The Extraordinary Origins of
the Least Likely Founding Father
Kirkus Reviews called Michael Signer’s Becoming Madison “A perfect
introduction to a deeply private and immensely important man.” For
a time when America is desperately looking for leadership comes
this inspiring story of James Madison’s coming of age. Read what The Richmond
Times-Dispatch called "an essential biography of an essential founder."
"In this highly readable and often insightful treatment, Signer . . . colors in the portrait, finding the essential Madison in the young man as he charts the diminutive Virginian's "evolving character and his emerging ideas." . . . He's particularly good at showing how Madison's discipline, relentless logic and faith in reason allowed him to triumph over his in-state antagonist, Patrick Henry. A perfect introduction to a deeply private and immensely important man."− Kirkus
"Becoming Madison is superb. The history is lively and engaging. But Michael Signer’s greatest contribution is to turn a biography of Madison into a manual on leadership that is as relevant and valuable today as it was 200 years ago."− Anne-Marie Slaughter, Director of Policy Planning, U.S. State Department, 2009-2011 and President and CEO, New America Foundation
"For centuries James Madison has been overshadowed by the more striking and charismatic members of America’s founding generation. And Madison’s youth has been even less well known than his maturity. Michael Signer goes far toward filling this historical gap with an engaging, insightful account of how the unassuming young Madison became the hero of the Constitution."− H. W. Brands, University of Texas at Austin, author of Andrew Jackson, His Life and Times and The Man Who Saved the Union: Ulysses Grant in War and Peace
"Michael Signer’s Becoming Madison offers a gripping portrait of the emergence and development of the leadership of one of our country’s great architects. We are wonderfully reminded of the power of a single person’s passion, humility, and statesmanship in shaping a nation’s destiny."− Michael Useem, Professor of Management and Director of the Center for Leadership and Change at the Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania
"James Madison would be called a "flip-flopper" in today's political climate. Thank God he changed his mind and concluded that adding a Bill of Rights to the Constitution was not just good politics but necessary policy. This is just one of the wonderful aspects of James Madison's life that Michael Signer captures so well in this important biography. Our nation owes huge debts to Madison, and today's civic leaders owe a huge debt to Signer for reminding us why."− Tim Kaine, former Virginia Governor and current U.S. Senator
About Michael Signer
Michael Signer is a lecturer at the University of Virginia, where he teaches in the Woodrow Wilson Department of Politics and the Batten School of Leadership and Public Policy; Managing Principal of Madison Law & Strategy Group, PLLC, where he practices corporate and regulatory law; and Mayor of Charlottesville, Virginia, a triple-A bond rated city of nearly 50,000 frequently rated as one of America’s best places to live. He holds a Ph.D. in political science from U.C., Berkeley, where he was a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow; a J.D. from the University of Virginia School of Law; and a B.A. in politics, magna cum laude, from Princeton University. He previously served as counsel to Governor Mark Warner of Virginia, as chief national security advisor to the 2008 John Edwards for President campaign, and as senior policy advisor at the Center for American Progress. He was a 2009 candidate for lieutenant governor of Virginia. His writing has appeared in The Atlantic, The Washington Post, The New Republic, and USA Today. He has appeared on MSNBC, Fox News, the BBC, and NPR. He lives with his wife and twin boys in Charlottesville, Virginia.
- “Donald Trump Responds to Orlando Attack by Exploiting Fear, Not Easing It,” New York Times (interview)
- “Can We Still Stop a Demagogue?” On the Media, WNYC (Interviewer: Bob Garfield)
- “A Definitive Guide to Donald Trump’s Use of Group Suspicion,” Janell Ross, The Washington Post
- “Here’s What Demagogues Like Trump Do To Their Countries When They Take Power,” The Washington Post
- Michael Signer, “Here’s What Demagogues Like Trump Do to Their Countries When They Take Power,” The Washington Post
- Michael Signer, “Donald Trump Wasn’t a Textbook Demagogue. Until Now.” The Washington Post
- Michael Signer, “Trump and the Dangers of Passionate Politics,” The Atlantic
- Michael Signer, “It’s the Complexity, Stupid!” Salon
- Michael Signer, “Honor Our Flawed Founding Fathers,” New York Daily News
- Michael Signer, “The Case for Finally Building a Memorial to James Madison,” Yahoo News
- “A Conversation with Michael Signer: The Making of an Indispensable Founding Father,” Richmond Times-Dispatch
- Michael Signer, “What Religious Freedom Proponents Don’t Understand about the Constitution,” Salon
- Michael Signer, “Ted Cruz and Our Cynical ‘Walking Dead’ Politics,” Salon
- Michael Signer, “Madison’s Method: Confronting Political Extremism through Debate Itself,” Richmond Times-Dispatch
- Michael Signer, “Nothing Was Banal about Eichmann’s Evil, Says a Scathing New Biography,” The Daily Beast
- Michael Signer, “Why the Tea Party Won’t Go Away and More Wisdom from Matt Kibbe,” The Daily Beast
- Michael Signer, “Popularity Contest: A Review of Where They Stand by Robert W. Merry,” The New Republic
- Michael Signer, “A City on a Hill,” Democracy: A Journal of Ideas
- Michael Signer, “Democrats: Show More Spine,” USA Today.
- Michael Signer, “Get Real: The Candidates Are What We Want Them to Be, After All,”Washington Post, Sunday Outlook Section (cover, above the fold).
News & Events
- “Meeting the Real James Madison,” WVTF/Radio IQ, National Public Radio
- “A Man of Many Hats,” WMRA, National Public Radio
- “How Trump Beat the GOP and the Media,” To the Point, (interviewer: Warren Olney), National Public Radio
- “Democratic Activist Says Trump Fits Demagogue Mold,” Morning Edition (interviewer: David Greene), National Public Radio
- “So You’ve Got a Demagogue,” On the Media (interviewer: Brooke Gladstone), WNYC
- “City Council Candidate Pushes for Monument to Madison,” NBC 29
- Michael Signer at Flyleaf Books, Chapel Hill
- C-SPAN Book TV covers Becoming Madison
- Michael Signer talks Madison on MSNBC’s The Cycle.
- Michael Signer at Roosevelt Institute of Public Policy“
- Leadership in Troubled Times,” Michael Signer, Madison Vision Series Lecture (video), James Madison University
- “Keynote Speech by Michael Signer at James Madison’s 263rd Birthday Celebration,” James Madison’s Montpelier.
- Video of Keynote Speech at Madison Birthday Celebration, 2014