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James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights

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Overview

Today we hold the Constitution in such high regard that we can hardly imagine how hotly contested was its adoption. Now Richard Labunski offers a dramatic account of a time when the entire American experiment hung in the balance, only to be saved by the most unlikely of heroes—the diminutive and exceedingly shy James Madison.

Here is a vividly written account of not one but several major political struggles which changed the course of American history. Labunski takes us inside ...

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2006 AudioCD Good 10 AUDIO CDs withdrawn from the library collection. Some library sticker and stamp to the set. We take the time to polish each individual Audio CD for you to ... create a smoother listening experience. Enjoy this worthwhile Audio CD performance. Read more Show Less

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James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights

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Overview

Today we hold the Constitution in such high regard that we can hardly imagine how hotly contested was its adoption. Now Richard Labunski offers a dramatic account of a time when the entire American experiment hung in the balance, only to be saved by the most unlikely of heroes—the diminutive and exceedingly shy James Madison.

Here is a vividly written account of not one but several major political struggles which changed the course of American history. Labunski takes us inside the sweltering converted theater in Richmond, where for three grueling weeks, the soft-spoken Madison and the charismatic Patrick Henry fought over whether Virginia should ratify the Constitution. Madison won the day by a handful of votes, mollifying Anti-Federalist fears by promising to add a bill of rights to the Constitution. To do this, Madison would have to win a seat in the First Congress, which he did by a tiny margin, allowing him to attend the First Congress and sponsor the Bill of Rights.

Packed with colorful details about life in early America, this compelling and important narrative is the first serious book about Madison written in many years. It will return this under-appreciated patriot to his rightful place among the Founding Fathers and shed new light on a key turning point in our nation's history.

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Editorial Reviews

Gary Rosen
A virtue of Labunski's account is the generous attention he gives to Anti-Federalist luminaries like Henry, George Mason and Richard Henry Lee - figures too often overlooked in our reverential regard for the founding. For those used to thinking of the Bill of Rights as carved in stone, it is also instructive to see just how large a role accident played in its creation. The 10 amendments familiar to us started off as 17 in the House and were reduced to 12 by the Senate. The first two of these - on the size of the House and Congressional pay - didn't pass muster in the states, and so the third recommended amendment became, as if by fate, our famous First.
— The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
It will come as little surprise to learn that Poe is a veteran Broadway performer: in reading Labunski's chronicle of James Madison's efforts to ratify the Constitution and pass the Bill of Rights, his voice echoes with effortless assurance, carrying into the virtual back row of any room. Thankfully, Poe mostly avoids the vocal equivalent of theatrical preening and posing. His reading is careful, unassuming and avoids wholly unnecessary showboating. Labunski's narrative revolves around Madison's struggle with fellow Virginian Patrick Henry over ratification, and Poe does a fine job of conveying the steadily ratcheting tension of their battle. Poe colors Labunski's tale with an appropriate array of significant pauses, emphases and hushed mock-whispers, bringing his book to life without resorting to overworked theatrical tricks. He may be a stage veteran, but Poe's reading is anything but stagy. Simultaneous release with the Oxford hardcover (Reviews, May 8). (July) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
James Madison played an important role in both the development of the U.S. Constitution and the creation of its first ten amendments, i.e., the Bill of Rights. Relying on primary sources, Labunski (Sch. of Journalism & Telecommunications, Univ. of Kentucky: The Second Constitutional Convention: How the American People Can Take Back Their Government) carefully and lucidly examines how Madison and his political supporters and opponents (mostly Anti-Federalists) shaped the initial parameters of the Constitution and then further expressed their constitutional philosophies in the amendments that followed. Seven of the ten chapters focus on activities prior to the introduction of the Bill of Rights. In his thorough coverage of the activities of the Virginia Ratifying Convention, Labunski offers intriguing discussions of constitutional debates and provides an understanding of the political and social context of the early constitutional polity. He finds that Madison and other Federalists used strategies that would ensure adoption of constitutional ideas in both Virginia and other parts of the nation. He then goes on to examine Madison's transformation from opponent of amendments to the Constitution to a central advocate in the U.S. House of Representatives for passage of what would become the Bill of Rights. A highly recommended analysis that will be useful for public and academic libraries. Steven Puro, St. Louis Univ. Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781428102996
  • Publisher: Recorded Books, LLC
  • Publication date: 7/27/2006
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Unabridged

Meet the Author

Richard Labunski is a professor in the School of Journalism and Telecommunications at the University of Kentucky. The author of four other books, he previously taught at the University of Washington and Penn State and worked for ten years in radio and television news.

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Table of Contents

1 The Philadelphia Convention 3
2 The reluctant candidate 24
3 The road to Richmond 48
4 The Virginia ratifying convention 67
5 The ratification vote 96
6 The anti-federalists fight back 120
7 The election 147
8 Madison introduces the Bill of Rights 178
9 Congress proposes the Bill of Rights 213
10 Ratification of the Bill of Rights 242
11 Epilogue 256
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 – 6 of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 15, 2010

    Politics As Usual

    More proof that American politics hasn't changed a bit. Good ideas get both tossed out or modified in the name of compromise. For those who think that somehow America was pure at the beginning this book will enlighten the reader that political backstabbing, gossip and outright lies were and are the rule of the day. From gerrymandering the congressional districts in order to get a wanted result to writing newpaper articles to scare the voters it was all part of the program and yet semehow we got the first 10 ammendments. Although it took near 160 years before they became real for the average American, one can only imagine how this country might have developed had they not been ratified.

    James Madison, although not our finest President was an amazingly able behind the scenes facilitator and writer. Without his efforts and those of many others the Federal government would have had even more far reaching power than it already does. Considering the administration that just left office, one can only imagine the types of intrusions into our everyday lives that would have resulted had it not been for the Bill of Rights.

    1 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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