The Last Founding Father

  • by Harlow Giles Unger
  • Narrated by Michael McConnohie
  • 12 hrs and 27 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook

Publisher's Summary

In this lively and compelling biography, Harlow Giles Unger reveals the dominant political figure of a generation. A fierce fighter in four critical Revolutionary War battles and a courageous survivor of Valley Forge and a near-fatal wound at the Battle of Trenton, James Monroe (1751 - 1831) went on to become America's first full-time politician, dedicating his life to securing America's national and international durability.
Decorated by George Washington for his exploits as a soldier, Monroe became a congressman, a senator, U.S. minister to France and Britain, governor of Virginia, secretary of state, secretary of war, and finally America's fifth president.
The country embraced Monroe's dreams of empire and elected him to two terms, the second time unanimously. Mentored by each of Americas first four presidents, Monroe was unquestionably the best prepared president in our history.
Like David McCullough's John Adams and Jon Meacham's recent book on Andrew Jackson, this new biography of Monroe is both a solid listen and a stellar scholarship history in the grand tradition.

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What the Critics Say

"[A] cogent reexamination of a relatively neglected American icon...Unger makes a solid and cohesive argument for Monroe's importance in the early years of the United States....A worthy attempt to rescue Monroe from obscurity for a mainstream audience." (Kirkus Reviews)
"[A] well-written biography...Unger presents the fifth president as a man of independence and initiative rather than merely a disciple of Jefferson, Madison, and John Quincy Adams...Will appeal to a more popular audience, especially those who enjoy presidential history or studying the Founding Fathers. Historians and history students should read as well." (Library Journal)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

Readable, but more hero worship than history

I am not a historian, but after having listened to several books about revolutionary era history and politics I found it difficult to listen to this one. Unger's Monroe almost never makes an error in judgement, is single-handedly responsible for America's post-Madison economic boom, and is heroic to all of his time. Even George Washington doesn't get this kind of hero worship - at least not in Chernow's "Washington, A Life".

That said, as a work of hero worship it is engaging and well written, and well performed by McConnohie. If historical perspective and balance is not your goal you will likely enjoy listening to it.

At the time I read it it was the only biography of Monroe on Audible so I can't suggest you to listen to a different one. However, if you're going to read it keep your skepticism on guard.
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- Robert Bartel

Unbalanced Hero Worship

This is by far the worst biography I have ever read, and I have read many. Right away in the Prologue when the author wrote "John Adams, Thomas Jefferson, and James Madison were mere caretaker presidents who left the nation bankrupt...", I knew I was in for a one-sided hero-worship biography, and that is what I got. The author portrays Monroe as faultless and virtually everyone except Washington as bumbling and malicious fools. The continuous adulatory adjectives chosen to portray Monroe and his wife, and the descriptions of how his admirers "trembled with emotion" and his adversaries "trembled with fear" became really, really annoying. I rarely yell at my audiobooks during my commute. This is just embarrassingly unprofessional history.
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- Michael

Book Details

  • Release Date: 12-11-2009
  • Publisher: Audible Studios