Prolific writer Richard Brookhiser tackles President James Madison in this short biography. Though the writing skills I have come to respect in Brookhiser are present, this volume is not quite as good as the others of his that I have read. As a biography, I did not think it was as good as David Stewart’s “Madison’s Gift” either.
The book begins with a riveting retelling of the British marching on Washington during his time as President. Then, it backed up and took the story chronologically. When you finally got back to that point of his life’s story, you could never figure out what device the author had in mind by opening the book with it. I thought of it as a missed opportunity.
Still, the prose is agreeable and the reading easy in this volume. While the biography is not standout, his premise that Madison brought us the partisan politics that since has defined us was much more successful. Some think he overstated his case, and surely Jefferson had a role, but he was an essential element as Brookhiser proves.
This is not my first choice for Madison, but still a fine read.
Find all others in this presidential series here.
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