cover image Madison and Jefferson

Madison and Jefferson

Andrew Burstein and Nancy Isenberg, Random, $35 (832p) ISBN 978-1-4000-6728-2

This thick but satisfyingly rich dual biography promotes Madison from junior partner to full-fledged colleague of the "more magnetic" Jefferson. According to the authors, Madison's popular image peaked in 1789 as "father of the Constitution." But Burstein (Jefferson's Secrets) and Isenberg (Fallen Founder), both LSU history professors, see him as a canny, effective politician for four decades, from the Continental Congress through his two terms as America's fourth president. An adviser to Governor Jefferson of Virginia from 1779 to 1781, Madison was a leading congressman when Jefferson served as Washington's secretary of state, and vigorously supported Jefferson in the ultimately unsuccessful struggle against federalist Alexander Hamilton's influence. As scholarly as Jefferson but more politically astute, the authors say, Madison was less inclined to hold grudges and make enemies. In modern terms, he was Jefferson's campaign manager in 1796 and 1800; as Jefferson's secretary of state he strongly influenced his leader's policies before moving on to his own equally strong presidency. An important, thoughtful, and gracefully written political history from the viewpoint of the young nation's two most intellectual founding fathers. 16 pages of b&w photos, 1 map. (Oct.)