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James Madison: A Life Reconsidered | [Lynne Cheney]

James Madison: A Life Reconsidered

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.
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Publisher's Summary

A major new biography of the fourth president of the United States by New York Times best-selling 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.

©2014 Lynne Cheney (P)2014 Penguin Audio

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  •  
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 05-21-14
    Jean Santa Cruz, CA, United States 05-21-14 Member Since 2015

    I am an avid eclectic reader.

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    "Excellent"

    “James Madison: A Life Reconsidered” by Lynne Cheney surprised me with new facts and perspectives, I was previously unaware of. The biography traces the entire life, but it is at its most absorbing in the retelling of Madison’s epic efforts from 1785 through the ratification of the Bill of Rights in December 1791. Madison worked with Jefferson to write the Virginia Constitution, Madison was drafting the blue print that would later become the U.S. Constitution, including the important tenet for religious liberty. A diligent member of the Continental Congress, he along with Alexander Hamilton, proposed a state’s revenue to pay the new county’s debts and promoted Jefferson as a peace negotiator in Paris. Cheney portrays Madison as a brilliant, shrewd statesman who, more than anyone else was responsible for writing the Constitution and Bill of Rights. Cheney devotes substantial space to new information about Madison’s physical maladies, especially a syndrome involving attacks akin to those of epilepsy. Cheney makes clear that Madison was a practical politician. “He was capable not only of deeply creative thinking,” she writes, “but of turning his thoughts into reality.” Cheney primarily portrays Madison in a favorable light but did point out he was capable of changing his mind, for example, during the debates over the Constitution and designing the government, Madison disagreed with Hamilton about the need for a federal bank. Hamilton won the point and developed a federal bank which was dissolved later on. When Madison became President he fought to have the Bank reinstated as he said that the government could not function without a federal bank just as Hamilton had advocated. The author provides the reader with considerable amount of detail about Dolly Madison. She was not only a great hostess but was helpful to Madison in politics and later with managing his papers. I learned from a side note by Cheney that the Republican Party of Madison and Jefferson was actually known as the Democratic-Republican party and had nothing to do with the current day Republican GOP Party which was established just prior to the Civil War. The author goes into a significant amount of detail, such as, Madison’s boarding bill in Philadelphia, the purchasing of table setting from James Monroe, and to Dolley’s knee abscess this all contributes to the richness of the biography. I believe one must read more than one source about a person or topic to obtain a more complete picture of the person or situation. The books I have read about Monroe are an excellent example, because each has provided a different picture of Monroe and his life. I read “James Madison: the Founding Father by Robert Allen Rutland published in 1997 and James Madison: A Biography by Ralph Ketcham published in 1971. Compared to the above books Cheney provided far more insight into Monroe’s personal life and that of Dolley Madison. The biography is well written and Cheney clearly brings to life the character and personality of James and Dolley Madison. Lynne Cheney is the wife of Dick Cheney the former vice President of the United States. I must admit the reason I bought the book was just to see what she had to say and if she was able to write. I am glad I decided to give Cheney a chance as she has turned out to be a good historian. Eliza Foss did an excellent job narrating the book.

    7 of 7 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Anne D. Christensen Paradise Valley,, Az United States 07-16-14
    Anne D. Christensen Paradise Valley,, Az United States 07-16-14 Member Since 2001
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    "Madison's viewpoint of familiar history"
    Is there anything you would change about this book?

    I would change the reader who although easy to understand might better suited to read children's books.


    What was one of the most memorable moments of James Madison?

    I was most interested in his medical trials, especially what appears to be lifelong psychomotor seizures.


    How could the performance have been better?

    There is no sense of command to Eliza Foss's reading. Where moments are solemn it is best not to end a sentence with an upward inflection


    Do you think James Madison needs a follow-up book? Why or why not?

    No. Subject adequately covered


    3 of 3 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Teresa PALM SPRINGS, CA, United States 06-12-14
    Teresa PALM SPRINGS, CA, United States 06-12-14 Member Since 2011
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    "Nice history of the early national period"

    I was expecting something more like Ron Chernow's biographies of Washington and Hamilton. This book seems more like a history of the early national period. Madison was certainly a major part of that period but in this book he just seems like a character in the larger story rather than the center of attention. It's fine, but I wish I had picked one of the older Madison biographies on audible.

    4 of 5 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Frank 07-22-15
    Frank 07-22-15
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    "Great historical biography"

    This was a great depiction of the revolutionary leader. Cheney does a great job explaining Madison's life. I recommend this to anyone interested in American history or historical figures.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Julie Garcia 06-30-15 Member Since 2014

    Avid listener.

