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The Federalist Papers

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  36,330 ratings  ·  902 reviews

Hailed by Thomas Jefferson as “the best commentary on the principles of government which was ever written", The Federalist Papers is a collection of eighty-five essays published by Founding Fathers Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay from 1787 to 1788, as a means to persuade the public to ratify the Constitution of the United States.

With nearly two-thi

Paperback, 688 pages
Published April 1st 2003 by Signet Classics (first published 1787)
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Eda Yes, and I find that I understand the Papers and, by extension, our Constitution much, much better.
Jackie Johnson While it is hardly the highest rated book on Goodreads (at the time of my writing this, it has 4.07 stars), I would hazard a guess that one of the rea…moreWhile it is hardly the highest rated book on Goodreads (at the time of my writing this, it has 4.07 stars), I would hazard a guess that one of the reasons that The Federalist Papers is rated so highly is that the people who read and review it are those who are predisposed to appreciate it. (less)

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Jun 10, 2007 rated it really liked it
Read the Federalist Papers. Then, just for kicks, switch on Hannity & Colmes, or Crossfire, or read USA Today... and then ask yourself, WHAT THE FUCKING CHRIST HAPPENED TO THIS COUNTRY? Then crawl into a corner and whimper for eight hours straight. (That's what I did.) ...more
Karen Chung
Feb 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing
With all the talk in political discourse these days about "what the US Founding Fathers intended", I felt it was time to go straight to the source. If you've ever had similar thoughts, this is the place to start. This work is long - around 22 hours of Librivox audio - and written in archaic, ornate English. But anyone reading it will be immediately impressed by its scholarship and depth. It also gives a clear picture of what said Founding Fathers were up against - unbridled, often unprincipled, ...more
Feb 27, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Praise God I'm an American. One should not be able to graduate public high schools without mastery of Basic Economics & The Federalist Papers. ...more
Roy Lotz
Jun 17, 2013 rated it liked it
Why has government been instituted at all? Because the passions of men will not conform to the dictates of reason and justice without restraint.

Like any educated American who hasn’t already read this book, this classic has long been on my reading list. Nevertheless, even amongst us haughty literati, I suspect that this book is a Mark Twain kind of classic—one that we wish to have read, but don’t look forward to actually reading. It certainly was that way for me. Philistine that I am, the ide
Aug 31, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Someone willing to give it the time it merits
First, I'm going to begin with a bitch.
The true authorship of these was only known several years after the fact. And took several decades after the authors had been determined to finalize exactly who wrote what.
Furthermore, virtually ever copy includes at least a copy of the Bill of Rights, Declaration o
Jan 27, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
First and foremost let me just say, God Bless These United States of America.

Significance of this book is beyond a 5. Enjoyability is below a 3. Hence I’ll meet in the middle and give it a 4.

If your going into reading this thinking it’s going to be awesome, you’re wrong. It’s a full time job and it’s extraordinarily difficult, however difficult it may be it is essential reading. These men were brilliant and I am incredibly thankful they existed at the Time they did to allow us the future we li
Manuel Antão
Sep 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2020
If you're into stuff like this, you can read the full review.

Great Tensegrity: "The Federalist Papers" by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, John Jay

Tocqueville cites “The Federalist Papers” extensively in “Democracy in America”. The rationality and foresight that exudes from the quotes is deeply refreshing. In my analysis of what Tocqueville says about the laws of the US, I can't see that Trump has been able to exploit any weakness. The federal constitution, with its amendments, seems to be doi
Jan 13, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Wow...This book has completely transformed my views and understanding of our government. The US constitution make so much more sense now that I have read its defense. It's also interesting to read some of the outlandish arguments that were propagated against this ingenious document. Not much has changed in American politics over the centuries. Our media, pundits, and politicians still banter in much the same way today as they did back in the 1780's.

I will admit that this book challenged me. The
4.0 stars. One of the most important works of American political science and philosophy, this collection of arguments detailing the benefits and advantages of the federal system as envisioned by the founding fathers is a must read to understand the beginnings of the republic.
Connie G
Aug 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: essays, history, politics, law
"The Federalist" is a collection of 85 essays published originally in New York state newspapers in 1787-1788 encouraging the ratification of the Constitution. The pseudonym Publius was used for the three intelligent authors--Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay. The authors were responding to criticisms against the Constitution by the anti-Federalists who also wrote newspaper articles. (Some of the concerns of the anti-Federalists were addressed in the Bill of Rights in 1791.)

