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The third and fourth presidents have long been considered proper gentlemen, with Thomas Jefferson’s genius overshadowing James Madison’s judgment and common sense. But in this revelatory book about their crucial partnership, both are seen as men of their times, hardboiled operatives in a gritty world of primal politics where they struggled for supremacy for more than fifty years. With a thrilling and unprecedented account of early America as its backdrop, Madison and Jefferson reveals these founding fathers as privileged young men in a land marked by tribal identities rather than a united national personality. Esteemed historians Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg capture Madison’s hidden role—he acted in effect as a campaign manager—in Jefferson’s career. In riveting detail, the authors chart the courses of two very different presidencies: Jefferson’s driven by force of personality, Madison’s sustained by a militancy that history has been reluctant to ascribe to him.
Supported by a wealth of original sources—newspapers, letters, diaries, pamphlets—Madison and Jefferson is a watershed account of the most important political friendship in American history.
Praise for Madison and Jefferson:
“Monumental and masterful, Madison and Jefferson is a brilliant exploration of two critical founders and their long, complicated, and immensely significant friendship. Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg–both fine writers and insightful historians–reveal Madison and Jefferson to be emotional, ambitious, even contradictory men, operating in a political world remarkable for its ferocity. Yet the authors are far from dismissive. They clearly show how much these individuals mattered, even as they portray them as recognizably human and endlessly fascinating.”
–T.J. Stiles, author of The First Tycoon: The Epic Life of Cornelius Vanderbilt, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award
“It is hard to imagine that more could be learned about one of the most famous collaborations in American history. But with great passion, intelligence, and insight Burstein and Isenberg teach us much about the partnership that was Madison and Jefferson. This book is sure to become an indispensable resource for all who are interested in this extraordinary pair and the times in which they lived.”
–Annette Gordon-Reed, author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family, winner of the Pulitzer Prize and National Book Award
“In this monumental dual portrait, Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg bring two crucial architects of America to vivid life. With particular attention to the oft-overlooked story of James Madison, the authors chronicle a decades-long collaboration and friendship that made an indelible imprint on the 18th and 19th centuries–and which still shapes the 21st.”
–Jon Meacham, author of American Lion: Andrew Jackson in the White House, winner of the Pulitzer Prize
“Madison and Jefferson is a great book. Demonstrating an assured mastery of the history of the American Revolution and the early republic, Burstein and Isenberg transcend the limits of the biographical form, offering a fresh account of the new nation's beginnings as well as nuanced and insightful portraits of both men. Madison and Jefferson will be recognized as the best treatment–by far–of the two great Virginians' extraordinary collaboration; it is also a superb contribution to our national self-understanding.”
–Peter S. Onuf, Thomas Jefferson Foundation Professor of History, University of Virginia.
“Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg are wonderful historians and accomplished authors who know every inch of the territory in early American history. Now in Madison and Jefferson they have written a book rich with insights into the characters, temperaments, thoughts, and lives of these two important Founders. Burstein and Isenberg unravel the decades-long collaboration between Madison and Jefferson, showing the political battles they waged, the foes they fought, and the American world they longed to establish. This is a provocative and thought-provoking book, an engaging landmark achievement that will be the definitive word on Madison and Jefferson as founders of the American Republic.”
–John Ferling, author of The Ascent of George Washington: The Hidden Political Genius of an American Icon
“Madison and Jefferson–they created a friendship and a partnership that lasted for more than a half century. Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg have written a compelling narrative that gives the reader a full appreciation of the importance of the collaboration between the two men. Their account, while by no means minimizing Thomas Jefferson’s achievements, elevates Madison to an equal status in their partnership. In the process, they provide the reader with a clear-headed perspective on the vital role that both men played in the creation of a democratic American nation.”
–Richard Beeman, author of Plain Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution
“An important, thoughtful, and gracefully written political history.”—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
“[A] monumental dual biography . . . a distinguished work, combining deep research, a pleasing narrative style and an abundance of fresh insights, a rare combination.”—The Dallas Morning News
“A superb book that greatly deepens our understanding of these founders.”—Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“Enough colorful characters for a miniseries, loaded with backstabbing (and frontstabbing too).”—Newsday
“A richly detailed account . . . that humanizes its subjects.”—Tulsa World
“A remarkably lucid account . . . With stunning style and clarity, [Burstein and Isenberg have] meticulously reexamined this political relationship.”—Library Journal