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James Madison: Writings: Writings 1772-1836 (Library of America) Hardcover – August 30, 1999

4.7 out of 5 stars 21 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

James Madison (1751-1836) was a prominent participant in the American Revolution and the framing of the U.S. Constitution and also served as Secretary of State and President of the United States. Rakove, Coe Professor of History and American Studies at Stanford University and a Pulitizer Prize-winning historian, offers an extensive volume of Madison's essays, speeches, and private memoranda from the Revolution and Articles of Confederation through his post-Presidential activities. The book's scope distinguishes it from similar one-volume efforts and allows us a broader view of Madison's thinking than presented in The Federalist. The chronological order helps readers examine different periods of Madison's thought, e.g., his Federalist Papers expound a theory of an extended republic and a general theory of separation of powers. Larger public and academic libraries will find Rakove's presentation useful for readers' understanding of Madison, whose writings are significant in advancing key ideas central to the American Republic.ASteven Puro, St. Louis Univ.
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Review

"Though these varied documents would have benefited from a good deal more historical stage-setting than is provided here, they still constitute an invaluable sampling from the work of our most original political thinker." -- Gary Rosen, author of American Compact: James Madison and the Problem of Founding; The Wall Street Journal, September 1, 1999
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Product Details

  • Series: Library of America (Book 109)
  • Hardcover: 966 pages
  • Publisher: Library of America (August 30, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1883011663
  • ISBN-13: 978-1883011666
  • Product Dimensions: 5.1 x 1.2 x 8.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #219,054 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
This volume captures the essence of Madison's writings through the editor's skill in presenting 191 documents out of an archive of more than 25000 documents. Mr. Rakove presents a generally balanced array of letters, speeches, and essays which are arranged chronologically. Included are all the Federalist Papers authored by Madison. The editor provided many documents dealing with the Jay Treaty and Alien and Sedition Act, but fell short in providing sufficient material during the period of Madison's cabinet position as Secretary of State, covering the Louisiana Purchase and the conflict with Britain and France prior to the War of 1812. That deficiency may well be based on lack of documentation. The book itself is elegant, beautifully printed and is provided with a copy of the Constitution, notes, an excellent chronology and a good index.
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I suspect the idea of reading a collection of writings by Madison, Washington, Hamilton and Jefferson to feel a little too much like home work for most of us to want to do it. I also believe fervently that if you really want to learn the history of this country that such a reading is a necessity.

Several years ago, I found a useful way around this paradox. Buy the Library of America volumes of the above individuals and keep them around for when you read contemporary works about the Founders.

I have recently read several books on Madison (right now I am going thru McCoy's excellent The Last of the Fathers). Whenever an author like McCoy mentions one of Madison's writings I go to my LOA Madison volume and read that writing first.

I have found this procedure to have several advantages. It allows me to form my own ideas about the document before McCoy (or whomever I am reading) can influence me. Thus I am provided a quick check on what they are asserting. Over time, this procedure has led me through much of the Jefferson and the Madison volumes. Sometimes I find myself bouncing back and forth between the volumes following a series of letters. (As an aside, it would be a great service if someone were to provide a well-chosen edition of their letters to each other.)

In general, I have found the Madsion volume to be extremely well-selected. I find about 80% of the documents referred to to be contained in this volume. Unlike the others, my major complaint is that there are not any of his notes on the debates during his tenure in the Continental Congress. I would have taken the more controversial route of leaving out Madison's essays from The Federalist. They are easily obtained and take up over 20% of this volume.
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Format: Hardcover
The American Founders are receiving a great deal of merited attention in popular histories such as "John Adams" and "The Founding Brothers." These books have the merits of readability and accesibility -- of providing knowledge and historical context of the early days of our country in a relatively short but informed compass.
The Library of America's series of writings by America's Founders -- including Washington, Jefferson, Hamilton and many others besides the book of James Madison's writings -- are longer and more difficult to read. They consist of original texts with only the slightest endnotes and historical chronology. (In this book of Madison's writings, the historical chrononogy is excellent) The disadvantage, if that is the correct word, of the Library of American's series is that reading these books takes substantial effort and digging. In addition, it is difficult to stop with one book, as each collection relates to and requires and understanding of the work of the other Founders. The advantage these books offer, though, can't be found anywhere else. They offer a chance to meet and encounter American's Founders in their own words and on their own terms and to see the development of their thoughts over time.
James Madison (1751-1836) was probably America's greatest political thinker. His career spanned the Revolutionary War, the formation of the Articles of the Confederation, the Constitution, and the Bill of Rights, the creation of party in America, the Louisiana Purchase, and the War of 1812, which occurred during his Presidency.
The Library of America's collection of over 900 pages offers a rare opportunity to read in one place the major writings of James Madison.
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Format: Hardcover
The history of the making of our Constitution can be read here. Much valuable insight into contemporary constitutional questions, including separation of Church and State (Madison was a fervent exponent of 'the wall'). A must have and must read for today's politically minded citizen. Surprises abound.
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I got this book used because it's a pretty penny. Now that I have in hand I think it would have been worth the cover price. It's a lovely book and it's a important read. As a living historian who portrays James Madison I believe the information in this book is amazingly important. As an American who believes we can only understand our Constitution by first understanding it's authors I believe that the writting of Madison are our starting point!
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