James Madison: A Life Reconsidered

James Madison: A Life Reconsidered

4.7 10
by Lynne Cheney, Eliza Foss
     
 

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A major new biography of the fourth president of the United States by New York Times bestselling author Lynne Cheney
 
This majestic new biography of James Madison explores the astonishing story of a man of vaunted modesty who audaciously changed the world. Among the Founding Fathers, Madison was a true genius of the early

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Overview

A major new biography of the fourth president of the United States by New York Times bestselling author Lynne Cheney
 
This majestic new biography of James Madison explores the astonishing story of a man of vaunted modesty who audaciously changed the world. Among the Founding Fathers, Madison was a true genius of the early republic.
 
Outwardly reserved, Madison was the intellectual driving force behind the Constitution and crucial to its ratification. His visionary political philosophy and rationale for the union of states—so eloquently presented in The Federalist papers—helped shape the country Americans live in today.
 
Along with Thomas Jefferson, Madison would found the first political party in the country’s history—the Democratic Republicans. As Jefferson’s secretary of state, he managed the Louisiana Purchase, doubling the size of the United States. As president, Madison led the country in its first war under the Constitution, the War of 1812. Without precedent to guide him, he would demonstrate that a republic could defend its honor and independence—and remain a republic still.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Audio
★ 09/01/2014
Former Second Lady Cheney’s meticulously researched biography peels away the myths and legends surrounding Madison, one of America’s Founding Fathers, to reveal a brilliant, driven, complex, and flawed human being. The book follows Madison from his youth, through the Revolutionary War, to the courtship of his darling wife Dolly, to the presidency, and beyond. Foss presents this rigorous history with smooth eloquence. Her pleasant voice and straightforward delivery complements Cheney’s authoritative yet conversational prose. Foss’s steady pacing enhances Cheney’s analysis, never allowing the audiobook edition to fall into monotony despite its large scope. A Viking hardcover. (May)
The New York Times Book Review - Gordon S. Wood
…Cheney's biography is lucidly written (her description of the Madisons' actions during the burning of the buildings in the capital in 1814 is especially dramatic), and she clearly brings to life the character and personality of Madison. Apart from Ralph Louis Ketcham's 1971 life, this is probably the best single-volume biography of Madison that we now have.
Publishers Weekly
★ 03/17/2014
In a meticulously researched, richly detailed look at the life and times of Madison, former Second Lady Cheney (We the People) fleshes out the achievements and struggles of this American Founding Father. As much a biography of the statesman, intellectual, and politician who rose to become President as a history of the country’s tumultuous post-Revolutionary War growth, the work covers a lot of ground. Authoritative, conversational, certainly confident in its analysis, the book paints Madison as a man of great accomplishments; one who struggled against setbacks, political opponents, and health problems. Cheney does veer uncomfortably close to hero worship: “Madison’s time of extraordinary achievement came after years of intense focus, deep concentration, and nearly obsessive effort, behavior that describes most lives of genius, from Sir Isaac Newton’s to Mozart’s to Einstein’s.” However, she does show his impressive influence in helping to forge a nation out of chaos through constant debate and begrudging compromise. Cheney conclusively demonstrates through the historical record that Madison, in word and deed, was a primary figure in shaping early American development and successfully establishes “a deeper understanding of the man who did more than any other to conceive and establish the nation we know.” Agent: Robert Barnett, Williams & Connolly. (May)
From the Publisher
Praise for James Madison: A Life Reconsidered

“With this compelling, elegant, original biography, Lynne Cheney brings the great, elusive James Madison back to life, reminding us of how powerfully this brilliant founder’s political and intellectual leadership has shaped the course of American history. In this era in which Madison is too often eclipsed by more histrionic founders, Cheney shows us his crucial, fascinating relationships with Dolley, Thomas Jefferson and an all-star cast, and lets us witness the growth of a world-changing political philosopher. Her book demonstrates why Madison deserves to stand near the center of our early American firmament.”  
—Michael Beschloss, author of The Conquerors and Presidential Courage
 
“Lucidly written . . . this is probably the best single-volume bio of Madison that we now have.”
—Gordon Wood, New York Times Book Review
 
“The book is a lovingly researched tribute to an often-underestimated man. It does not explicitly refer to modern controversies. But present-day politics intrudes.”
The Economist
 
“[A] meticulously researched, richly detailed look at the life and times of Madison. Former Second Lady Cheney fleshes out the achievements and struggles of this American founding father. . . . [A]uthoritative, conversational, certainly confident in its analysis.” 
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“James Madison did as much to put his stamp on the nation as any of the founders, yet too rarely is he given his due in the pantheon of America’s statesman. In this stunning, brilliant work, Lynne Cheney rectifies this glaring oversight, and brings Madison to life as never before. Written with subtlety and grace, the book is as groundbreaking as it is fresh, as enthralling as it is compulsively readable. It is nothing short of a masterpiece that deserves to be in the bookshelf of every history buff!”
—Jay Winik, author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval
 
“A nuanced study on its own and a thoughtful presentation by one of today’s prominent public intellectuals.”
Library Journal
 
