Chris DeRose has written a terrific book about a little understood period of American history, those years between the Declaration of Independence in 1776 and the first session of Congress under the Constitution in 1789.

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

Beyond the story of Madison and Monroe, one thing that struck me time and again was how similar the country’s problems were as a nascent nation and today as a world superpower. The very first tax bill that came before Congress went nowhere and was punted to a “Committee”. Really. On day one of the first session of Congress, the country had a “staggering” $54 million debt, 12% of which was owned by foreign governments. Sound familiar? Madison did a study of failed governments throughout history and the common thread he discovered was paralysis. They were no longer able to govern. Super committee anyone? Overseas rivals mocking our government’s ability to function, not to mention our balance sheet. China and Russia do this regularly. Even intransigent politicians ignoring directives goes back to our Founding. When Pulitzer-prize winner Ron Suskind joined us to talk Confidence Men, he told a story about Treasury Secretary Geithner ignoring a directive from President Obama to break apart Citigroup. Geithner disagreed so he simply ignored it. In Founding Rivals, the order was to strike a deal with Spain to secure access to the Mississippi River. New York’s John Jay didn’t agree and set out to do the exact opposite. Thanks largely to Madison and Monroe, he was unsuccessful.

It was remarkable how relevant this book is today. At it’s core, it is the story of life long allies who ultimately became political rivals without becoming personal enemies. Buy this book for any history lover on your holiday shopping list!

The Pundit Review Radio Podcast RSS feed can be found here and you can find us on iTunes at Pundit Review Radio.

What is Pundit Review Radio?

On Boston’s Talk Station WRKO since 2005, Pundit Review Radio is where the old media meets the new. Each week we give voice to the work of the most influential leaders in the new media/citizen journalist revolution. Called “groundbreaking” by Talkers Magazine, this unique show brings the best of the blogs to the radio every Sunday evening from 6-9pm on AM680 WRKO, Boston’s Talk Station.