In a time when America is desperately searching for leadership comes this inspiring story of James Madison's coming of age, providing incisive and original insight into the Founding Father who did the most but is known the least.
Michael Signer takes a fresh look at the life of our fourth president. His focus is on Madison before he turned thirty-six, the years in which he did his most enduring work: battling with Patrick Henrythe most charismatic politician in revolutionary America, whose political philosophy and ruthless tactics eerily foreshadowed those of today's Tea Partyover religious freedom; introducing his framework for a strong central government; becoming the intellectual godfather of the Constitution; and providing a crucial role at Virginia's convention to ratify the Constitution in 1788, when the nation's future hung in the balance.
Signer's young James Madison is a role model for the leaders so badly needed today: a man who overcame daunting personal issues (including crippling anxiety attacks) to battle an entrenched and vicious status quo. Michael Signer's brilliant analysis of “Madison's Method,” the means by which Madison systematically destroyed dangerous ideas and left in their stead an enduring and positive vision for the United States, is wholly original and uniquely relevant today.
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About the Author
Michael Signer is an author, advocate, political theorist, and attorney. He holds a PhD in political science from U.C., Berkeley, where he was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow; a JD from the University of Virginia School of Law; and a BA in politics, magna cum laude, from Princeton University. He has taught political theory, leadership, and governance at the University of Virginia, Virginia Tech, and the University of California. He was counsel to Governor Mark Warner in Richmond, senior policy advisor at the Center for American Progress, and a candidate for lieutenant governor of Virginia in 2009. Dr. Signer is the author of Demagogue: The Fight to Save Democracy from Its Worst Enemies (2009). His writing has appeared in The Washington Post, The New Republic, and USA Today, and he reviews books for the Daily Beast. He has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, the BBC, and NPR. He lives with his wife and twin boys in Virginia.
Table of Contents
Time Line of Events in the Life of James Madison, 1751-1789 ix
1 "Our Passions Are Like Torrents" 25
2 The Good Doctor 33
3 A Nexus Imperii 47
4 The High Tract of Public Life 59
5 "The Annals of Heaven" 65
6 "If This Be Treason, Make the Most of It!" 81
7 Suspending His Intellectual Functions 89
8 All Men Are Equally Entitled 97
9 Councilor to Governor Henry 103
10 "Distrust of the Public Ability" 113
11 A Defect of Adequate Statesmen 119
12 The Coercive Power 131
13 A Sad Reunion 147
14 Kitty 151
15 A Remonstrance 161
16 Solitude and Reform 169
17 "A Little Rebellion" 177
18 The Vices 187
19 "On My Right & Left Hand" 193
20 The Campaign Begins 211
21 Several Mad Freaks 225
22 Ratification in Richmond 241
23 Extremely Feeble 259
24 Bugbears and Hobgoblins 277
25 The Revelations of Zachariah Johnson 283
26 Retaliation 287
27 Sedition 295
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I would highly recommend this book, particularly for young adults! As a graduating college senior, I was inspired and excited by the details of Madison’s efforts to pursue public service early in life and the huge impact that one college professor had on his career. Becoming Madison is not only easy to read but also offers practical lessons for goal-setting, leadership, and overcoming adversity that students can easily take into the workforce.
Becoming Madison is vital reading for all those struggling to find hope in today’s political climate. Michael Signer uses our often under-examined founder, James Madison, to provide historical context for the political partisanship we struggle with today. I highly recommend this book for political leaders and disgruntled voters alike, as it offers clues and hope for how we can move forward, towards a more productive political system.