Download A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America's First Presidential Campaign Audiobook

A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, Americas First Presidential Campaign Audiobook, by Edward J. Larson Extended Sample Click for printable size audiobook cover
Author: Edward J. Larson Narrator: John Dossett Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio Format: Abridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: September 2007 ISBN: 9780743569057
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (277 ratings) (rate this audio book)
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In the bestselling tradition of John Adams and 1776
...a riveting story of our Founding Fathers

Pulitzer Prize-winner Edward Larson's masterful account revisits the wild ride that was the 1800 presidential election -- an election so convulsive and so momentous that Thomas Jefferson would later dub it "America's second revolution." This was America's first true presidential campaign, giving birth to our two-party system and indelibly etching the lines of partisanship that have shaped American politics ever since. Once warm friends, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson faced off as the heads of their two still-forming parties flanked by the brilliant tacticians Alexander Hamilton and Aaron Burr, who settled their own differences in a duel.

Drawing on unprecedented, meticulous research of the day to day unfolding drama, Larson vividly recreates the mounting tension as each state voted and the lead passed back and forth. The outcome remained shrouded in doubt long after the voting ended, and as Inauguration Day approached, Congress met in closed session to resolve the crisis. In its first great electoral challenge, our fragile experiment in constitutional democracy hung in the balance. Download and start listening now!


Quotes & Awards

  • “As long as elections remain free and contested, they will often be ‘magnificent catastrophes’ with partisans scurrying for advantage, campaigns lurching out of control, conscientious citizens becoming both involved and appalled. A master storyteller, Larson illustrates these conclusions through a gripping narrative…A Magnificent Catastrophe highlights the remarkable continuities linking our politics with the framers’. Many of their contradictions and confusions persist along with their institutions and insights because the dilemmas they faced can never be resolved.” 

    New York Times Book Review

  • “A splendid new book.” 

    Washington Post

  • “Every page bustles with larger-than-life characters from the American Revolution, all of whom seemed to grasp the critical importance of this hard-fought election in a very young and fragile nation.” 

    Atlanta magazine

  • “Pulitzer Prize–winner Larson vividly recounts America’s first overtly partisan election…Smartly conceived, beautifully wrought campaign history, bound to entertain and inform.” 

    Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

Listener Reviews

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  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Karl | 12/29/2013

    " Makes the 2000 election look tame! The beginnings of party politics in the United States. When the country survived this election, its survival seemed much more certain. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Pedro | 11/18/2013

    " I thoroughly enjoyed this one. A recount of the 1800 presidential campaign between Adams and Jefferson, it shows the roots of partisanship in the United States as well as the political turmoil of early America. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Michael | 11/4/2013

    " A solid introduction to the election of 1800. If you want a well written book with solid research, then this is a good choice. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 James | 11/3/2013

    " I've read a bit about the election of 1800 through biographies of Jefferson, Adams, Hamilton, etc. but this book was interesting in that it looked at the one event, giving it a better opportunity to provide context. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Leslie | 10/21/2013

    " i heart thomas jefferson! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Wendy | 10/8/2013

    " This is an interesting book. I don't know if it was frightening or comforting to know that the same kind of things were going on in politics in 1800 as now. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 MPA | 5/19/2013

    " This dry (dry, dry) book took me what seemed like forever to finish - but now that I did, I am full of a wonderful understanding of the founding days of our country. I'm glad I conquered it! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 David | 11/3/2011

    " I enjoyed this book a great deal. It describes the first real presidential "campaign." Interesting are the details regarding the lesser known aspects of the relationship between Adams and Jefferson. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Andrew | 8/31/2011

    " Our political system was doomed from the start. This is a great book about the election of 1800. If you think today's elections are vicious, think again! "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Marla | 2/1/2011

    " Wow. You'll never see American history the same way again. Highly recommended, but be prepared to be disgusted that politics (and mankind) have always been the same. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Shellie | 3/18/2010

    " This book is about the Presidential election of 1800 between Adams and Jefferson. I'm learning alot, but it's a very slow read. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Aaron | 3/16/2010

    " Interesting look at the hotly contested and long drawn out election pitting Jefferson vs Adams. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ani | 8/27/2009

    " A pretty good read. You will be surprised to see just how little has changed in campaign history from 1800 to 2000!! "

About the Author

Edward J. Larson is a Pulitzer Prize–winning historian, a legal scholar, and a New York Times bestselling author. His book Summer for the Gods: The Scopes Trial and America’s Continuing Debate over Science and Religion won the 1998 Pulitzer Prize in HIstory. He is a university professor of history and holds the Hugh & Hazel Darling Chair in Law at Pepperdine University.