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Publisher's Summary

Short, plain, balding, neither soldier nor orator, low on charisma and high on intelligence, Madison cared more about achieving results than taking the credit. To reach his lifelong goal of a self-governing constitutional republic, he blended his talents with those of key partners. It was Madison who led the drive for the Constitutional Convention and pressed for an effective new government as his patron, George Washington, lent the effort legitimacy; Madison who wrote the Federalist Papers with Alexander Hamilton to secure the Constitution's ratification; Madison who corrected the greatest blunder of the Constitution by drafting and securing passage of the Bill of Rights with Washington's support; Madison who joined Thomas Jefferson to found the nation's first political party and move the nation toward broad democratic principles; Madison, with James Monroe, who guided the new nation through its first war in 1812, really its Second War of Independence; and it was Madison who handed the reins of government to the last of the Founders, his old friend and sometime rival Monroe.

These were the main characters in his life. But it was his final partnership that allowed Madison to escape his natural shyness and reach the greatest heights. Dolley was the woman he married in middle age and who presided over both him and an enlivened White House. This partnership was a love story, a unique one that sustained Madison through his political rise, his presidency, and a fruitful retirement.

©2015 Originial Material. Recorded by arrangement with David O. Stewart c/o Lippincott Massie McQuilkin (P)2015 HighBridge, a division of Recorded Books

Critic Reviews

"Grover Gardner's animated narration makes the material come alive in ways the printed word can't.... The book is a fascinating examination of the making of the modern United States, and Gardner does the work justice." ( AudioFile)

What members say

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Excellent history of our nation's founding

More than a biography of a single man, this is a wonderful story of the whole team who created the governmental structure we know today. A story of struggle, conflict, and camaraderie.

10 of 13 people found this review helpful

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Reading Several Histories of the Nation's Founding

and bios of the founding fathers, and this one is among the best. A fine book on Madison's life and political career which is both enlightening and entertaining.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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  • grimm79
  • Orange County, CA United States
  • 09-20-17

Fantastic

The narration was second to none. The prose, though not the easiest to follow and remember for my chronologically oriented brain, as the book is divided into segments based on Madison's relationships rather than on sequence if events, was very engrossing. Helping the enjoyment was dry humor peppered throughout the book. I found myself laughing aloud, followed by self conscious scanning of my environment to see if anyone thought I were crazy. Something that helped me remember the plot if his life was the periodical repetition of an event, sometimes through the lens of a different relationship
Very enjoyable.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Unique Biography

David O. Stewart's design was wonderfully conceived and brilliantly executed. The partnership prose about Hamilton, Washington, Jefferson, Monroe and his beloved Dolly lends itself to better understand the man, his times and his challenges. That context and his aims are important to clarifying the why, but also the why not.

More importantly, Madison's complexity, his focus and his patience despite even the most bitter setbacks, all lend the reader an in depth and fair glimpse of this founding father.

I especially liked to read of his struggle with slavery from personal, sectional and Constitutional perspectives. James was unsuccessful in removing that evil and presciently foresaw secession, a Southern Confederacy and war.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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meh

The author is trying to do something interesting here, but is not entirely successful. Perhaps if I had not just finished other excellent biographies of Hamilton, Adams, Madison, and Washington in recent weeks, I would have found it more interesting. But, to me, the book lacked a strong narrative flow. To support the stories of the partnerships, backtracking and repeating events occurs, from slightly different points of view, but not quite different enough.

His last "partnership" is poorly supported, as Dolley does not appear central to the story he tells in part five. This was a disappointment.

I did appreciate finding out further information about James Monroe. I had little interest in reading a biography about him specifically, as he has never seemed particularly interesting. this piqued my interest somewhat.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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Great read about a great man in great times

What did you love best about Madison's Gift?

In intricate explanation of how a small, weak, unhealthy man rose to the monumental occasion of building the most import innovation in statecraft, creating America.

What was one of the most memorable moments of Madison's Gift?

Longest and best part of the book was the life of Madison. The small frail ever ready bunny who lived a long productive life

Which character – as performed by Grover Gardner – was your favorite?

George Washington - the reluctant hero of whole affair.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

1. The building of Washington DC from a muddy swamp and then rebuilding it after the British set it alight. 2. Second would be the plight of the prominent slave holders. They couldn't live with or without slavery. It was fundamental to their lively hood, they debated it's solutions, but they knew it would some day rip apart the nation.

Any additional comments?

The book is long and slow. Madison and his peers undertook the project of a lifetime. It is a serious work that invites more reading and study.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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A fantastic book; good insights

Looking at history through the eye of the father of the Constitution is an extraordinary journey for the reader. The book does a fantastic
Job of providing the reader with a “just the facts” approach. Author does a good job laying out the conflicts effecting the young nation. The structure: Madison’s relationship with other founders and of course his wife.

My recommendation here is for the readers to grasp the times. We often romanticize our founders, the reality is that these great men were extremely smart, passionate and human with sometimes brutal disagreements. The miracle that these men could be put together to create our system is a miracle.

I would be remiss on not mentioning that the book does cover slavery and Madison’s tortured response to the issue. I recognize this is a passionate area, but one must look again at early 18th century world and America where slavery at that time was the norm and its repeal was only gaining steel in the last 50 years prior. Fascinating was some of his ideas (mostly bad - certainly from 21st century eyes) on how to eliminate. From sending slaves back to Africa
to using monies from Western lands sales to purchase freedom for slaves certainly fancies the imagination of what could have been and at the same time recognize the entirely difficult political situation which which would ultimately end in civil war disaster. What is clear is the situation tortured Madison as this genius could
not find a politically feasible answer.

In short a great book from cover to cover!

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The Founding Father's Gift: Our Country!!!

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

IF you are really interested in history and that of the Founding Fathers of our Country then you should really enjoy this book.

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Decent but lacking more information

A creative plan, reviewing the life of Madison through his work with 5 people. However, the 16 years that he was Secretary of State and President were not informative enough in my opinion. Virtually no information was provided on the last 2 years of his Presidency. The history provided was at a 'basic level". If you knowledgable about history the book won't provide much in terms of new information. Great narrator.

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-1star for treatment of slavery

You say he did not have the resources to free his slaves... well no kidding. The unspoken truth is that he could not and maintain his position in society and emancipate his slaves. Plantation life was predicated on the use of slave labor. Nor is it possible to use arguments that the slaves lot may get worse post emancipation. Nor should we say that we are judging him by today's standards, as the story points out that he was pressed to emancipate in his will. What a terrible flaw in his character, and gap in the biography to leave this unexplained. How is a person to deal with this? Is there no more information on what the issues are? Better to avoid this topic and point to a some other work to help deal with these problems more completely. Perhaps I am being too harsh as We have not figured out how to deal with these issues...

0 of 1 people found this review helpful