Review of “Madison and Jefferson” by Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg

My Journey Through the Best Presidential Biographies

Madison and Jefferson” is the 2010 dual biography of our third and fourth presidents: their personalities, philosophies, presidencies and their nearly lifelong relationship with each other.  Authors Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg are both professors of history at Louisiana State University.  Burstein is the author of previous books on Jefferson, Washington Irving and Andrew Jackson.  Isenberg is perhaps best known for her 2008 biography of Aaron Burr.

“Madison and Jefferson” purports to be more than just a dual biography of two extraordinary founding fathers and friends.  It claims itself an intense narrative, a stunning new look at two hardcore politicians who launched a young nation into the nineteenth century on a path of ruthless and gritty politics.  In its six-hundred-plus pages of text it offers up several provocative theses (including that Madison’s work at the Constitutional Convention leaves him undeserving of the title “Father of the Constitution”) and…

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