- Hardcover: 304 pages
- Publisher: Basic Books; 1 edition (September 27, 2011)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0465019838
- ISBN-13: 978-0465019830
- Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars See all reviews (61 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #376,121 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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James Madison Hardcover – September 27, 2011
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“Richard Brookhiser has written a lively, deeply informed, and penetrating look at the small man who played such a big role in America’s founding. Father of the Constitution, prime mover behind approval of the Bill of Rights, trusted advisor and confidant to the young nation’s first president, and its fourth chief executive himself, James Madison is also our country’s first practical politician. He founded not just the first American political party, but also the American system of party politics itself. For James Madison had come—after long study and extended practical experience—to believe deeply in majority rule, public opinion, and a government of, by and for the people.”
“Though he came of age under the influence and tutelage of luminaries like George Washington and Thomas Jefferson, Brookhiser’s portrayal of Madison grounds him in the backbiting, often inglorious machinations of his contemporary political system; this approach is both significant and refreshing in presenting Madison as a flawed man, rather than a godlike ‘founding father.’… A useful introduction to a man who is often out shone by his presidential predecessors but who nevertheless was instrumental in creating our modern political system.”
Joseph J. Ellis, author of First Family: Abigail and John Adams
“Brookhiser brings his succinct style to bear on the only founder more elusive than Jefferson. The result is a distinctive portrait of Madison as America's original man for all seasons.”
“[Brookhiser’s] prose is concise and readable…. Mr. Brookhiser’s James Madison captures the delicate, complex and important ideas Madison formed and the lengths he went to to see to fruition the events that have contributed to the success of the experiment of a republic.”
“Richard Brookhiser’s new biography of Madison shares [John] Adams’s deeper insight into Madison’s achievements. It is a short, readable account of Madison’s remarkable political career from a good and perceptive writer.”
“Madison is remembered today as one of the key framers of the Constitution and the drafter of the Bill of Rights; as the husband of the vivacious Dolley Madison; and as the president who barely escaped capture by the British punitive expedition that raided Washington during the War of 1812. But he deserves to be remembered for a great deal more. Richard Brookhiser, in the latest in his series of concise and highly readable books about the Founding Fathers, conveys the man in full and files a strong paternity suit pointing to Madison as the father of American politics.”
“The father of the U.S. Constitution and fourth president of this nation deserves all the praise given him by Richard Brookhiser in a perceptive new book, James Madison…. To those who love history coupled with politics, here is a chance to become wiser while enjoying doing so. Thank you, Richard Brookhiser, for bringing Madison alive on the printed page.”
“[A] smart, stylishly written portrait…. Balanced and persuasive.”
“Brookhiser’s new book, simply titled, James Madison, makes the case that Madison should be remembered, too. That’s a timely message as a presidential election year approaches, and voters sort through the qualities they deem most effective for the nation’s commander-in-chief…. [Madison] would probably look at the ongoing presidential campaign season and find a world not unlike his own. Whether he would find that development worthy of regret or celebration is anybody’s guess.”
“An astute, witty biography…. [Brookhiser’s] concise account deserves high marks.”
“Having previously examined the ‘Holy Trinity’ of the Federalist Party (Washington, Hamilton, and Adams), Brookhiser turns his relaxed and accessible writing style to the oracle of American constitutionalism and ‘father of modern politics.’… He has produced an exceptional synopsis of the essential founder’s political life…. Brookhiser gives fans of the Revolutionary generation and those interested in the origins of American politics an engaging and succinct narrative.”
National Review online
“If you want to read an engaging account of the life of the Father of the Constitution, this is the book for you… The prose is clear and reader-friendly.”
“When walking the halls of the Revolutionary and early Federal periods, Brookhiser is a writer of the Plutarchan stamp, capable of reducing his subjects to their essence without resort to the gross simplifications of the reductionist. He tells us what we should know, not – exhaustively – what we might know. His books have a light touch, and the characters who emerge from his pages take on the reality they deserve. They don’t gather dust; they cast shadows…. Brookhiser simply shines pinpoints of light, penetratingly, into the more obscure corners of Madison’s life and work, raises his achievements into higher relief, and elevates this founder to a proper, merited place among his brethren. And that is much.”
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Top Customer Reviews
While Brookhiser's biography of Madison provides a great historical timeline of his life, it really does not capture who Madison was. He goes to great lengths to paint a human portrait of his wife Dolley, but fails to capture anything about the personality of the "father of the US Constitution. Following the detail shown for this type of writing by Chernow and McCullough, I found this unsatisfying as if something was missing from the book.
Overall, the history is fine and the prose well written. The book itself was easy to follow and understand. But if you are a student of the psychology of leaders, this book leaves something to be desired.
For a historical perspective, this book does near 5 stars. For a complete profile of James Madison he man, it was a little disappointing.
Madison. The author seems to put
forward the notion that he was a mildly principled practical politician.
Maybe that's what made Madison tick,
and maybe the thesis is what the
author intended to convey. If so the
author did a good job. I finished the book with a sense that I still really don't know Madison and I'm unsure if
If there was more to the man, or as one writer posited (in The Presidents we Deserved...) Madison was a near Zero. I'm going to try to read another biography of Madison to further try to
understand if anything made him tick besides politics.
Unfortunately, I only got a third of the way through the book before I had to put it down and find another Madison bio. I found this book utterly annoying.
Rather than describe the history of events and Madison's interaction with them, Brookhiser instead describes the history of events and then inserts his own (often snarky) interpretation of Madison's reaction to them, before finally providing some evidence which is only occasionally the most important thing that Madison may have said or thought at the time. It seems that Brookhiser often subverts the really important stuff to provide evidence that Brookhiser is smarter or more refined than Madison.
I did not buy this book to get Brookhiser's analysis of Madison. I bought it to get a history of Madison, which I would then use to make my own analysis of Madison. I'm pretty smart. I don't need Brookhiser to make my opinions for me.
If you want to be lectured to by a supposedly great historian, perhaps this book will satisfy you, but I found it arrogant and had to put it down.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
This is the hard cover edition.
I’ve read Ralph Ketcham’s lengthy James Madison biography, and also Donald Hickey’s book on the War of 1812.Read more