"The Fed
Nov 27, 2008 marked it as to-read
Shelves: dicklits
I don't know who's a bigger jackass: me, for never having so much as peeped at these, or the grownps at all the various schools I've attended, for not even once suggesting I should.

Actually, that's a lie. I totally do know.
Hailey Hudson
Feb 07, 2017 rated it it was ok

[edit--I haven't actually read this book, I just felt like commenting that]
David Huff
Dec 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
We can all probably think of certain books we "should have read" during high school, or college, and somehow never did. For me, the collection of short essays that make up The Federalist Papers was one of those books. Since I love my country and am an ardent believer in her Constitution, my lengthy delay in reading TFP is both ironic and embarrassing. Now, however, my conscience is assuaged and I appreciate the Constitution, and the complicated path to its birth, all the more.

The Federalist Pape
Jun 05, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Well, folks, I finally did it. It took a combination of audio and print but I finally finished The Federalist Papers.
I went in expecting to love it. I loved Two Treatises of Government. And I loved An Inquiry into the Nature and Causes of the Wealth of Nations. (Though I haven't finished it yet.) And I loved The Spirit of the Laws. So, it isn't like dense political theory phases me. Particularly when it connects to American constitutional law--one of my favorite subjects. This was going t
Nov 20, 2007 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's hard to rate a book like this. On the one hand, it's one of the foundational writings of American history; on the other hand, it's boring. Much of it is, anyway. Reading it seemed like such a good idea when I first picked it up at Barnes & Noble two or three years ago. I still think it's a book every American should read. I'm just glad I'm finished.
I was encouraged by what emerged as the worldview of these authors, as in this excerpt from Federalist 37, written by James Madison, as he refle
Kelly Holmes
Jan 19, 2009 rated it it was amazing
How many Americans can say they've read the Constitution? My guess is probably not many. And those that have only did it for school and have since forgotten much of what they learned. Personally, I remember having to memorize the Bill of Rights for a class, but that's about it.

So I bought a copy of the Constitution for myself and began reading it. It's important now more than ever that we read and understand it.
Michael O'Brien
May 13, 2012 rated it it was amazing
The Federalist Papers was a tough slog to get through, but, like mining for diamonds, it was worth it. There are no published records of the internal deliberations of the Founding Fathers in their development of the U.S. Constitution ---- the Federalist Papers is really our only intense summary of their thinking in why they put its various measures in it. With some input from John Jay, the Papers are overwhelmingly the product of two great men who would later be political opponents -- James Madi ...more
Oct 17, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Don't let the 3 star rating mislead you. This is a brilliant summation of the Constitution by three of the smartest Founding Fathers: Alexander Hamilton (first Secretary of the Treasury), James Madison (Father of the Constitution and fourth President of the U.S.), and John Jay (first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court). It is such a shame that there are so few political geniuses in government today. The breadth of their knowledge, particularly Madison's, boggles the mind. Except for the fact tha ...more
Miss Clark
Oct 15, 2008 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Every American and anyone who wants to understand what it was envisioned to be when it began
Boring as all get out, practically put me to sleep and still I ended up liking this book. How could I not in some ways? It presents the arguments of three men, who if I certainly did not admire, can certainly respect their passionately held opinions and their hopes for what America could be. Also, it really helped me to better understand the Constitution and the Bill of Rights and the historical context that resulted in some of the seemingly odd or unnecessary clauses and stipulations.

