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Download James Madison Audiobook (Unabridged)

Extended Audio Sample James Madison (Unabridged), by Garry Wills
3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 3.00 (241 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: Garry Wills Narrator: Ira Claffey Publisher: Macmillan Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Release Date: July 2003 ISBN:
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The eternal conundrum about James Madison - a key framer of the U.S. Constitution, a formidable political figure, and a man of penetrating analytical intellect and tremendous foresight - is why, when he became chief executive, did he steer the ship of state with such an unsteady hand? Why was this man, whose pre-and post-presidential careers contributed so significantly to the future course of American political history, so lackluster and ineffectual in his tenure as president?

In this concise and readable examination of Madison's life and career, Garry Wills outlines the confluence of unfortunate circumstance, misplaced temperament, and outright poor judgment that bogged down Madison's presidency. Though a brilliant theoretician and effective legislator and collaborator, he was not a natural leader of men, and the absence of leadership was keenly felt during wartime. In fact, the War of 1812 was the first foreign war fought under the Constitution, and Madison was forced to adjust many of the assumptions he had made during the drafting of that document. He had to confront hard, practical issues such as public morale, internal security, relations with Congress, and the independence of the military. Though now remembered in part for fleeing the capital as it was under siege, Madison saw his administration come to a close with his popularity on the rise.

Madison's later life, neatly traced by Wills, was also of consequence. For two decades after he left office, he remained tightly bound to the political life of the nation, happily playing the role of popular elder statesman, curiously prefiguring so many of our recent presidents. Download and start listening now!

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Listener Opinions

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Alan | 2/5/2014

    " As part of my ongoing project to read a biography of every president I progressed from Jefferson to Madison. Madison quite frankly wasn't our most interesting or effective president. The War of 1812 seemed to be a debacle from the start and the book itself was a little too text-book like. Oh well. On to Monroe! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bob | 1/27/2014

    " Gary Wills knows how to write. In this short biography, he asks a simple question: how did a brilliant theorist and legislator become a lackluster president? The answer lies as much in the roles as in the man and is heavily informed by circumstance. Much to Wills' credit, he also demonstrates that the clarity of the poles he posits are not so clear, after all. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Michael Garner | 1/20/2014

    " Short read, read in less then a 24 hour period. I nice introduciton to the 4th president, mainly concentrating on his efforts during the constitution convention and his actions leading up and druing the war or 1812. Very little on his early or late life. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 William J. Shep | 10/12/2013

    " A balanced overview of Madison's career, but not Wills' best writing as he displays a certain ambivalence regarding Madison throughout his text. This may be valid but it leaves the reader somewhat unsatisfied in the end. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 James | 10/10/2013

    " I love The American Presidents series but this one, which is often comprised of long passages taken directly from Madison's own writing, is proving a difficult read. I'm about 50 pages into and just getting to where Madison enters into public service. Hopefully things will lighten up a bit. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Bruce Fieggen | 9/4/2013

    " It's pretty bad. I got more info on Madison by reading Hamilton and Jefferson's biographies. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Andy Biggs | 9/3/2013

    " A not very favorable review of Madison as president "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Melanie | 8/18/2013

    " This wasn't so much a biography of the man as it was an outline of his policies, which was really disappointing. After reading this book, I still feel like I know next to nothing about James Madison. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Mike | 7/3/2013

    " Not biographical in any sense, and a highly uninteresting treatise otherwise. Reads like a Ph.D. thesis. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Janet | 6/17/2013

    " I didn't enjoy this book. Felt like a chore to get through. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Sean Chick | 3/27/2013

    " A fine examination of Madison as president. I'm still unsure if there really is a James Madison problem, but certainly Wills is very convincing on this front. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bryan | 9/10/2012

    " James Madison was a brilliant founding father, commonly known as the "Father of the Constitution". However, as President, he had his struggles. He was more well liked after his term in office. Good read by Garry Wills, but a little heavy at times. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Sarah Riddle | 7/24/2012

    " I am going to get to see Garry Wills as part of the Humanities Fest and I wanted to read something else by him beforehand. It's cool because it focuses on Madison's time as president which was a tad lackluster. Holla "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 David Horney | 5/27/2012

    " focusing primarily on madison's presidency the author's contention is that he was a brilliant legislator/behind the scenes operator who kinda Peter Principled himself into the executive spot. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Victoria | 5/21/2012

    " Blech - what a poorly written biography. Would not recommend this. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brian | 2/7/2012

    " I learned a lot about our 4th President by reading this book. I'm not too impressed about his accomplishments as President, but he certainly wasn't our worst President either, but a long shot! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian | 7/29/2011

    " If you want to feel more hopeful about politics in America right now, just read about how ridiculous things were 200 years ago. We've come a long way. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tobi | 4/3/2011

    " This was a good overview of Madison. I didn't know much about him before and now I have a good basic knowledge of contributions besides him being the Father of the Constitution. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Katie Umland | 3/30/2011

    " A book for people who like history, but i was not really that impressed with it and only had to read it for college class. Not just about James Madison's Presidency, does have things about other history events in it. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jim | 2/9/2011

    " Garry Wills is always worth reading. He argues Madison's success as a legislator actually hindered him while he was President - which Wills views as less than successful. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Brian | 9/23/2010

    " I learned a lot about our 4th President by reading this book. I'm not too impressed about his accomplishments as President, but he certainly wasn't our worst President either, but a long shot! "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Bryan | 7/5/2010

    " James Madison was a brilliant founding father, commonly known as the "Father of the Constitution". However, as President, he had his struggles. He was more well liked after his term in office. Good read by Garry Wills, but a little heavy at times. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 David | 5/3/2010

    " focusing primarily on madison's presidency the author's contention is that he was a brilliant legislator/behind the scenes operator who kinda Peter Principled himself into the executive spot. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Shep | 4/18/2010

    " A balanced overview of Madison's career, but not Wills' best writing as he displays a certain ambivalence regarding Madison throughout his text. This may be valid but it leaves the reader somewhat unsatisfied in the end. "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Bruce | 3/15/2010

    " It's pretty bad. I got more info on Madison by reading Hamilton and Jefferson's biographies. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Brian | 2/13/2010

    " If you want to feel more hopeful about politics in America right now, just read about how ridiculous things were 200 years ago. We've come a long way. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 James | 11/14/2009

    " I love The American Presidents series but this one, which is often comprised of long passages taken directly from Madison's own writing, is proving a difficult read. I'm about 50 pages into and just getting to where Madison enters into public service. Hopefully things will lighten up a bit. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Tobi | 10/22/2009

    " This was a good overview of Madison. I didn't know much about him before and now I have a good basic knowledge of contributions besides him being the Father of the Constitution. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Jim | 6/5/2009

    " Garry Wills is always worth reading. He argues Madison's success as a legislator actually hindered him while he was President - which Wills views as less than successful.
    "

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