A vivid portrait of the small man with a small voice who was the first to arrive at the Constitutional Convention in 1787, as well as the last survivor of that august body when he died in 1836--and who played perhaps the most vital, central role in US history in the years between. Marshalling her facts with her usual clarity and humor, Fritz portrays Madison as a fair-minded, modest man who dedicated his life to getting the Constitution and the Bill of Rights written and then making them work. Though it was difficult to hear his soft voice, people knew that "they could count on him to bring reason to bear on the subject, whether they agreed with him or not"; people listened to him--and voted for him--even when his antagonist was as gifted an orator as his lifelong opponent, Patrick Henry. Fritz includes some personal details, especially about Madison's popular, Quaker-turned-fashionable-hostess wife and his close friendship with Jefferson, but she concentrates on the many points in history when Madison's influence was critical. It's not clear where he got the funds for his opulent life-style; he's described as a not-very-successful Virginia farmer who always opposed slavery but who (unlike his father-in-law) never freed his own slaves, in part (Fritz implies) because he couldn't afford that luxury. An excellent, fascinating, indispensable resource.