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James Madison

A Biography
Ralph Ketcham

BUY Paper · 760 pp. · 6 × 9 · ISBN 9780813912653 · $25.00 · Mar 1990

The best one volume biography of Madison’s life, Ketcham’s biography not only traces Madison’s career, it gives readers a sense of the man. As Madison said of his early years in Virginia under the study of Donald Robertson, who introduced him to thinkers like Montaigne and Montesquieu, "all that I have been in life I owe largely to that man." It also captures a side of Madison that is less rarely on display (including a portrait of the beautiful Dolley Madison).


"Madison's personality comes alive in these pages, his strengths and weaknesses of mind and character clearly outlined. His great services in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 are graphically portrayed. The analysis of his political theory, and of the way in which he sought to apply it to the establishment of of government under the Constitution, is excellent. The depiction of Jeffersonian and Madisonian foreign policy up to the outbreak of the War of 1812 is clear and succinct. This is an excellent biography.

American Historical Review

Utilizing the vast amount of source material made available in the last 30 years, Ketcham has captured the essential man in his times and in doing so has made him understandable for us in our own day.

Los Angeles Times

This single volume has provided a penetrating and highly readable biography which merits distinction as the best one-volume life of Madison yet written.

Virginia Magazine of History and Biography

Ketcham's long-standing familiarity with Madison's life and times is evident in this accessible work...Ketcham has written an enjoyable and scholarly narrative that will no doubt be considered of great value to Montpelier's more serious visitors, as well as students, scholars, and general readers with an interest in the founding couple.

Kellie Strickland, North Carolina State University · North Carolina Historical Review

About the Author(s): 

Ralph Ketcham is Professor of American Studies, Political Science, and Public Affairs, the Maxwell School of Citizenship and Public Affairs, Syracuse University. His most recent publications are Presidents above Party: The First American Presidency, 1789-1829 and Individualism and Public Life: An American Dilemma.

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