The best one-volume biography of Madison’s life, Ketcham’s biography not only traces Madison’s career, it gives listeners a sense of the man. As Madison said of his early years in Virginia under the study of Donald Robertson, who introduced him to thinkers like Montaigne and Montesquieu, "all that I have been in life I owe largely to that man." It also captures a side of Madison that is less rarely on display.
"Madison's personality comes alive in these pages, his strengths and weaknesses of mind and character clearly outlined. His great services in the Constitutional Convention of 1787 are graphically portrayed. The analysis of his political theory, and of the way in which he sought to apply it to the establishment of of government under the Constitution, is excellent. The depiction of Jeffersonian and Madisonian foreign policy up to the outbreak of the War of 1812 is clear and succinct. This is an excellent biography." (American Historical Review)
"Utilizing the vast amount of source material made available in the last 30 years, Ketcham has captured the essential man in his times and in doing so has made him understandable for us in our own day." (Los Angeles Times)
"This single volume has provided a penetrating and highly readable biography which merits distinction as the best one-volume life of Madison yet written." (Virginia Magazine of History and Biography)