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What Kind of Nation: T...
James F. Simon
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What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States

3.8  ·  Rating Details ·  253 Ratings  ·  19 Reviews
"What Kind of Nation" is a riveting account of the bitter and protracted struggle between two titans of the early republic over the power of the presidency and the independence of the judiciary. The clash between fellow Virginians (and second cousins) Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall remains the most decisive confrontation between a president and a chief justice in Ameri ...more
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Published April 1st 2003 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published February 26th 2002)
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Jeremy Perron
Aug 27, 2011 Jeremy Perron rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall were two of the most important men in our nation's history. They both served in the American Revolution, Jefferson more famously as the author of the Declaration of Independence and as diplomat, and Marshall as a junior officer in George Washington's army. Their careers, however, would intersect when they both reached their pinnacle. Thomas Jefferson as President of the United States and John Marshall as the Chief Justice of the United States Supreme Court. The ...more
Mar 13, 2015 Bob rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Summary: Simon's book summarizes the struggle between John Marshall and Thomas Jefferson to define the character of American Federal government, focusing particularly on Marshall's role in creating a strong judicial branch. A good book for anyone interested in post-Revolutionary War American history or in early constitutional law.

About the only thing John Marshall and Thomas Jefferson had in common was that both were Virginians. Jefferson was enamored of all things French while Marshall broke of
Mike Hankins
The history of the United States has been marked by continual debate about the nature of the country itself. Present day debates about the size and role of the federal government are in many ways analogous to the debates between Republicans and Federalists in the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. In What Kind of Nation? James F. Simon explores those debates as they are manifested through the legal decisions of John Marshall's Supreme Court. Although Simon's writing is excellent, he ...more
Bill Sleeman
Aug 01, 2013 Bill Sleeman rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: american-history

What Kind of Nation : Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States by James Simon offers a fresh and informed consideration of these two giants of the founding era and how they struggled with each other directly and through a host of partisan supporters to shape both the Judiciary and the Constitution. In fact, many of the characters we see in Simon’s work are familiar figures but their outright animosity towards one another may not be as familiar. I found part

May 23, 2014 Aaron rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book hit my history-book sweet spot. I am inclined to like most history books with lengthy, but well-told, discussions of legal cases. This book is essentially just that: a sophisticated, yet easy to read, narrative about the cases at the Supreme Court that shaped Constitutional Law regarding the powers of the federal government, the separation of powers among the three branches of government, and the limits of what the states can do viz a viz the federal government, nearly every one of whi ...more
Paul Gibson
Apr 02, 2016 Paul Gibson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Today many people tend to imagine America's forefathers as a monolithic, Republican group who agreed upon the clear meanings of the Constitution. This book looks at two main views of what the Constitution might mean and intend. It reveals the reasonable (and unreasonable) disagreement between members of Jefferson's Democratic Republicans. Although Jefferson (author of the Declaration of Independence) and Madison (the father of our Constitution) often served closely together, they tended to stres ...more
Jan 10, 2011 Erik marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
Simon's new book is a study of the rivalry between Thomas Jefferson and John Marshall. Joseph Ellis, the author of "Founding Brothers," writes, "No one to the best of my knowledge has chosen to pair Jefferson and Marshall and make the argument between them the focus of book-length treatment. It is the kind of obvious idea that once you see it carried out so capably by Simon, you wonder why no one thought of it before."

Ellis contrasts Jefferson's "core conviction," "that what might be called 'th
Judicial review of congressional law is presently taken for granted but this hasn't always been so. Before Marbury v. Madison, the judicial was seen as the ugly stepchild whom nobody paid attention to while the other two branches of government fought for supremacy. John Marshall, arguably the greatest jurist in the history of America, managed to outmaneuver that great populist, Thomas Jefferson and thus ensured that the Supreme Court was destined to play a HUGE part in shaping American history. ...more
Colleen Browne
Mar 21, 2012 Colleen Browne rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Although there isn't a lot of new information here, it is a good read. The author's affinity for John Marshall is however very clear. A bit of hero worship going on here I am afraid. Never questioning any decision Marshall made, Simon does a disservice to the reader, in my opinion. For example, in his discussion of Marbury v Madison, the author explains the meaning of the decision but never delves into Marshall's justification for it in terms of the constitution.
Jul 06, 2011 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was off the list of recommended summer reading from ND Law school - I'm probably the only nerd to actually look at the list, let alone read from it. A very compelling read, detailing the intellectual battle between Jefferson and Marshall. Interested to jump more into the implications in the fall
Sep 13, 2012 Derk rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A well written history of the Jefferson-Marshall views concerning how the Federal Government should function. Just enough history was provided to set the context. I learned a lot about Marshall that I never knew before, even though I was familiar with many of his court decisions and views. It was also noteworthy that it was all done in some 300 pages.
David Eppenstein
I had forgotten that I read this book until Amazon reminded me. A very interesting history of two men with opposing views of the direction this country should go in. Their disagreement was deeply felt and the manner of their dispute is something present-day politicians should study and learn from.
Apr 24, 2010 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Pretty good book about some of the most basic fights among the two most influential founding fathers, Jefferson and Marshall. I recommend to anyone who wants to see how the courts gained the ability to decide on constitutional issues and why the federal government can override the states.
Blake Maddux
Jul 30, 2010 Blake Maddux rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Chapter 10 significantly slows the momentum of the book. Read the first few and last few pages of it and move on. If this whole chapter is so important to the story that Simon is telling, then he should have put Aaron Burr's name in the title.
Jim Dilmore
Aug 25, 2013 Jim Dilmore rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you think our current political climate is toxic, read this. It shows Marshall at his best and Jefferson at his most petulant. It also shows Jefferson at his most subtle and insightful political best.
Jason Evans
Nov 12, 2007 Jason Evans rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: history fans
Shelves: history
Great details about epic battles between Federalists (John Marshall) and those in favor of States' rights (Jefferson). Marbury v. Madison and what it means to this nation, and how it still is applicable today. Amazing book about amazing thinkers.
Jun 01, 2009 Lizzie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was given to me the summer before I started law school and I was promised that it was all I needed to know about the law. Um, not so much, but it did pretty much get me through Con Law.
Jason Page
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Paul Pettie
Paul Pettie rated it it was amazing
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Robert Baker
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Daniel E Nelson
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James F. Simon is the Martin Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus at New York Law School. He is the author of seven previous books on American history, law, and politics. His books have won the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award and twice been named New York Times Notable Books. He lives with his wife in West Nyack, New York.
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“The future chief justice of the United States told the delegates that an independent federal judiciary was a necessary bulwark against an overreaching Congress. If Congress were to exceed its powers, said Marshall, it would be the duty of the judiciary to declare the action void. Marshall” 0 likes
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