Liberty’s Blueprint: How Madison and Hamilton Wrote the Federalist Papers, Defined the Constitution, and Made Democracy Safe for the World

Michael I. Meyerson, Author . Basic $26 (309p) ISBN 978-0-465-00264-1

Thomas Jefferson called it “the best commentary on the principles of government which ever was written.” High praise, indeed, for The Federalist , that compendium of brilliant essays on power written in 1787–1788 by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison (with an assist from John Jay) to persuade waverers to ratify the proposed Constitution. Recent scholars have downplayed the work’s influence, claiming the essays circulated only among New Yorkers or convinced no one who wasn’t already convinced. Meyerson (Political Numeracy ), a professor of law at the University of Baltimore, argues conversely that The Federalist remains of critical importance for understanding not only early America but today’s divisive debates on issues like clean-air regulation and medical marijuana. In the book’s first half, he succinctly narrates the astonishing story of how Hamilton and Madison—the first combustible and heedless, the other priggish and intellectual—subsumed their differences and forged a genuine friendship that lasted only as long as their writing partnership. In the second part, Meyerson analyzes the various meanings and conflicting interpretations of The Federalist over the following centuries. By combining the personal and the constitutional, law and history, Meyerson has produced a remarkably insightful volume on a crucial American document. (Mar.)

Reviewed on: 01/07/2008
Release date: 03/01/2008
Genre: Nonfiction
Paperback - 309 pages - 978-0-465-01823-9
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