What Kind of Nation

Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States

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About The Book

The bitter and protracted struggle between President Thomas Jefferson and Supreme Court Chief Justice John Marshall defined the basic constitutional relationship between the executive and judicial branches of government. More than one hundred fifty years later, their clashes still reverberate in constitutional debates and political battles.

In this dramatic and fully accessible account of these titans of the early republic and their fiercely held ideas, James F. Simon brings to life the early history of the nation and sheds new light on the highly charged battle to balance the powers of the federal government and the rights of the states. A fascinating look at two of the nation's greatest statesmen and shrewdest politicians, What Kind of Nation presents a cogent, unbiased assessment of their lasting impact on American government.

About The Author

Photo by Marcia L. Simon

James F. Simon is the Martin Professor of Law and Dean Emeritus at New York Law School. He is the author of seven previous books on American history, law, and politics. His books have won the American Bar Association’s Silver Gavel Award and twice been named New York Times Notable Books. He lives with his wife in West Nyack, New York.

Product Details

  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster (March 10, 2003)
  • Length: 352 pages
  • ISBN13: 9780684848716

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Raves and Reviews

Joseph J. Ellis The New York Times Book Review A study of the political and legal struggle between these icons of American history...A major contribution...A model of narrative history written by someone who knows the law.

A. J. Langguth author of Patriots: The Men Who Started the American Revolution and Our Vietnam James Simon has written a legal suspense story, with John Marshall trying to wrench the Supreme Court from a cramped room in the Capitol building to its rightful place under the Constitution while a suspicious President Jefferson fights him bitterly from behind the scenes. What Kind of Nation helps us to understand the court battles that go on today, no less partisan, no less urgent.

The Washington Post James Simon adds a patina of freshness and telling detail to this familiar story. He carefully traces the origins of the rivalry...but is at his best when he gets around to the great cases, not merely Marbury but others, especially the Burr treason trial...What Kind of Nation is a fine read.

The American Prospect James Simon retells this splendid story in clear and elegant prose. For once the publisher's subtitle is not exaggeration -- the result is, at least in legal terms, an epic of the founding, featuring fascinating antagonists, enormous consequences, and alternating episodes of nobility and treachery.

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