10 Must-Read Books on James Madison

Although James Madison is not typically one of the Founding Fathers that comes to mind when discussing American history, he was a pivotal figure in the early days of our country. 

A bookworm from a young age, Madison's intellectual prowess led him to play a critical role in framing the Constitution and ratifying it. He also served as the Secretary of State and fourth President of the United States. 

If you're interested in learning more about this fascinating man, here are 10 books about James Madison that will get you started.

Books on James Madison

1. James Madison: A Biography

James Madison Biography

Written by: Ralph Louis Ketcham

Published: 1971

Pages: 753

Most people know James Madison as the father of the Constitution and one of the key players in the United States' early years.

But what many don't know is that Madison was also an accomplished diplomat and philosopher who had a profound impact on America's history.

In James Madison: A Biography, Ralph Louis Ketcham provides a detailed look at Madison's life and career, painting a clear picture of this important figure in American history.

>> More about the other Founding Father's of the US

2. James Madison

James Madison

Written by: Richard Brookhiser

Published: 2011

Pages: 287

There is no figure quite like James Madison in American history. The "Father of the Constitution" and fourth president, Madison, was a driving force behind creating the United States and its government.

But he was also a brilliant thinker who left his mark on political theory long after his time in office. Richard Brookhiser's biography, James Madison, provides an in-depth look at this remarkable man - from his upbringing to his work as a legislator to his role in shaping the early United States.

It is an essential read for anyone interested in American history or politics.

3. Madison and Jefferson

Madison and Jefferson

Written by: Andrew Burstein, Nancy Isenberg

Published: 2010

Pages: 809

Few figures loom as prominent in the American political landscape as James Madison and Thomas Jefferson. The two men were key players in the development of our young country and left an indelible mark on American history.

In Madison and Jefferson, author Andrew Burstein takes a close look at their lives and careers, exploring the complicated and important relationship between the two men.

You’ll learn more about Madison’s role as Jefferson’s Secretary of State, how they worked together to form the first political party in history, and their work to secure the Louisiana Purchase.

>> More about Thomas Jefferson

4. James Madison: A Life Reconsidered

James Madison: A Life Reconsidered

Written by: Lynne Cheney

Published: 2014

Pages: 576

It has been said that James Madison is one of the most underappreciated U.S. Presidents in history. Lynne Cheney, the wife of former Vice President Dick Cheney, seeks to change that with her book on Madison's life and legacy.

In James Madison: A Life Reconsidered, Cheney brings new insight to America's fourth president, revealing a far more complex man than many realize.

Through personal anecdotes and thorough research, Cheney paints a portrait of Madison as a brilliant thinker and skilled politician whose impact on American history is undeniable.

5. The Burning of the White House: James and Dolley Madison and the War of 1812

The Burning of the White House

Written by: Jane Hampton Cook

Published: 2016

Pages: 352

In August of 1814, the British invaded Washington D.C. and set fire to the White House. This event was a devastating blow to the presidency and the United States.

President James Madison and his wife Dolley were forced to flee their home in the middle of the night, and they barely escaped with their lives.

The War of 1812 was a turning point for American history, and the burning of several buildings in D.C. and the White House was a defining moment in that war.

In this book, you'll learn more about this critical moment in U.S. History.

>> Additional books about the War of 1812

6. Founding Rivals: Madison vs. Monroe, The Bill of Rights, and The Election that Saved a Nation

Founding Rivals

Written by: Chris DeRose

Published: 2011

Pages: 336

Throughout the history of the United States, there have been many elections that changed the shape of our nation. One isn’t as well known or talked about that often.

The year was 1789. The election was for a seat in Congress. The two running for the seat were James Madison and James Monroe.

The winner, Madison, helped ensure the Constitution and the federal government's survival early on in history. Madison was a firm believer in the Constitution. Monroe felt that it overstepped and was too powerful a document for the states.

In this book, you'll learn about the friendship between these two men. You'll also learn how each of these two Founding Fathers was on a different side during the formation of the nation.

7. The Constitutional Convention: A Narrative History from the Notes of James Madison

The Constitutional Convention

Written by: James Madison, Edward J. Larson, Michael P. Winship

Published: 2005

Pages: 256

In 1787, fifty-five delegates from the thirteen colonies convened in Philadelphia to revise the Articles of Confederation. After four months of deliberation, they produced the United States Constitution. To this day, the Constitution remains a living document, with each generation interpreting its provisions in new and unique ways.

The notes of James Madison–arguably the most essential delegate at the Convention–provide a first-hand account of these momentous proceedings. This book offers a comprehensive narrative history of the Convention based on Madison's notes, as well as an examination of how they have been used and interpreted over time.

8. The First Congress: How James Madison, George Washington, and a Group of Extraordinary Men Invented the Government

The First Congress

Written by: Fergus M. Bordewich

Published: 2016

Pages: 416

In 1789, a new era in United States history began with the first meeting of the United States Congress. George Washington was elected as America's first president to lead this vital group of legislators. Joining him in Congress were many notable Founding Fathers, including James Madison and Benjamin Franklin.

Over the next two years, this group of men helped create the government, including the first amendments to the Constitution, how to balance the power within the government, and the final location of the national capital.

Their work during the First Congress set the foundation for our country's future.

In this book, you’ll learn more about Maidson’s role in these first two years of Congress.

>> More books about President George Washington

9. The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President

The Three Lives of James Madison

Written by: Noah Feldman

Published: 2017

Pages: 816

Noah Feldman's new book, The Three Lives of James Madison: Genius, Partisan, President, is a fresh and insightful look at the life of one of America's most influential Founding Fathers.

Drawing on Madison's correspondence and public papers, Feldman paints a nuanced portrait of Madison that goes beyond the popular image as a brilliant thinker and skilled politician.

Feldman details three distinct periods in Madison’s life and how he changed that look of the U.S. in each one.

10. The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers

The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers

Written by: Thomas Fleming

Published: 2009

Pages: 480

It's no secret that our Founding Fathers were incredibly talented and accomplished individuals. But what many people don't know is that they were also complex human beings with rich, intimate lives. In his book, The Intimate Lives of the Founding Fathers, Thomas Fleming provides a fascinating look at the private side of these famous men.

From George Washington's vibrant personal life to John Adams' complicated relationship with his wife Abigail, the private lives of our Founding Fathers are explored in meticulous detail.

This book offers a unique perspective on American history and provides an exciting glimpse into the minds of some of our country's most influential figures.