By Richard Brookhiser
Basic Books, $26.99, 287 pages

James Madison was one of the youngest members of the Constitutional Convention. He is known as the man who was President when the British burnt the White House, in the War of 1812. He made his mark on politics and the country but it was not always a smooth ride. Trying to find out who the real Madison was has been a problem for historians across the years; Richard Brookhiser takes on James Madison.

James Madison was born into a wealthy Virginia plantation family. Soon after finishing college the Revolutionary War broke out and he went to join his fellow radicals in Congress. After attending the Deceleration of Independence, he worked with Alexander Hamilton and called a Constitutional Convention to change the Articles. Shortly after this he was elected to the House, and served as Secretary of State when Thomas Jefferson was President. His turn as President eventually came in 1808 and he would serve three terms.

Madison is a tough nut to crack. He is the founder of political parties, and political machines. He was good at running a political party, not so good at running a new country.  He made his mark, but he is largely overshadowed.

Kevin Winter