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History of the United States During the Administrations of James Madison (Library of America Series) Hardcover – July 4, 1986
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A master of English prose ... a history yet to be replaced. -- C. Vann Woodward, The New York Times Book Review
From the Publisher
The Library of America is an award-winning, nonprofit program dedicated to publishing America's best and most significant writing in handsome, enduring volumes, featuring authoritative texts. Hailed as "the most important book-publishing project in the nation's history" (Newsweek), this acclaimed series is restoring America's literary heritage in "the finest-looking, longest-lasting edition ever made" (New Republic).
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-- a comprehesive account of the two Madison administrations, including policies, military history, diplomatic initiatives, and economic performance;
-- vivid prose with a clear point of view;
-- an excellent sequel to his masterpiece on the Jefferson administrations.
This book is profoundly well written and how refreshing to have an actual "writer" relate American history with such fine detail and such interesting prose. There is brilliance in this book. He took the time to digest the original papers written by both the Presidential administrations and Congress. Unfortunately, he often quotes the direct papers of his sources which can slow down the reading a bit. He incorporated English and French sources as well, which makes this a fine diplomatic history book as well. This is a very refreshing change for history books, which are usually quite boring and not written with the craftsmanship of a Nobel prize winning writer.
The books are long, but the chapters read quickly. I read one to two chapters per night. I couldn't wait to get to bed so I could find out, for example, what was to happen in the War of 1812. Did you know that we started out that war with some embarrassing losses and scandals? We had old and crusty administrative Generals that didn't prosecute the war effectively. We also had some surprising victories against the British Navy.
You will learn funny, tragic, interesting and minute details of our founding fathers. I was able to get the gist of the personality of Jefferson as his own supreme intelligence seemed to get in the way of his constitutional values. Remember those little things like the Louisiana Purchase, the Embargo that pushed all American business underground, the coveting of the Floridas and Canada? Well, those things weren't "Constitutional.."
The other revealed personality is that of James Madison. An apparently timid man with a very poor track record as Secretary of State and a very poor ability to get ready for the War of 1812. His brain power is obviously much less than that of Jefferson, Napoleon and the British Ministers such as George Caning. Madison very much struggles in Jefferson's absence and darn near falls on his face.
We have James Monroe. An opportunistic, mid-level brain who gives the impression that his sexiness as a war hero could make up for his shortcomings and errors as a diplomat. There is also a fascinating character of Aaron Burr, who, by the way, was trying to get the Western United states to leave the Union so he could be president of the "West.." He was so powerful that he wasn't even arrested! In fact, he becomes a big time NYC lawyer...
Guys and Gals: I could go on for hours on these books. Please purchase them for this reason--the Library of America is a fantastic American Institution and produces these gorgeous, lasting volumes. You must read this book. I've read the criticisms of this book on Wikipedia: "there are errors!" I just don't buy that. I learned an incredible amount of information in this book that is not taught in High School or College.
The take home message is that America has survived due to the hard work, perseverance and basic love of liberty of the American People! And that's what you will learn in this book.