"With Labunski's book we now have a very readable and reliable narrative of how Madison gave birth to the Bill of Rights."Gordon S. Wood, Professor of History, Brown University
"Watch the wig powder fly as James Madison and Patrick Henry slug it out over the constitutional freedoms we take for granted today."Atlantic Monthly
"A virtue of Labunski's account is the generous attention he gives to Anti-Federalist luminaries like Patrick Henry, George Mason, and Richard Henry Leefigures 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."Gary Rosen, The New York Times Book Review
"This engaging study views the Bill of Rights as the crowning achievement of America's constitutional architect... An interesting story, full of sonorous oratory and colorful details of 18th-century politicking. The result is a lively look at the rickety early republic and Madison's great balancing act."Publishers Weekly
"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... A highly recommended analysis that will be useful for public and academic libraries."Library Journal (starred review)
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
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.
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.