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Publisher's Summary

In 1789, James Madison and James Monroe ran against each other for Congress - the only time that two future presidents have contested a congressional seat. But what was at stake, as author Chris DeRose reveals in Founding Rivals: Madison vs. Monroe, the Bill of Rights, and the Election That Saved a Nation, was more than personal ambition. This was a race that determined the future of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the very definition of the United States of America.
Friends and political allies for most of their lives, Madison was the Constitution's principal author, Monroe one of its leading opponents. Monroe thought the Constitution gave the federal government too much power and failed to guarantee fundamental rights. Madison believed that without the Constitution, the United States would not survive.
It was the most important congressional race in American history, more important than all but a few presidential elections, and yet it is one that historians have virtually ignored. In Founding Rivals, DeRose, himself a political strategist who has fought campaigns in Madison and Monroe's district, relives the campaign, retraces the candidates' footsteps, and offers the first insightful, comprehensive history of this high-stakes political battle.
DeRose reveals:


How Madison's election ensured the passage of a Bill of Rights - and how Monroe's election would have ensured its failure
How Madison came from behind to win a narrow victory (by a margin of only 336 votes) in a district gerrymandered against him
How the Bill of Rights emerged as a campaign promise to Virginia's evangelical Christians
Why Madison's defeat might have led to a new Constitutional Convention - and the breakup of the United States
Founding Rivals tells the extraordinary, neglected story of two of America's most important Founding Fathers. Brought to life by unparalleled research, it is one of the most provocative books of American political history you will listen to this year.
©2011 Chris DeRose (P)2012 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"A lively, clear-cut study of the myriad hurdles and uncertainty that characterized the first attempts to form the U.S. government." (Kirkus)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful

By Garshom L. Arkoff on 07-09-13

A Must for Anyone Interested in the Constitution

I am a big US History buff and care deeply about US political history and history of the US Constitution & Bill of Rights.

This book is written in a way that is approachable and interesting. The author gives the listener enough background and information to understand the players and issues without becoming dry. The account of the debates that went into creating the US Constitution are a must listen if you are a US history buff, a political junky or just someone who cares deeply about the Bill of Rights.

Before I listened to this book, I knew a fair amount about the revolutionary generation and the formation of the fledgling United States but I knew almost nothing about the efforts and issues that went into transforming the US Government from the Articles of Confederation to the US Constitution.

The only reason why I did not give the story five stars is that I felt like the early part of the book gives a lot of lead-up and background about the two main characters that, while potentially interesting, did not really help me better understand the issues and debates.

Highly recommended!

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