As you can tell from my past reviews, I like to write about the wisdom of history as it traces our nation’s rich intellectual legacy largely garnered through the invaluable lessons of Western thought that, in turn, lead us to insights about the three hundred years of Capitalism that has shaped our country and provided us with a very rich personal and national life. I would say, a life beyond our wildest dreams; one desired by all others; one to be protected for our progeny from future financial or villainous calamity.
But, mostly, I like to read about the every day American who stepped forth upon the world stage to represent us in times of great national or international peril with their unsuspected innate abilities to seize the moment and rescue the day regardless of its great personal danger. That singular aspect, some call it the essence of American Exceptionalism, has been the history of America and fosters ordinary citizen desire to protect our freedom and our Republic. Those moments of national danger also teach us much about the risks and rewards of being a superpower. C-133 crewmembers were an important part of such history during the latter part of the 20th century and we celebrated many of the events that involved us during our recent reunion.
So, I follow now with my winter 2010-2011 reading list that I shall take into my den, shut out the cold and darkness, and feast upon America’s past as it has been molded into greatness through the profundity of its leaders imbued with western thought. Enjoy!
I. James Madison by Jack N. Rakove:
Some months ago I read that James Madison, our fourth President, was the most profound of our Founders and that piqued my interest, as Hamilton has always been my favorite. So, I immediately called upon one of my college professor friends, who is a historian of merit, and asked him who has published the most readable biography of Madison that would suit C-133 crew members. He immediately suggested Rakove's as meeting my request.
Rakove notes that even though Madison’s contemporaries of the time excelled him in many ways, Madison’s reputation was as “…the most original, creative, and penetrating political thinker of his generation in creating the extended national republic of the United States”. He had many partners but few equals and played a key role in every significant development of our Nation during his career that spanned four decades. The author cites him as the author of the Constitution, and of the Bill of Rights, and Author of The Federalist.
To his last days, Madison was fascinated with the rights of majorities to rule and the dangers in allowing them to do so. That led him to constantly study the proper balance between the Union and its member states. Madison thusly anticipated the expanded protection of individual and minority rights by the federal Government that took place during the 20th century; and, Rakove considers that a potent legacy for a statesman born 260 years ago. The tyranny of the majority is a question we still debate and was significant in our just completed national elections.
I finished this very enjoyable biography a few weeks ago and do agree that Madison was a most profound thinker during the creation of the American Republic, and maybe the most profound. I believe you will as well.
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