    HELPFUL VOTES
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    "Lynne Cheney Ain't No David McCullough"
    Would you try another book from Lynne Cheney and/or Eliza Foss?

    NO.


    What could Lynne Cheney have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

    Rely more on factual events and writings rather than speculating or "imagining" what it must have been like during the course of the events written about.


    Would you be willing to try another one of Eliza Foss’s performances?

    It would depend on the subject of the book.


    What reaction did this book spark in you? Anger, sadness, disappointment?

    Disappointment. A waste of my time. I expected a better narrative of one of the most influential and fascinating people in U.S. history.


    Any additional comments?

    While it usually doesn't matter to me whether a book is narrated by a man or woman as long as the performance is good, I must say that the choice of narrators here was not a good one. I have encountered many female narrators who have done an excellent job "voicing" the men in a book but that was not the case here. This book seemed to need a man's voice considering virtually all the individuals quoted or referred to are men, or at least a better female narrator. Foss sounded like a 2nd grade school teacher and an uninspired one at that. In addition to a poor choice in narrators, Cheney's book itself was not satisfying. I barely got 1/3 of the way through before I had to give it up and it was a struggle to stick with it that long. I cannot count how many times Cheney relies on speculation of facts or "imagining" what it must have been like to fill out her narrative. Isn't there plenty of factual evidence on which the narrative can rely without retreating to inferring, guessing or imagining? Cheney's attempts to be folksy or familiar with her subject also falls flat. I just do not find her to be a good writer. I do not recommend this book at all on any level.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    David Beeson Luton 06-22-15
    David Beeson Luton 06-22-15 Member Since 2012
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    "A good biography of a fine subject"

    Madison perhaps more than any other, worked to give the structure, in principle and law, of the world's first large-scale Republic. By doing so, the group of framers he led set the model for democracy. That the United States, with a substantial group of other countries, now lives under such a dispensation is a tribute to the power of what they, and he, achieved.

    Lynne Cheney gives an engaging and stimulation account of Madison's life, well and often movingly read by Eliza Foss. Well worth listening to if you are interested in the man and his epic times.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    NDFletch 06-13-15
    NDFletch 06-13-15

    ndfletcher

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    "Great man, great ideas, muddling book"

    I so wanted to like this book. I am a fan of the Ms Cheney's father, as he's one of the few contemporary GOP members that evokes any of Mr Madison's thought. Unfortunately, the book is bogged down with irrelevant minutia and trivialities, and spend far too little time with the formation of Mr Madison's brilliant philosophies.

    The narrator, Eliza Foss, has a wonderful voice - but not for a historical biography. Her rather sing-songy read compounds the lack of substance. At least this is true for the first half of the book, which is where I gave up.

    After reading Jefferson: The Art of Power, Washington: A Life, John Adam, and The Bully Pulpit: Roosevelt & Taft (all spectacular books) A Life Reconsidered was a major disappointment.

    My apologies the the author and narrator, as they obviously put much effort into this book. I just did not find compellingly constructed.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Nolkat 06-04-15
    Nolkat 06-04-15 Member Since 2015
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    "Ok."

    The book was sold but a little lighter than I would have liked. Compared to other presidential biographies, I feel like I know Madison less as a human being than I do his earlier and more famous predecessors.

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    The Texas Firefly Houston, Texas 02-11-15
    The Texas Firefly Houston, Texas 02-11-15
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    "Madison the Supporting Actor"
    Would you say that listening to this book was time well-spent? Why or why not?

    I enjoyed the book but felt like the vast majority of it was an overview of early American history rather than a biography of Madison. Madison is really relegated to a supporting character as the book focuses on the birth and early days of the nation. The book lacked the focus that other historical biographers typically have. I almost felt like Madison was just the hook to retell some of Cheney's favorite stories from early American history.


    Did Eliza Foss do a good job differentiating all the characters? How?

    Goo reading, clear and easy to understand.


    0 of 0 people found this review helpful
  •  
    Kenneth Larsen 01-27-15 Member Since 2014
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    "Required reading!"

    The reader (listener) quickly recognizes the extraordinary amount of research that must have gone into writing this book.

    One comes away with an insight, not only into James Madison as a man and his profound impact on our fledgling country, but into those who influenced him (for better and worse).

    For those of us who love American history, this is required reading!

    0 of 0 people found this review helpful

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