A New York Times Notable Book of 1996
It was in tolling the death of Chief Justice John Marshall in 1835 that the Liberty Bell cracked, never to ring again. An apt symbol of the man who shaped both court and country, whose life “reads like an early history of the United States,” as the Wall Street Journal noted, adding: Jean Edward Smith “does an excellent job of recounting the details of Marshall’s life without missing the dramatic sweep of the history it encompassed.”
Working from primary sources, Jean Edward Smith has drawn an elegant portrait of a remarkable man. Lawyer, jurist, scholars; soldier, comrade, friend; and, most especially, lover of fine Madeira, good food, and animated table talk: the Marshall who emerges from these pages is noteworthy for his very human qualities as for his piercing intellect, and, perhaps most extraordinary, for his talents as a leader of men and a molder of consensus. A man of many parts, a true son of the Enlightenment, John Marshall did much for his country, and John Marshall: Definer of a Nation demonstrates this on every page.