The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation's Call to Greatness

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9780306818080: The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation's Call to Greatness
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In this lively and compelling biography Harlow Giles Unger reveals the dominant political figure of a generation. A fierce fighter in four critical Revolutionary War battles and a courageous survivor of Valley Forge and a near-fatal wound at the Battle of Trenton, James Monroe (1751–1831) went on to become America's first full-time politician, dedicating his life to securing America's national and international durability.

Decorated by George Washington for his exploits as a soldier, Monroe became a congressman, a senator, U.S. minister to France and Britain, governor of Virginia, secretary of state, secretary of war, and finally America's fifth president. The country embraced Monroe's dreams of empire and elected him to two terms, the second time unanimously. Mentored by each of America's first four presidents, Monroe was unquestionably the best prepared president in our history.

Like David McCullough's John Adams and Jon Meacham's recent book on Andrew Jackson, this new biography of Monroe is both a solid read and stellar scholarship—history in the grand tradition.

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About the Author:

A veteran journalist, broadcaster, educator, and historian, Harlow Giles Unger is the author of fifteen books, including four biographies of America's Founding Fathers. He was recently named the 2008 Distinguished Visiting Fellow in American History at George Washington's Mount Vernon.


Kirkus, 8/15/09
“[A] cogent reexamination of a relatively neglected American icon...Unger makes a solid and cohesive argument for Monroe’s importance in the early years of the United States...A worthy attempt to rescue Monroe from obscurity for a mainstream audience.”, 9/26
“My lack of knowledge and interest in the first days of this great country have changed with the reading of The Last Founding Father. In the first five pages, I learned more about our fifth President, James Monroe, than I had learned in twelve years of schooling. Mr. Unger presents President Monroe in a way that makes him more real and accessible than high school textbooks...Mr. Unger has presented James Madison in the most human of ways...Monroe's story fills out our history. Mr. Unger has completed a well written biography of a most deserving subject.”

Bookviews blog, October
“America was fortunate to have [Monroe] as president during a critical time of growth and readers are fortunate to have this extraordinary biography.”
Booklist Online, 9/28
“In the pantheon of our Founding Fathers, James Monroe is, at best, given a place in the second row by most historians and in public consciousness. As Unger illustrates, that is both unfortunate and unfair...[Unger] makes a strong case for an acknowledgement of Monroe’s greatness...This is a worthy reconsideration of the life and accomplishments of an outstanding American statesman.”

The Oklahoman, 10/11
“Tells Monroe's story in a way that keeps the reader enthralled...It is a hard book to put down, and it flows extremely well.”
Tucson Citizen, “Shelf Life” blog, 10/11
“[Unger] has given Monroe the credit he richly deserves. The foundation of this book is bedrock solid, the narrative crisply written, and the research first rate.”

Curled Up With A Good Book
“Extremely fascinating and entertaining for both the general reader and the scholar. The veteran author has done well in researching and writing this book...A delight to read and highly recommended to those interested in either or both President James Monroe or early American history.”

January magazine, 10/22/09
“Harlow Giles Unger is one of those authors with the talent and skill -- not to mention passion—to breathe life into history—Unger builds a case for the importance of a vastly overlooked and underrated figure, America’s fifth President, James Monroe...Unger delivers his material on a wave of adventure and a compelling sense of importance. You won’t ever see the early history of America in quite the same way.”

Yale Alumni Magazine, November/December 2009
“Unger’s biography, written for a popular audience, tells the story of one of the less familiar founding fathers.”
Smoke magazine, Fall 2010
“Acclaimed historian Harlow Giles Unger captures the magnitude of Monroe’s contribution to the United States. The Last Founding Father traces the life of an extraordinary but often under-appreciated man who was born into the chaos of pre-revolutionary America but led it into its first period of peace—nearly forty years after it declared its independence.”

American History magazine, April 2010
"Attempts to resuscitate...the last of the great men present at the creation of the republic.”

Norfolk Virginian-Pilot, 2/21/10
“Readers unfamiliar with the two presidents—or those with a special interest in them—will be well rewarded by perusing these two well-crafted biographies.”

Kick Ass Book Reviews, 5/6/10
“[A] fascinating book...Monroe was just as important as any other founding father, and this biography will let you explore the reasons why.”
Richmond Times-Dispatch, 11/29/2009
The Last Founding Father is compelling both as a biography of a fascinating, unfairly neglected politician and a swift-reading account of the founding of a nation.”, 12/11/2009
“Supremely well-written and enlightening...Unger shows us much more than just a president...Unger goes a long way to opening up the eyes of a reader to the vast value Monroe had at the founding of our nation, and taking stock of all his achievements along the way brings a great sense of sadness that such a patriot should be so readily forgotten.”

Boston Globe, 12/26/09
“Will do much to raise awareness of this accomplished statesman...Unger’s skills as both a storyteller and political analyst enable him to convey the importance of the personalities and events of early-19th-century America in a detailed and enjoyable manner that will appeal to general readers.”

Asbury Park Press, 12/20/09
“Those interested in a more thorough knowledge of the events and personalities that carried the nation through the early 19th century might well begin with Unger's lively portrait of the patriot of whom Thomas Jefferson said: ‘A better man cannot be.’”
Augusta Metro Spirit, 11/4/09
“If there was ever a biography for American history, American politics, and American patriotism fans, this is it...An incredible journey through an incredible life at an incredible time in history...Unger takes readers on a detailed ride through the interactions often lost in textbook portraits and made-for-TV-movies...Written with delicate prose and an easy to follow narrative, Unger’s portrait of Monroe would make a great gift for the history buff in the family.”

Charlottesville Daily Progress, 11/15/09
“[A] fascinating book...[that] has more to it than Unger’s meticulous accounting of accomplishments and events. There are wonderful maps and illustrations.”

InfoDad blog, 12/3/09
“Monroe emerges as more than ‘just’ a president: he comes across as a multifaceted human being...Both Monroe and this period of United States history come alive.”

San Francisco Book Review and Sacramento Book Review, December 2009
“I appreciated Unger’s clarity of expression. His descriptions of the American and French Revolutions, the events surrounding the Louisiana Purchase, and the War of 1812 are among the most lucid I’ve read.”

Library Journal, 9/1/09
“[A] well-written biography...Unger presents the fifth president as a man of independence and initiative rather than merely a disciple of Jefferson, Madison, and John Quincy Adams...Will appeal to a more popular audience, especially those who enjoy presidential history or studying the Founding Fathers. Historians and history students should read as well.”

BookPage October 2009
“[A] compelling new biography... Unger deftly guides us through Monroe’s pre-presidential period... Unger’s outstanding biography of Monroe is consistently illuminating and a fine introduction to the subject.”

Internet Review of Books September 2009
“An excellent biography that sweepingly captures the grand life of this statesman...A remarkably readable biography of a great statesman of the new nation. The book is in many ways worthy of its subject. The narrative has a smooth rhythm, blending the personal and the public man. The historical context of the times is nicely woven into the tapestry of the story and is rarely burdensome for the common reader and impressive for its scope.”

The Washington Times, 9/27
“A workmanlike study of a workmanlike president.”

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Other Popular Editions of the Same Title

9780306819186: The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nation's Call to Greatness

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ISBN 10:  030681918X ISBN 13:  9780306819186
Publisher: Da Capo Press, 2010

9781606711279: The Last Founding Father

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9781458778369: The Last Founding Father: James Monroe and a Nations Call to Greatness

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