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What Kind of Nation
 
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James F. Simon
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What Kind of Nation

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3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  182 ratings  ·  17 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 by Blackstone Audiobooks (first published February 26th 2002)
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Jeremy Perron
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
Aaron
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
Don
Too dang dry for me.
Bill Sleeman

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

...more
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
Erik
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
...more
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.
Chris
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
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.
Derk
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.
Andrew
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
Mike
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
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.
Jason Evans
Nov 12, 2007 Jason Evans rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  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.
Jim Dilmore
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.
Lizzie
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.
Denise Corbitt


It's a wonder this nation ever came to be.
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  • John Marshall: Definer of a Nation
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  • The Second Civil War: How Extreme Partisanship Has Paralyzed Washington and Polarized America
  • The French and Indian War: Deciding the Fate of North America
  • Samuel Adams: Father of the American Revolution
  • Tension City: Inside the Presidential Debates, from Kennedy-Nixon to Obama-McCain
  • Comeback America: Turning the Country Around and Restoring Fiscal Responsibility
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.
More about James F. Simon...
Lincoln and Chief Justice Taney: Slavery, Secession, and the President's War Powers FDR and Chief Justice Hughes: The President, the Supreme Court, and the Epic Battle Over the New Deal The Antagonists: Hugo Black, Felix Frankfurter and Civil Liberties in Modern America Independent Journey: The Life of William O. Douglas The Center Holds: The Power Struggle Inside the Rehnquist Court

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