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James Madison: A Life Reconsidered

3.98  ·  Rating details ·  2,358 ratings  ·  287 reviews
A major new biography of the fourth president of the United States by New York Times bestselling author Lynne Cheney
This majestic new biography of James Madison explores the astonishing story of a man of vaunted modesty who audaciously changed the world. Among the Founding Fathers, Madison was a true genius of the early republic.
Outwardly reserved, Madison was the intell
Audio CD, 19 pages
Published May 6th 2014 by Penguin Audio
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Average rating 3.98  · 
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May 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
James Madison, A Life Reconsidered

Is a biography of our fourth president written by Lynn Cheney.

I continue my quest to read at least one biography or memoir about each of our presidents.

About Madison I have learned (or was reminded) that he
• Suffered from a form of epilepsy
• Contributed to the Federalist Papers
• Wrote the Constitution
• Fell in love with Kitty Floyd, who eventually broke the engagement
• Met and married widow Dolley Payne Todd, who had one son
• Served as Secretary of State under
Dec 14, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: students of American history, biography-philes
Shelves: history, biography
Why write another biography of a historic figure, who every school child knows all about? Because modern scholarship allows the diligent researcher to retrace exchanges by letters, some in cipher, with official records and contemporary media accounts to give a fuller picture of who said and did what to and with whom. This approach is especially fruitful with eighteenth century figures whose correspondence was saved. Through these we learn that the office of Vice President was an accident, the Br ...more
Well researched but it felt (actually sounded as I listened to this as an audiobook) more like a newspaper story. Lots of reporting of the facts but it failed to weave a story that brings the reader in along the lines of a good Ron Chernow or David McCullough biography. ...more
Jul 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition

Lynne Cheney’s “James Madison: A Life Reconsidered” was published in 2014, about a year after I read four biographies of the fourth president in my quest to uncover the best biography of Madison. Cheney is the author of more than a dozen books, including several written for children such as “We the People: The Story of our Constitution” and “America: A Patriotic Primer.” Lynne Cheney is the wife of the 46th vice president of the United States.

This 458-page
Tex Reader
3.5 of 5 stars – An Interesting Bio of a Fascinating Man in American History
(I'm excited to have won this as a Goodreads First Read – so thanks!)

I love history and bios, particularly those of the revolutionary era, but I hadn’t yet read one devoted to this intriguing founding father. Cheney does a good job of capturing Madison and enlightening us on the details of his life, accomplishments and times.

I’ve read a number of bios of American revolutionary figures (Washington, J.Adams (my personal fa
John Daly
May 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Book 19 of 40 for 2016

It's hard to believe that I've never read a stand alone biography of James Madison. Earlier this year I read "The First Congress" which gave a great amount of insight into James Madison's work in making the First Congress work. I picked up Lynne Cheney's James Madison when it came out two years ago.

Cheney does a great job of keeping the book moving and not getting bogged down but giving a lot of great information.

It was interesting to learn that one of the reasons that Madi
Larry Bassett
First let me comment on the title of this book: A Life Reconsidered. The author notes that she feels that James Madison has often been slighted in his role as president. She wished to revisit that historic view. I also want to note for what it's worth that the author is the wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney. My own recollections of reading about James Madison in other presidential literature is that James Monroe who was Madisons Secretary of State is sometimes given significant credit fo ...more
This is one of the best books I have ever read. Undoubtedly, it is the best non-fiction book I can remember reading in the last 20 years. If all history books were written like this, history would be much more widely known and understood. This reads like a historical fiction novel, but it is the real history of James Madison. The prose and writing have you turning each page as if it was a cliffhanger. I have a fairly good knowledge of American history, particularly the Continental War for Indepe ...more
India M. Clamp
May 29, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exceptionally researched and well written.
Sep 25, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a serviceable biography of James Madison for those who want something a little more in-depth than a typical selection from one of those mass-market presidential biography series, but not as in-depth as Noah Feldman's far-superior Madison biography that came out a few years later. It's good but not great; well-written but not enthralling; studious but not penetrating.

Unlike other Presidents who distinguished themselves in battle, or in diplomacy, or who followed other pursuits altogether
Jun 21, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Another truly remarkable man in the line-up of America's Founding Fathers ! I came away from this biography with a great respect for James Madison and his contributions to the beginnings of our great country. Our country owes a great deal to the brilliant mind of this man who was, in his twenties, a member of the Virginia legislator, and who saw, early on, the weaknesses of the Articles of Confederation and became committed to a stronger form of government for the new nation. In his early 30's ...more
Apr 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
James Madison has always been one of my favorite presidents. He was humble, calm and an incredible writer. I was always curious about his portrayal as shy and weak. This book really helped me better understand his life and personality. He was an incredible man and this book was well written and engaging.
Lynne Cheney's book on James Madison is very well researched and very readable. Some of the information was a repeat for me, since I had read biographies of Washington, Adams and Jefferson prior to this, but I have to admit that I really didn't know much about the War of 1812. ...more
Rachel Jorgensen
Apr 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I’m enjoying reading (or more accurately listening to on audible) about the presidents but it’s beginning to get depressing to see how much fighting and party tactics have been happening since the very first presidents. I guess some things never change.
Feb 03, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
TL;DR: Though I was nervous about potential political undertones to the work, I was pleasantly surprised by a balanced, well-told account of Madison's life.

I want to immediately say that I approached this book with some trepidation. Lynne Cheney is the wife of Dick Cheney, a man with whom, to put it mildly, I have some political disagreements. I decided to give it a shot because I have been reading through the Founders’ lives lately, and I thought that a more recent biography might be a better
Katherine Wacker
Lynne Cheney’s James Madison: A Life Reconsidered, a biography of the 4th President of the United States, is a comprehensive look at one of the most important yet unknown of America’s founders. The book begins with highlights from Madison’s childhood, his college days, and his battle with epilepsy. It continues with his views on the War for Independence, the writing of the Constitution, the Presidency, and the War of 1812. This is perhaps the most important recent work done on the man who had th ...more
May 26, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I didn't finish, got halfway, and its due back at Library and cannot renew because there is waitlist.

I really only picked this up to make an evaluation of Lynne Cheney (yes, that Cheney). I've concluded she's a good historian, and a fair writer. This did not grab me in the same way many other historical books have (think McCullogh or KearnsGoodwin). Do not know if that is me, Lynne or the material. Madison, while very active in the forming of our government, didn't really "do" anything. He didn'
Jan 28, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I had a difficult time reading this book. Lynne Cheney‘s research is impeccable, but writing is not her strong suit. Readers have become a bit spoiled by the quality of writing that is prevalent in most non-fiction today. It was a challenge to stay focused on a book that to me read more like an encyclopedia than a captivating biography. Nonetheless, Ms Cheney deserves high marks for the integrity and completeness of her work.
Nov 24, 2014 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: audiobooks
If you're a fan of past participle, passive voice, and blanks in history filled with, "One imagines...", then this book is for you.

I didn't listen to the last 3 hours of the audiobook because, quite frankly, I didn't care anymore.
Lynn Diane
Dec 26, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-2016
Equal parts of fascination and boredom.
Jul 18, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am enjoying my personal challenge of reading a biography of each president in chronological order. I did enjoy reading of the incalculable impact that Madison had on our country, though I was disappointed that the book didn't give me any insight into Madison himself.

What I did gather in this book, was that Madison was a strong-willed and persistent man who overcame his health obstacles through sheer drive. At a time when epilepsy was a mystery with dark connotations and many medicinal remedies
Mike Kanner
Jul 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Since I often cite Madison in my American politics courses, I was excited to see this at a discount for my Kindle.

While nominally a biography of Madison, the real benefit of the way in which Cheney discusses the politics and individuals of the period. She shows that the Founders were NOT the secular saints they are often portrayed as. Nor did they act out of a selfless pursuit of liberty and freedom. They were flawed individuals that acted out of their self-interest and worldviews.

Shedding a l
Aug 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good biography of the main intellectual autor of the democratic system as we know it today. Madison was perhaps the least spectacular of the founding fathers, but he was also the most responsible for the intellectual political achievements of the American revolution. His contributions are well documented in a sober manner by this biography without incurring in the excessive partisanship that is usual in this kind of book. This may be due perhaps to the more conflict adverse nature of Madison h ...more
Oct 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

This was a compelling read that did an excellent job of humanizing Madison while also giving a well rounded picture of his trials and tribulations. Don't let Lynne's last name fool you into thinking this will be a partisan book. She brilliantly and fairly critiques Madison. If you are looking for an interesting and invigorating biography on James Madison, I can not recommend this enough.
Mar 05, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Never thought an author could make the War of 1812 come alive but Lynn Cheney succeeds in this compelling, well-written biography of James Madison. Helped me understand how much opposition there was to the constitution initially, why we fought the War of 1812, how many groups seriously considered seceding - both northerners and southerners - early on, and the key role of Madison's vision in setting up our form of government. Recommend for anyone interested in American history and the founding of ...more
Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was originally hesitant to start reading this book, because I thought it'd be arduous to read and boring. But the writing was rather easy to read and I learned a lot. ...more
Ellen Spes
Aug 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
History is a good teacher.
Matt McAlear
Mar 24, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: biographies
Long book but worth the read. Very interesting to know Madison's trials and how he overcame them. ...more
Martin Lowery
Mar 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Lynne Cheney, wife of evil Hollywood character Dick, writes her own biography on the father of the American constitution. The book was well worth the read, focusing mostly on Madison's early life and his philosophy underpinning his constitutional predilections. ...more
Dec 08, 2019 added it
Shelves: biography
The audio book is fails to engage the listener on what should otherwise be a most interesting biography. The author tells the reader how to imagine scenes versus being descriptive and letting the reader visualize for themselves. My rating for this book is clear.
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Lynne Ann Vincent Cheney, is a novelist, conservative scholar, and former talk-show host who is the wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney.

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“Madison was also developing another idea: that the absence of clashing ideas and competing interests leads to overreaching and corruption.” 1 likes
“Gallatin had warned Jefferson that " government prohibitions do always more mischief than had been calculated; and it is not without much hesitation that a statesman should hazard to regulate the concerns of individuals as if he could do it better than themselves.” 0 likes
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