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James Madison: The Founding Father

3.19  ·  Rating Details  ·  73 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
Available for the first time in paperback, James Madison: The Founding Father is a lively portrait of the man who essentially fathered our constitutional guarantees of civil and religious liberty. Focusing on the role Madison played at the Continental Congress and in each stage of the formation of the American Republic, Robert Allen Rutland also covers Madison's relationsh ...more
Paperback, 312 pages
Published September 22nd 1997 by University of Missouri (first published December 28th 1990)
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Jeremy Perron
Feb 10, 2012 Jeremy Perron rated it really liked it
Although my personnel favorite Founding Father is Alexander Hamilton, I find it very hard not to like James Madison. The title of this book declares Madison to be the Founding Father, now I do not think that is fair to the others but he is arguably one of the most important. Although not very relevant during the battles for independence itself, Madison was involved in the nation's affairs since the beginning. He was active from his election to state legislature in 1776 to his battles, as a forme ...more
Nick Dupree
Jun 08, 2013 Nick Dupree rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This 1987 book is an excellent primer on Madison, focusing on his role as founding father and principle author and advocate of the Constitution and Bill of Rights. It's long enough to give us thorough coverage of Madison's life, but brief enough for general audiences seeking a quick overview. Madison's achievements were awesome, especially when you realize that he was the class nerd of the founding generation, not the star quarterback (Washington) or stand-out writer/debate team leader (Jefferso ...more
David Miller
Jul 08, 2013 David Miller rated it it was ok
I normally try to read about a hundred pages of a book in a day. With this book, I struggled to get through the first fifty. I wondered at first if my powers of concentration were abandoning me. When my concentration toward other books proved unaffected, I had to face the fact that this book is pretty damn boring.

It's not terrible. It's just inconsequential and undistinguished. A case in point is how little effort the author makes in supporting the book's subtitle, THE FOUNDING FATHER. Madison w
Mar 29, 2010 Mark rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yes, I'm a history junkie (my kids call me a history nerd). I'm on a quest to read a biography on each president, in order. I doubt I'll make it, but we'll see. For some reason people don't view Madison on the same level as Washington, Jefferson, Lincoln, etc. He should be, since he's largely responsible for the Constitution and Bill of Rights, was champion for religious freedom, and basically created the Republican Party with Jefferson, which ultimately morphed into the Democratic Party as we k ...more
Apr 02, 2012 Nathan rated it did not like it
A blandly utilitarian account of Madison's political career, premised on the broadest and most unengaging interpretation of his character. Madison here is cast as a Jeffersonian individualist, but only in the roughest brushtrokes: his concerns for democracy, for liberty and the freedom of individual conscience are conveyed through dense and mazy treatments of arcane legislature, his humanity sketchily referenced in patchy anecdotes of his personal life. The whole book feels scanty: there is not ...more
Kohl Gill
Jan 15, 2009 Kohl Gill rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: dabblers in history
Recommended to Kohl by: Mark Talisman
I really enjoyed listening to this book. I had to rewind at some parts, during discussions of deciding moments of the constitutional debate, various early-nation crises, and the War of 1812. The book achieved its goal: I appreciate Madison's role in defining our country much more now. I also now have a grudge against Hamilton and his band of Federalists. The echoes of then-Treasury Secretary Hamilton's exploits, benefiting his friends who speculated on the national currency, reverberate to this ...more
Michael Taylor
Aug 06, 2011 Michael Taylor rated it really liked it
Shelves: james-madison
An extremely readable and interesting account of James Madison as Founding Father. This book is not a comprehensive biography, rather a look at Madison as constitution maker and politician.

If you are interested in this portion of Madison's life or would like an introduction to James Madison, the politician, then this book would be a superb choice!
Sep 15, 2009 Ross rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is biography and history written for the lay reader, but it is quite scholarly in tone and content. I have read a great deal about the founding fathers, but still found new and interesting material in this work. He makes a good case that Madison was "the" founding father, and almost succeeds.
Dec 28, 2010 Tony rated it liked it
Not a bad biography. Rutland focuses on Madison's well-documented public work and less on his personality. He has a firm grasp of Madison's papers.

But if you're looking for juicy details, you'll need to find another book.
May 25, 2012 Sean rated it liked it
Madison never seems to get any love, taking a back seat to superstars like Washington, Jefferson and Adams. But nice to remember how instrumental he was in shaping our country.
Jan 14, 2012 Tevvy rated it liked it
Probably my last favorite of the president biographies I've read so far, but hey I'm only on the 4th one! And it was pretty interesting still.
Sario Lawrence
Apr 06, 2012 Sario Lawrence rated it did not like it
This book killed me. Torture to read and I retained nothing. Anyone have a better recommendation for a book about Madison?
Apr 13, 2012 Richard rated it really liked it
A good relatively short biography of a patriot and diplomat who was perhaps over his head as president.
Ian Kemp
Feb 27, 2013 Ian Kemp rated it really liked it
Doesn't really mention how short he was...
Jim Johnson
Insightful but a little dry.
Aug 08, 2007 K.C. rated it liked it
Recommends it for: History Buffs
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Rutland was born in Okmulgee, Oklahoma, on 1 October 1922. After serving in the Pacific Theater with the U.S. Army during World War II, he received a bachelor's degree in journalism from the University of Oklahoma in 1947. He earned a master's degree in history from Cornell University in 1950 and a Ph.D. in history from Vanderbilt University in 1953.

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