John Marshall: Definer of a Nation was written by Jean Edward Smith and published in 1996 by Henry Holt and Company. John Marshall possessed one of the brightest legal minds in American history. His legacy has inspired countless books that have, for the most part, discussed the impact of his work. This book differentiates itself because it is one of the first to attempt to provide a full-scale and scholarly biography of the man behind the work. Of course, Smith does spend time discussing Marshall's judicial career. However, he also spends time exploring who Marshall was as a husband, father, colleague, and citizen.
Your assignment asks you to focus on the theme or purpose of the author in writing this book. When deciding how you want to accomplish this, keep in mind that Smith wrote a book that goes beyond Marshall's work. Her focus on who he was as a person should tell you something about her purpose for writing the book. It seems that she was hoping to paint an accurate picture of the man in his totality.
You're also asked to describe the bias that the author had regarding the subject matter of the book and whether that impacted the book's quality. This book isn't an argument for or against something. If it was, it might be easier to assess whether the author was biased in some way while writing it. Rather, as stated above, Smith's main goal for writing the book was to show us who John Marshall really was. To answer this question, as you read, spend time considering which stories about Marshall the author chooses to share. Are all of them positive? Or does she do a good job of sharing the good and the bad? This might help you answer whether she wrote the book hoping to make Marshall look good or if she focused on showing the truth of who he was.
This should be plenty to get you started. Good luck!