Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times
by Joel Richard Paul
Release Date: Feb 20, 2018
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Without exception, the Founding Fathers were a fascinating bunch. And while every American is aware of George Washington and Alexander Hamilton, relatively few appreciate the humble origins or exceptional leadership provided by John Marshall.
A Revolutionary rifleman who survived the harsh winter at Valley Forge, Marshall later became a lawyer, member of Congress, served as Secretary of State and, in the waning hours of the John Adams presidency, was nominated to the U.S. Supreme Court. Here, of course, he made his most visible and durable contributions to the new nation.
By all accounts, Joel Richard Paul has written a balanced, compelling and richly detailed biography of a man whose life leaves a stronger impression on our country than most of us appreciate. I am planning to read this biography in alongside Jean Edward Smith’s highly regarded “John Marshall: Definer of a Nation.”
Third-party reviews and links:
- Wall Street Journal review dated Feb 16, 2018 (by Fergus Bordewich)
- National Review review dated June 21, 2018 (by Matthew Spalding)
- San Francisco Chronicle review dated Mar 7, 2018 (by Kate Galbraith)
- Kirkus review dated Feb 20, 2018
- Joel Richard Paul’s authors’ web page
From the publisher:
John Marshall’s legacy had a great 2018 between Paul’s book and Richard Brookhiser’s late-year release. I recently (2017) read Unger’s book on Marshall and found it lacking. Typical Unger – well written, but fairly shallow. Brookhiser’s book is next up in my queue.
An interesting tidbit from the author’s site; https://joelrichardpaul.com/about-the-author/
Q: I understand that you’ve turned UNLIKELY ALLIES into a musical. Any theatrical plans for WITHOUT PRECEDENT?
A: We are thinking about it.
When I was looking for a great John Marshall bio I recall the one by Unger seeming “ok” but not particularly noteworthy so I quickly settled on Jean Edward Smith’s book. But as you note, 2018 seemed a great year for Marshall, and I’ve heard the JRP bio of him was excellent. Haven’t heard anything about Brookhiser’s…
I’ll be looking for the musical 🙂
I listened to a couple JRP interviews when his book was published and was quite impressed. The book is on my shelf, but in the ‘later’ pile for now.
I’ve always wanted to read a bio on Marshall and I just recently put Paul’s book in my online basket, but I will wait for your reviews of this and JES’s treatment of the Chief Justice to see which one is better.
Alan Nathan said:
I highly recommed the Marshall bio by Jean Edward Smith, which I found far better than Paul. I also recommend Kent Newmyer’s book John Marshall and the Heroic Age of the Supreme Court, which is a bit more scholarly but does a superb job with Marshall’s jurisprudence. Brookhiser’s new book is fine, but brief, as usual for him.