James Madison and the Making of America

James Madison and the Making of America

by Kevin R. C. Gutzman
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James Madison and the Making of America by Kevin R. C. Gutzman

The first full-length biography, in over a decade, of James Madison, our fourth President and icon of the conservative movement


In the first new biography of James Madison in over a decade, historian Kevin Gutzman looks beyond Madison's traditional moniker-"The Father of the Constitution”-to find a more complex and realistic portrait of this influential Founding Father.  Instead of an idealized portrait of Madison, Gutzman treats readers to the story of a man who often performed his founding deeds in spite of himself:


 -Madison’s fame rests on his participation in the writing of The Federalist Papers and his role in drafting the Bill of Rights and Constitution. Yet, he thought that the Bill of Rights was unnecessary and insisted that it not be included in the unamended Constitution which, he lamented, was entirely inadequate and, likely, would soon fail.

-Madison helped to create the first American political party, the first party to call itself “Republican”, but only after he had argued that political parties, in general, were harmful.

-Madison served as Secretary of State and, then, as President during the early years of the United States and the War of 1812; however, the American foreign policy he implemented in 1801-1817 ultimately resulted in the British burning down the Capitol and the White House.

Virtually all of his great accomplishments, such as his contributions to The Federalist Papers, are now misunderstood.  His greatest legacy—the disestablishment of Virginia’s state church and adoption of the libertarian Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom—is often omitted from discussion of his career.  As we come up to another election year, Kevin Gutzman's James Madison and the Making of America promises to become the standard biography of our fourth President.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780312625009
Publisher: St. Martin's Press
Publication date: 02/14/2012
Pages: 432
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.50(d)

About the Author

Kevin R. C. Gutzman is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution, of Virginia's American Revolution, and (with Thomas E. Woods, Jr.) of Who Killed the Constitution? The Fate of American Liberty from World War I to George W. Bush. He is Professor of History at Western Connecticut State University and lives in Bethel, Connecticut.

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James Madison and the Making of America 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 6 reviews.
Ssmits More than 1 year ago
Ask average persons on the street who is the most revered founding father and they'll likely say "Washington" or "Jefferson". Fair enough: Washington for his guiding example of leadership (more for what he could have done but didn't) and Jefferson for his lofty political ideals. But, if you want to appreciate the practical founding architect of our political model you must know Madison. Gutzman's gives us a very close look at Madison's brilliant work toward the establishment of the nation. We have lost our awareness of how improbable was the outcome the constitution sought to create. How unlikely it was that a loose conglomeration of states with their own political cultures, conflicting economic interests and deep suspicion of centralized power could form a unified national government with substantive power to govern. Thanks to Madison's detailed recordings of the constitutional convention's proceedings (and this while he was actively participating in the debates) we get deep insights into how difficult the issues were to resolve. Gutzman gives us the deliberations of the delegates from a nearly daily perspective. The difficulty of reaching compromise points to the complexity of finding the right balance of power between the states and the national government, between the branches of the national government, between the power of the majority v. protecting minorities and the struggle to balance the role of the "democracy" v. "republicianism" governed by the elite. We are also reminded through Gutzman's history of the convention and the advocacy for its adoption that followed that the thorny issues were not completely resolved. The relationship between the powers of the national government and the states is still at issue as is the balance between individual liberty and collective power of government. Madison's worry about the destructive impact of "factions" is as pertinent today as it was in the late 1700's -- just turn on the nightly news! Gutzman's book is well worth the read. It is not a psychological, personality oriented portrait of Madison, but it does provide an invaluable guide to the conceptual framework and deep challenges of forming and sustaining a lasting political compact.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
James Madison comes through in Dr. Gutzman's account as the essential participant in creating the American tradition of constitutional government. Gutzman's clear writing, great wit, and thorough research make this the best Madison book. I loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A fun book to read. My only issue with the book was the author's decisions to dubiously link more current events with history. For example, at one point the author says, "Clearly, Madison anticipated a far more restrained judicial ethic than the judiciary has come to display." This, however, is not clear. The Supreme court might refuse to hear a case or kicks it back down to lower courts. Often there is no resolve through legislation. Perhaps Congress should be more judicious in its writing and revising of laws so that the judicial branch doesn't have to intervene in order to protect the rights of the minority that the majority is trampling upon (clearly, one of Madison's overriding concerns :) I recommend the book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I find the writer's style difficult to follow. Admittedly, all of the facts regarding Madison are accurate. But, presented without any reflection on Madison's personal journey. A hard read for me.
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