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By Joel Mayer on 08-05-12
OK book but not a biography
This book is sometimes miscast as a biography, which, in my opinion, it is not. A biography tells the life story of its subject. The best ones, such as Ellis' and Chernow's biographies of Washington, Chernow's biography of Hamilton, and Isaacson's biography of Einstein show how their beliefs developed and show continuity or explain their changes in attitude. This book is more closely related to Jon Meacham's "American Lion" about Andrew Jackson in that it really only covers their public life after they entered onto the national stage.
With that caveat in mind this is a worthwhile read/listen. While it doesn't give any real particular insights into Madison's character than can be gleaned from other readings it does give enough of a twist to them to make them not just a restatement of things others have said.
Odd feature: I think I heard several times where the reader (and author?) made a simple mistake in their dates. At one point I thought I heard the reader say that "In 1971 Jefferson and Madison were..." Clearly the date is wrong and when I simply made it 1771 it made perfect sense. There were at least 3-4 occasions where this happened. It is kind of frustrating to have to change the reader's words in your mind while you listen, though.
7 of 7 people found this review helpful
By C. Larson on 01-27-12
Things I Didn't Know I Didn't Know
There are those who speak and write of the Founding Fathers as if they determinedly soared above the gravitational pull of politics and ambition. This book offers further reminders of the wrongheadedness of that assumption. Madison was the consummate political operative and played a seminal role in developing our political party system. That insight alone makes this book worth knowing.
As I traveled with and through this book I learned about Madison???s backstage maneuvering to instigate the Constitutional Convention. I discovered more about his connections to Washington and Jefferson???whom he admired???and his interactions with Hamilton and Monroe???with whom he occasionally found common ground. How his gift for studied political action influenced his relationships with these other Founders is the truly fascinating core of this book
The narrator never slowed my listening and took a perfect tone???scholarly but secretly entertained by the twists of President Madison???s story. As a result, I was informed and entranced and sorry to hear Madison???s life come to an end.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful