James Madison and the Making of America
Kevin R. C. Gutzman
St. Martin’s Griffin, Feb 5 2013, $16.99
This is an intriguing but difficult read as Kevin R. C. Gutzman provides a deep look into the life especially as a leader of the paradoxical “Father of the Constitution”, but at times like our visit to the Philadelphia Convention feels overwhelming with its neutrino level detail. Founding Father biographical fans will appreciate the insightful full picture of the fourth president who thought the document he helped write would not survive very long and that the Bill of Rights he and others authored was unnecessary; though ironically Madison developed and oversaw implementation of the separation of state and church in the Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom. With a contemporary premise, Madison thought political parties were bad for the country as their power-seeking self-interest would supersede the nation’s need. Dr. Gutzman makes a strong argument that perhaps the most long term influential of the Founding Fathers in the “Making of America” is James Madison; as even his wife Dolly was the prototype of the First Lady. This is a winning biography; just set aside plenty of time as this is not a quick read.