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Tuesday, December 17, 2013

Book Review: Founding Rivals by Chris DeRose

founding rivals

Founding Rivals by Chris DeRose
Unabridged, 9 hr. 41 min.
Tantor Audio
Adam Verner (Narrator)
April 23, 2012

Genre: Non-Fiction, Biography

Source: Downloaded audiobook from Audible

“In 1789, James Madison and James Monroe ran against each other for Congress—the only time that two future presidents have contested a congressional seat.

But what was at stake, as author Chris DeRose reveals in Founding Rivals: Madison vs. Monroe, the Bill of Rights, and the Election That Saved a Nation, was more than personal ambition. This was a race that determined the future of the Constitution, the Bill of Rights, the very definition of the United States of America.

Friends and political allies for most of their lives, Madison was the Constitution’s principal author, Monroe one of its leading opponents. Monroe thought the Constitution gave the federal government too much power and failed to guarantee fundamental rights. Madison believed that without the Constitution, the United States would not survive.

It was the most important congressional race in American history, more important than all but a few presidential elections, and yet it is one that historians have virtually ignored. In Founding Rivals, DeRose, himself a political strategist who has fought campaigns in Madison and Monroe’s district, relives the campaign, retraces the candidates’ footsteps, and offers the first insightful, comprehensive history of this high-stakes political battle.”

While I know a lot about James Madison, I know comparatively virtually nothing about James Monroe prior to his presidency. In Founding Rivals, DeRose takes a look at these two figures in the lead up to their presidencies and how they truly became rivals in politics. These two men were Founding Fathers of the Constitution and the formation of the early government of the United States.

These men were not always rivals; early on they were colleagues until their political ideologies began to differ. This would ultimately lead to their competition with each other for the same Congressional seat. It was interesting to get into the mindset of politics of the time and see how different politicking is today.

This book just barely touches upon their presidencies – the primary focus is their early days in politics and military. It is designed to give you a build up to their Congressional competition and place these men in their respective situations. While not a presidential biography, read in association with a strict presidential biography this book lends a lot to the discussion and understanding of these men.



This wasn’t a poorly produced audio production, but it was a book that probably would have worked better in print. There were stretches that were a little boring to listen to, tedious details and such. There were two very interesting scenes that stood out in the audio – a stormy night when the Virginia delegates were hearing and discussing the Constitution as well as the campaigning for the Congressional seat.

Author Chris DeRose also has written two other presidential themed books: Congressman Lincoln and The Presidents’ War: Six American Presidents and the Civil War that Divided Them. You can visit the author’s blog for additional information about the books.

It might be interesting to note, there was a little scandal surrounding the publishing of this book. Apparently the author failed to attribute some statistical data to another author who had previously published a similar book. Attributions have since been made, but it made for an interesting read, since we discuss plagiarism in the blog world all the time.

Reviews of this book by other bloggers:

Here are some choices for purchasing the book: Amazon, B&N, RJ Julia (my fav indie bookstore).


Copyright © 2013 by The Maiden’s Court

1 comment:

  1. Oooh, drama! (Both for the book and about the book!) I'm shamefully unfamiliar with both these presidents.


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