 “Cheney might have written a book that made Madison a prop in today’s political battles. She did not, which is greatly to her credit and true to the life of the man.”
Washington Post
 
“After more than twenty-five years working on the Madison Papers, it’s not often that I read something about him that is fresh and engaging, and discovers new aspects of his life and character.  Cheney’s exploration of Madison’s health issues, not only as a young man, but throughout his career, is imaginative and groundbreaking. Her writing is both fluid and polished; the tone is measured and judicious; there isn’t a strident note in the whole book. And, an added plus, her treatment of Madison as a political actor is informed by a sophisticated knowledge of politics, without in any way being presentist.” 
—David B. Mattern, Research Professor and Senior Associate Editor, Papers of James Madison, University of Virginia
 
“On the whole [Cheney] offers a lucid, well-paced, wonderfully written, and authoritative history. Very well worth your time.”
 —National Review
 
“This is the James Madison we always should have known about. Thanks to Lynne Cheney’s well-researched book, it’s the James Madison we will now always know.”
The Washington Times
 
“The Constitution remains Madison’s greatest legacy. Cheney’s detailed biography helps renew appreciation for the man behind it.”
Pittsburgh Tribune Review
 
“Lynne Cheney has written what may be the most authoritative and comprehensive book ever on the life of Founding Father and President James Madison. It offers a fascinating perspective into how brilliant Madison truly was.”
Intellectual Conservative

Lynne Cheney
Praise for James Madison: A Life Reconsidered
by Lynne Cheney

“With this compelling, elegant, original biography, Lynne Cheney brings the great, elusive James Madison back to life. . . .”
Michael Beschloss, author of The Conquerors and Presidential Courage

“Lucidly written . . . this is probably the best single volume bio of Madison that we now have.”
 —Gordon Wood, New York Times Book Review

“Graceful and balanced . . . Cheney makes clear that Madison was a practical politician . . . principled but pragmatic, sincere but complex. His world was complicated. So is ours, and it [could] use more people like him.”
 —H. W. Brands, The Washington Post
 
“A lovingly researched tribute to an often underestimated man. It does not explicitly refer to modern controversies. But present-day politics intrudes.”
The Economist

“[In this] meticulously researched, richly detailed look at the life and times of Madison, former Second Lady Cheney fleshes out the achievements and struggles of this American founding father. . . . Authoritative, conversational, certainly confident in its analysis.”
Publishers Weekly
 
“Written with subtlety and grace, [James Madison] is as groundbreaking as it is fresh, as enthralling as it is compulsively readable. It is nothing short of a masterpiece. . . .”
Jay Wink, author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval

“A nuanced study on its own and a thoughtful presentation by one of today’s prominent public intellectuals.”
Library Journal
 
“[Lynne Cheney’s] writing is both fluid and polished; the tone is measured and judicious. Her treatment of Madison . . . is informed by a sophisticated knowledge of politics, without in any way being presentist.”
David B. Mattern, senior associate editor, Papers of James Madison, University of Virginia

“[Cheney] offers a lucid, well-paced, wonderfully written, and authoritative history. Very well worth your time.”
 —National Review
 
“This is the James Madison we always should have known about. Thanks to Lynne Cheney’s well-researched book, it’s the James Madison we will now always know.”
The Washington Times
 
“The Constitution remains Madison's greatest legacy. Cheney's detailed biography helps renew appreciation for the man behind it.”
Pittsburgh Tribune Review

“Lynne Cheney has written what may be the most authoritative and comprehensive book ever on the life of Founding Father and President James Madison. It offers a fascinating perspective into how brilliant Madison truly was.”
Intellectual Conservative

