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

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Synopsis

In James Madison and the Making of America, historian Kevin Gutzman looks beyond the way James Madison is traditionally seen -- as "The Father of the Constitution” -- to find a more complex and sometimes contradictory portrait of this influential Founding Father and the ways in which he influenced the spirit of today's United States.  Instead of an idealized portrait of Madison, Gutzman treats readers to the flesh-and-blood 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. Today, his contribution to those documents is largely misunderstood.  He thought that the Bill of Rights was unnecessary and insisted that it not be included in the Constitution, a document he found entirely inadequate and predicted 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.  In so many ways, the contradictions both in Madison’s thinking and in the way he governed foreshadowed the conflicted state of our Union now.  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.  Yet, understanding the way in which Madison saw the relationship between the church and state is key to understanding the real man.  Kevin Gutzman's James Madison and the Making of America promises to become the standard biography of our fourth President.


 

About Kevin R. C. Gutzman

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KEVIN R. C. GUTZMAN is the author of The New York Times bestseller The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution, Virginia's American Revolution, and, with Thomas E. Woods, Jr., 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.
 
Published February 14, 2012 by St. Martin's Press. 431 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, History, Political & Social Sciences. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for James Madison and the Making of America

Kirkus Reviews

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The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution, 2007, etc.) draws on primary sources to portray Madison as an adept nation-builder who drafted the Bill of Rights and fought for a strong federal government and the free exercise of religion.

Jan 15 2012 | Read Full Review of James Madison and the Making ...

Kirkus Reviews

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Authoritative account of the public career of James Madison (1751-1836).

Jan 31 2012 | Read Full Review of James Madison and the Making ...

Publishers Weekly

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Gutzman's account of the man many consider to be the Father of the Constitution is a meticulously researched work, relying on primary sources—most notably Madison's own extensive writings, including his famous Federalist Papers.

Feb 27 2012 | Read Full Review of James Madison and the Making ...

The Wall Street Journal

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"Soft-spoken in life, Madison remained unassuming in death," says Mr. Gutzman, noting that Madison, unlike Jefferson, left no gravestone touting his achievements.

Mar 24 2012 | Read Full Review of James Madison and the Making ...

The Wall Street Journal

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"Soft-spoken in life, Madison remained unassuming in death," says Mr. Gutzman, noting that Madison, unlike Jefferson, left no gravestone touting his achievements.

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The Wall Street Journal

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"Soft-spoken in life, Madison remained unassuming in death," says Mr. Gutzman, noting that Madison, unlike Jefferson, left no gravestone touting his achievements.

Mar 24 2012 | Read Full Review of James Madison and the Making ...

Book Reporter

With JAMES MADISON AND THE MAKING OF AMERICA, Kevin Gutzman has raised a glorious standard to illustrate and illuminate the importance of Madison and why he may be unfairly overlooked and buried in the shadow of Jefferson.

Mar 02 2012 | Read Full Review of James Madison and the Making ...

Washington Independent Review of Books

Ask my high school students to identify James Madison and invariably they will say, “He’s the dude who wrote the Constitution, right?” Such is the sad state to which James Madison has fallen in the minds of most Americans.

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City Book Review

In fact, Madison came out on the losing end of many of the votes taken, and he saw no need for the Bill of Rights that his friend Thomas Jefferson and others insisted upon.

Apr 10 2012 | Read Full Review of James Madison and the Making ...

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