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Publisher's Summary

A vivid account of leadership focusing on the first four Virginia presidents - George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe - from the best-selling historian and author of James Madison.

From a small expanse of land on the North American continent came four of the nation's first five presidents - a geographic dynasty whose members led a revolution, created a nation, and ultimately changed the world. George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe were born, grew to manhood, and made their homes within a 60-mile circle east of the Blue Ridge Mountains. Friends and rivals, they led in securing independence, hammering out the United States Constitution, and building a working republic. Acting together, they doubled the territory of the United States. From their disputes came American political parties and the weaponizing of newspapers, the media of the day. In this elegantly conceived and insightful new audiobook from best-selling author Lynne Cheney, the four Virginians are not marble icons, but vital figures deeply intent on building a nation where citizens could be free. 

Focusing on the intersecting roles these men played as warriors, intellectuals, and statesmen, Cheney takes us back to an exhilarating time when the Enlightenment opened new vistas for humankind. But even as the Virginians advanced liberty, equality, and human possibility, they held people in slavery and were slaveholders when they died. Lives built on slavery were incompatible with a free and just society; their actions contradicted the very ideals they espoused. They managed nonetheless to pass down those ideals, and they became powerful weapons for ending slavery. They inspired Abraham Lincoln and Frederick Douglass and today undergird the freest nation on earth. 

Taking full measure of strengths and failures in the personal as well as the political lives of the men at the center of this audiobook, Cheney offers a concise and original exploration of how the United States came to be.

©2020 Lynne Cheney (P)2020 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"Bringing these men together as a group draws attention to how their thought and action unfolded in response to new challenges and dispels any illusion that they were a monolithic bloc. Cheney is an adept writer who makes no wrong steps.” (Library Journal)

"An accessible group portrait of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, and James Monroe ... Cheney selects anecdotes wisely and writes gracefully. The result is an informative introduction to four of America’s most important founding fathers." (Publishers Weekly)

"Debates over power and justice are as old - even older, really - than the Republic, and Lynne Cheney has given us a thoughtful and illuminating account of how a group of distinctive Americans, all Virginians, confronted essential questions at the beginning of our common journey.” (Jon Meacham, author of The Soul of America)

What listeners say about The Virginia Dynasty

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  • Randy Young
  • 09-01-2021

History - Beyond the K thru 12 Details

What a great story of the “teal” founding fathers from Virginia. They dealt with success and failure just like the rest of us even though their legacy on the nation and world has been way above average!!!

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  • Jean
  • 19-11-2020

Captivating

A few years ago, I read Lynne Cheney’s book “James Madison: A Life Reconsidered” and was impressed by Cheney’s writing skills. Therefore, I jumped to get her new book “The Virginia Dynasty”.

The book is well written and researched. The book is not an academic history book. Cheney’s doctorate degree is in British Literature, not history. That is probably why she picked up on little-known information about Jefferson’s fascination with words and cadence. The book provides an overview of four men: Washington, Jefferson, Madison and Monroe along with some little-known facts about each man. Cheney is a master storyteller so the book reads more like fiction than non-fiction. If you are interested in the early days of our government, you will enjoy this book.

The book is ten hours and forty minutes. Nan McNamara does an excellent job narrating the book. McNamara is an actress, voice artist and has won the Earphone Award and was Best Narrator of audiobook for 2016.

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  • Wayne McAllister
  • 13-11-2020

A Most Worthwhile Listening

Having grown up a Virginian, I thoroughly enjoyed Ms Cheney's encapsulating the history of my Commonwealth's most famous men. I found her retelling of the 1801 election most enjoyable and Madison's challenges brought on by his 1812 endeavor very illuminating.

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  • patti
  • 29-10-2020

Great Play by Play of the FFs.

History nuts, play this book while painting your garage and it will go by like a cool breeze.

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  • Kindle Customer
  • 26-10-2020

Madison is the star here.

Lynne Cheney has access to papers, libraries, and researchers which should have resulted in a coherent story. Parts of the book were confusing, due to the fragmented and incomplete explanations. The author minimized Washington and Jefferson as Democracy start ups and ignored the racism and genocide forced on Indeginious People. for whatever reason, Hamilton appeared Borderline in this story. There was respect or honor for the men and Women who sacrificed very thing so her husband could live with a heart transplant. Cheney could have shoveled Hamiltonian ideology on Fox News.

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  • Kenneth
  • 28-03-2021

Absolutely loved it

This book was enjoyable very informative. Excellent 2 thumbs up. The narrator was not dragging the read. I love history and I love to hear things that you weren’t taught in any school history book. Will definitely be getting more from this author👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼👍🏼

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  • DM
  • 05-03-2021

Way cool History. Virgina has a claim to fame

The accomplishments, exploits, dedication, and sacrifices these men gave to the founding of our country cannot and should not be forgotten. We need more men like this. Not perfect by any means, but given what we know happened in the French and other revolutions around the world, it is nothing short of a miracle none of these men became violent dictators bent on the destruction of others and the country. Great men!

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  • Evan
  • 23-11-2020

Evan's Review

Very good book. Lynn does the of comparing the first 4 out of 5 Presidents. I thought when I started the book I won't learn much from what I have read and studied over the years. One of the big points is how Jefferson, Madison, and Monroe did alot of back stabbing of George Washington. I knew about Jefferson but Madison, and Monroe I didn't.. Over the years I have really got discussed with Jefferson because he really was an ideologue until he got elected President.

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