And the sh
Cary Giese
May 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read some of these papers in college as directed by my Professor, but had never read them all. This book should be studied and used as a reference! You have likely heard legal scholars refer to quotes that happen to be apt in a certain circumstance! But the point of having this book is to be able to understand the minds of the founders on every issue of the draft Constitution. Amazingly, these founder advocacy efforts was their pro-Constitution’s social media campaign. They and the anti-federa ...more
Feb 16, 2021 marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
I have had this audio book on my shelves for years and thought I might not be able to get through it, but now realize that is no excuse. Politics these days have deteriorated to such an extent I cannot read or watch any 'news' for long, whether it be mainstream or alternative. As a nation we have killed millions of babies and call it health-care for women. We have leaders in high office who call themselves 'Catholic' who support this and many other things contrary to the teachings of our faith a ...more
Clif Hostetler
Nov 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
Shelves: history
The Federalist Papers are a series of 85 essays written in 1787 and 1788 to promote the ratification of the United States Constitution. I found it to be the equivalent of reading a 600 paged legal brief written by an 18th century lawyer. Actually, that's exactly what it is. I found these lectures helpful in describing the debates that took place at the time these papers were written. I was impressed at the extent and variety of the arguments of "The Federalist Papers" in defending the proposed C ...more
Mar 14, 2019 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The Federalist Papers is a collection of 85 short essays, written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison & John Jay, in order to convince the readers of New York newspapers to support the institution of a federal Constitution.

In order to understand the content of these essays, it is important to understand the times in which they were written. The former 13 American colonies had revolted against the British Empire and declared their indepdence in 1776. But this was only the beginning, because the
Jul 23, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A nation, without a national government, is in my view, an awful spectacle. The establishment of a Constitution, in time of profound peace, by the voluntary consent of the whole people, is a prodigy, to the completion of which I look forward with trembling anxiety. (Alexander Hamilton writing as “Publius” near the end of Federalist Paper No. 85)

The U.S. Constitution was ratified on March 4, 1789, and it has survived as the most well-devised government in the history of the world. Many smart poli
Sep 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I just finished this book after a long hiatus. It took me awhile to figure out a strategy for reading it, which for me turned out to be reading one chapter a day. Once I approached it that way, I found it to be fascinating, inspiring and eye-opening. Reading it now in the midst of so many debates about the proper role of each of the branches of government as they address domestic and international issues has been very interesting. The thoroughness of the analysis is very impressive. Madison, Jay ...more
Jun 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: politics
It's an understandable shame that more people don't want to read this. True, it's not all that entertaining. At times, it feels like reading the most boring parts of the Old Testament. It requires a lot from the reader. But it is such an important book to read in order to understand our government and why it was structured the way it was. And ultimately, it was structured the way it was in order to protect the people's liberties. Therefore, if we don't understand this, our liberties are at risk. ...more
Erik Graff
Apr 02, 2009 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: US citizens
Recommended to Erik by: Mr. Faulhaber
The Federalist Papers, this very edition, were required reading for the U.S. History and Government course mandated for all students during their junior year at Maine Twp. H.S. South in Park Ridge, Illinois, along with such documents as The Declaration of Independence, The Articles of Confederation, The Constitution of the United States of America, etc. The Constitution had, of course, also been required in junior high school along with that of the State of Illinois, but I much preferred the lev ...more
Fredrick Danysh
Jun 20, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: political, classics
Essays by the supporting passage of the bill of rights. Gives some surprises as to why these amendments to the Constitution and what their real purposes are. A must read for every American.
Jacob Aitken
Patrick Henry’s most famous line was “Give me Liberty or Give me Death!” Alexander Hamilton probably said “Give up your liberties, or we’re all going to die!” While there is much wisdom in Madison’s remarks, the same really can’t be said for Hamilton. And while many of their predictions proved quite wrong, and one can argue that the challenges of the anti-federalists were never really answered, it doesn’t seem we can go back to pre-1789 America. To suggest otherwise is LARPing.

Nos. 2-4; Concerni
Erin Matson
Jan 29, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Maddening, esoteric, repetitive, brilliant, The Federalist Papers put our era of political discourse to shame. The version I read concluded with the Declaration of Independence, the Articles of Confederation, and then the Constitution. I began to cry when I read the procedure for certifying electors, and by the time I reached the nineteenth amendment I was sobbing. I found myself reaching for the Equal Rights Amendment that is still not there. Our system has always been cruel to those who are no ...more
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Alexander Hamilton (January 11, 1755 or 1757 – July 12, 1804) was the first United States Secretary of the Treasury, a Founding Father, economist, and political philosopher. He led calls for the Philadelphia Convention, was one of America's first Constitutional lawyers, an

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