Library Journal
04/15/2014
Cheney (We the People: The Story of Our Constitution), an American Enterprise Institute senior fellow and former second lady of the United States, looks anew at a foundational figure of the early American republic in an analysis of James Madison's life, beliefs, character, and influences. Although notable biographies of Madison (1751–1836) appeared in 2013 (Kevin R.C. Gutzman's James Madison and the Making of America; Jeff Broadwater's James Madison: A Son of Virginia and a Founder of the Nation), Cheney, in a primary-sourced, sprightly, and innovative study, emphasizes how this theorist and practical politician successfully utilized what might have been impediments in other statesmen. Madison's relative reserve allowed him to work with varying personality types; his occasional indispositions, identified here as consistent with epilepsy, fostered his understanding of others. Despite his ideological rivalry with Alexander Hamilton regarding the proper role of federal government, the nonconfrontational Madison was deftly able to advise George Washington, who often supported Hamilton's positions. While he has a reputation as the Constitution's primary author, Madison helped to establish the party system, an entity not described in the founding documents. In this balanced account, Cheney portrays the man's interaction with his advisor and wife, Dolley, as well as with other political actors. VERDICT A nuanced study on its own and a thoughtful presentation by one of today's prominent public intellectuals. This title is useful and accessible on many levels, for its biographical revelations, particularly regarding Madison's health and the basis of his temperament, and as a cerebral encounter with a Founder with a lasting legacy.—Frederick J. Augustyn Jr., Lib. of Congress, Washington, DC
Kirkus Reviews
2014-03-12
A Founding Father gets a respectful reappraisal. Author and former second lady Cheney (We the People: The Story of Our Constitution, 2008, etc.) puts another feather in her patriotic hat with this life of James Madison (1751-1836), fourth president, forger of the Constitution and friend of Thomas Jefferson. While he never studied the law or pursued the military, mostly due to his ill health, which was perceived then as epilepsy, Madison was a doer, translating his passionate defense of the Baptists' right to worship in Virginia into activism in the patriotic cause of the Virginia Convention. Working with Jefferson in fashioning the Virginia constitution, Madison was drafting the blueprint that would become the U.S. Constitution, including the important early tenet for religious liberty. A diligent member of the Continental Congress, he, along with Alexander Hamilton, proposed a states' revenue to pay the new country's debts and promoted Jefferson as peace negotiator in Paris. Drawing from his deep readings in Enlightenment philosophers, Madison was taking notes during every moment in the Philadelphia debates concerning the overhaul of the Articles of the Confederation, as the delegates wrangled over every aspect of the legislative, executive and judiciary branches. He suspected that the approved Constitution failed to rein in the "unwise and wicked proceedings" of the states. The threat of New York's failure to ratify prompted Madison, Hamilton and John Jay to anonymously pen the Federalist Papers. Madison's most famous was Federalist 10, which warned of "factions" in causing government failure. Beating James Monroe for representative to the First Congress from Virginia, Madison helped George Washington revise his inaugural address, and he shaped the Bill of Rights. As president, he weathered the British storm of 1812 and kept the union intact. Cheney duly covers her subject's life in a thorough yet somewhat bland narrative. A proficiently argued account for Madison's greatness, but it lacks the political thrusts of Garry Wills, Richard Brookhiser and other historians.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781611762785
Publisher:
Penguin Random House Audio Publishing Group
Publication date:
05/06/2014
Sales rank:
540,034
Product dimensions:
5.20(w) x 5.80(h) x 1.50(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
Praise for James Madison: A Life Reconsidered

“With this compelling, elegant, original biography, Lynne Cheney brings the great, elusive James Madison back to life, reminding us of how powerfully this brilliant founder’s political and intellectual leadership has shaped the course of American history. In this era in which Madison is too often eclipsed by more histrionic founders, Cheney shows us his crucial, fascinating relationships with Dolley, Thomas Jefferson and an all-star cast, and lets us witness the growth of a world-changing political philosopher. Her book demonstrates why Madison deserves to stand near the center of our early American firmament.”  
—Michael Beschloss, author of The Conquerors and Presidential Courage
 
“Lucidly written . . . this is probably the best single-volume bio of Madison that we now have.”
—Gordon Wood, New York Times Book Review
 
“The book is a lovingly researched tribute to an often-underestimated man. It does not explicitly refer to modern controversies. But present-day politics intrudes.”
The Economist
 
“[A] meticulously researched, richly detailed look at the life and times of Madison. Former Second Lady Cheney fleshes out the achievements and struggles of this American founding father. . . . [A]uthoritative, conversational, certainly confident in its analysis.” 
Publishers Weekly (starred review)
 
“James Madison did as much to put his stamp on the nation as any of the founders, yet too rarely is he given his due in the pantheon of America’s statesman. In this stunning, brilliant work, Lynne Cheney rectifies this glaring oversight, and brings Madison to life as never before. Written with subtlety and grace, the book is as groundbreaking as it is fresh, as enthralling as it is compulsively readable. It is nothing short of a masterpiece that deserves to be in the bookshelf of every history buff!”
—Jay Winik, author of April 1865 and The Great Upheaval
 
“A nuanced study on its own and a thoughtful presentation by one of today’s prominent public intellectuals.”
Library Journal
 
 “Cheney might have written a book that made Madison a prop in today’s political battles. She did not, which is greatly to her credit and true to the life of the man.”
Washington Post
 
“After more than twenty-five years working on the Madison Papers, it’s not often that I read something about him that is fresh and engaging, and discovers new aspects of his life and character.  Cheney’s exploration of Madison’s health issues, not only as a young man, but throughout his career, is imaginative and groundbreaking. Her writing is both fluid and polished; the tone is measured and judicious; there isn’t a strident note in the whole book. And, an added plus, her treatment of Madison as a political actor is informed by a sophisticated knowledge of politics, without in any way being presentist.” 
—David B. Mattern, Research Professor and Senior Associate Editor, Papers of James Madison, University of Virginia
 
“On the whole [Cheney] offers a lucid, well-paced, wonderfully written, and authoritative history. Very well worth your time.”
 —National Review
 
“This is the James Madison we always should have known about. Thanks to Lynne Cheney’s well-researched book, it’s the James Madison we will now always know.”
The Washington Times
 
“The Constitution remains Madison’s greatest legacy. Cheney’s detailed biography helps renew appreciation for the man behind it.”
Pittsburgh Tribune Review
 
“Lynne Cheney has written what may be the most authoritative and comprehensive book ever on the life of Founding Father and President James Madison. It offers a fascinating perspective into how brilliant Madison truly was.”
Intellectual Conservative

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