out upon reaching Independence Hall and the fateful compromises made inside. Notes and a bibliography lend the work to student research, yet recreational readers who enjoyed Cerami's account of the Louisiana Purchase (Jefferson's Great Gamble, 2003) will be the primary audience for this reconstruction of 1787. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Library Binding: 354 pages
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1435283589
  • ISBN-13: 978-1435283589
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 5.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #9,643,720 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.6 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By C. Hutton on June 26, 2005
Format: Hardcover
With the recent spate of published books on the era of the American Revolution (see "1776" for starters), Mr. Cerami fills a void in his tale of the creation and the subsequent ratification of the US Constitution in 1787-1788. "Young Patriots" tells the story of what kind of nation should the United States be -- a loose collection of sovereign states or a strong sovereign nation with centralized powers.

Most Americans are unaware of the little-known political brawl over the ratification process that nearly failed to pass the Constitution -- i.e. New York approved it by a nail-biting vote of 30-27 while Virginia had a narrow 89-79 margin. Alexander Hamilton of New York and James Madison of Virginia were the winning "floor managers" for the Federalists of their respective states.

"Young Patriots" is a readable, lively account of the birth of American politics. Mr. Cerami wrote a political sequel of sorts with "Jefferson's Great Gamble" (2003), his rendition of the Louisiana Purchase. Other tales of this fascinating era includes Catherine Drinker Bowen's "Miracle At Philadelphia" (1966), another perspective on the Constitutional Convention, and Joel Achenbach's "The Grand Idea" (2004), the story of the deals made for the founding of our nation's capital.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By treksg on June 24, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Overall, I enjoyed reading the book (please keep this in mind as you read what I am about to say), but I often found myself questioning if some of the information Cerami includes is necessary given the subject of the book. For example, in the chapter entitled "Jefferson Reacts," he spend most of the chapter talking about what Jefferson was writing about during his time in Paris, and only at the end shares Jefferson's reaction to the proposed Constitution. In dealing with Washington, he talks a great deal about his love of farming and his relationship with the Society of the Cincinnati, which while important for background and mindset is way overdone at the expense of more pertinent information.

Yet, while there is excess in those areas, information on other people and subjects are lacking. While the title and cover implies a major role for Hamilton that is not the case for significant periods in the book. I yearned for more pertinent info on Washington and other supposedly key figures such as Franklin and Read. I felt areas like the later stages of the convention, the actual signing, the mindset of general population, were rushed and only touched the surface.

If you delete the unnecessary content, I felt this 320 page book (paperback) could easily be cut of 75 to 100 pages. Yet, if some of the giant historical figures in the book, key supporting characters, and aforementioned breezed over areas where discussed more in-depth and in a focused manner, the book could easily double in size. In short, I learned a lot and enjoyed the book, but would have liked more focus.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By akalanka on July 10, 2012
Format: Paperback
Why this book was not titled the "Beatification of James Madison" I will never know. The author's shameful acclamatory treatment of Madison makes it irrelevant as a work of even nominal scholarship. Further, there is no need for the prevarication of potential readers regarding Hamilton. This book has nothing worthwhile to say about the man, as the title would have you believe. Hamilton is only mentioned in passing and accept for a few minor concessions, despairingly at that. A few of the more obvious points Mr. Cerami "confuses" or just flat out misinterprets are briefly addressed below:

Never in all the many materials personally encountered over the years on the Founding Generation have I encountered Madison (and Washington for that matter) referred to as "abolitionists," and Cerami's attempt to justify these men, for all their greatness, as abolitionist "at heart" who only had the precedency of Union in sacrifice of condemning our newly founded republic to 75 more years of slavery is wanton. Especially when you consider Hamilton was the true abolitionist! How could the author fail to mention this rather amazing fact when the book is supposed to be a bifold study?

Too much credit is given to Madison for being so forward thinking. Simply, it would be impossible for any man at any point in history, to anticipate so much of what the future would entail. Again, the failure to juxtapose this with Hamilton's much more well documented ability to perceive the direction the country would take with upcoming generations is inexcusable.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert A. Byrne on April 2, 2007
Format: Paperback
This book would best be read with some skepticism.

Mr. Cerami makes some assumptions and statements that are not validated or justified. One example is his statement that Alexander Hamilton, "(apparently to guard against an accusation of monarchism)"..."did not favor a permanent president, but suggested an executive who would rule for no more than three years."

This is exactly the opposite of what Hamilton proposed. He favored an executive to serve for "good behavior," which meant for life, unless removed from office. The author says one thing, when reality was the opposite. I found this most frequently happened regarding Hamilton, leading me to believe the author wanted to put across a certain perspective about the man.

There are other places in which a blanket statement is made that isn't necessarily true, or at least subject to question. This account of the Convention relies on speculation and inferences. Some assertions are made based on what the author perceived the speaker's tone of voice and inflection were. How could this approach be more accurate than simply believing what the actual words were?

This is an ok book, but the reader can't assume it is completely accurate and should not solely rely on it as a source of information on the Convention.

Bob Byrne
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