America’s Constitution: A Biography

America's Constitution: A Biography Author Akhil Reed Amar
ISBN-10 0812972724
ISBN-13 9780812972726
Year 2010-08-18
Pages 672
Language English
Publisher Random House
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In Americas Constitution one of this eras most accomplished constitutional law scholars Akhil Reed Amar gives the first comprehensive account of one of the worlds great political texts Incisive entertaining and occasionally controversial this biography of Americas framing document explains not only what the Constitution says but also why the Constitution says it We all know this much the Constitution is neither immutable nor perfect Amar shows us how the story of this one relatively compact document reflects the story of America more generally For example much of the Constitution including the glorious sounding We the People was lifted from existing American legal texts including early state constitutions In short the Constitution was as much a product of its environment as it was a product of its individual creators inspired genius Despite the Constitutions flaws its role in guiding our republic has been nothing short of amazing Skillfully placing the document in the context of late eighteenth century American politics Americas Constitution explains for instance whether there is anything in the Constitution that is unamendable the reason America adopted an electoral college why a president must be at least thirty five years old and whyfor now at leastonly those citizens who were born under the American flag can become president From his unique perspective Amar also gives us unconventional wisdom about the Constitution and its significance throughout the nations history For one thing we see that the Constitution has been far more democratic than is conventionally understood Even though the document was drafted by white landholders a remarkably large number of citizens by the standards of 1787 were allowed to vote up or down on it and the documents later amendments eventually extended the vote to virtually all Americans We also learn that the Founders Constitution was far more slavocratic than many would acknowledge the three fifths clause gave the South extra political clout for every slave it owned or acquired As a result slaveholding Virginians held the presidency all but four of the Republics first thirty six years and proslavery forces eventually came to dominate much of the federal government prior to Lincolns election Ambitious even handed eminently accessible and often surprising Americas Constitution is an indispensable work bound to become a standard reference for any student of history and all citizens of the United States From the Hardcover edition

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