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Decision in Philadelphia: The Constitutional Convention of 1787 Mass Market Paperback – May 12, 1987

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Product Details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 448 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books; English Language edition (May 12, 1987)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345346521
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345346520
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.2 x 6.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,616,492 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

The advent of the bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution in 1987 calls for a new treatment of the Philadelphia Con vention, one which is written for the general public and informed by recent scholarship. Decision in Philadelphia is just such a book. It is the best popular history of the Constitutional Conven tion available. This clear and well-writ ten volume traces the major issues in volved, dismissing sectional, economic, or class interests as domi nant factors and concentrating instead on the "deeply rooted attitudes" and "emotions" of individual members. Modern readers will find the authors' comments on the Constitution particu larly interesting, casting many of the Founding Fathers in a new light. Highly recommended for public and academic libraries. Roy H. Tryon, Delaware State Archives, Dover
Copyright 1986 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Publisher

After seeing the musical 1776, I was entertainingly educated about the drafting of the Declaration of Independence. I saw much humor in our Founding Fathers' quirks, and was intrigued by their relationships to one another. I picked up DECISION IN PHILADELPHIA and was captivated once again, this time by the 55 men who came together to write the document that helped shaped our newly independent nation. The battles that were waged and the compromises that were made during the Constitutional Convention are captivatingly retold in this robust book, which also contains a complete copy of the Constitution.
--Stacey Witcraft, Advertising Manager

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Customer Reviews

All in all, the book was a very quick, informative, and entertaining read.
Howard Schulman
As a person who is facinated by the U.S. Constitution, I highly recommend this book to anyone who is in the early stages of learning about it.
Ryan O. Hemminger
I read a similar book, "The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution" by David O. Stewart in 2008.
The Spinozanator

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

37 of 40 people found the following review helpful By Robert James on July 25, 2000
Format: Mass Market Paperback
The Collier brothers are an amazing act. Authors of the classic children's novel, "My Brother Sam is Dead," they also carry on careers individually as a history professor and writer on jazz respectively. "Decision in Philadelphia" is the story of the Constitutional Convention from start to finish. Told with novel-like drama and narrative flow, this is the first choice for any general reader who wants to know more about the issues driving our country's second national government (the first, the Articles of Confederation, had failed miserably). Very readable, and very interesting, "Decision in Philadelphia" is a book I have my own AP US History students read for its depth of knowledge and ease of reading (although I wouldn't recommend it for anybody lower than high school, unless exceptionally precocious and obsessed with history). All in all, one of the great popular histories available on any subject.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Howard Schulman on March 4, 2006
Format: Mass Market Paperback
I enjoyed reading this book. In it, the authors explain what happened at the 1787 Constitutional Convention. Most enthusiasts of the period know about Madison and Hamilton and that the Convention was convened to write a new Constitution, but what many don't know is that there were many characters besides Madison and Hamilton that attended and held sway. And in bringing to light these other characters the book shines.

There are individual chapters on Charles Pinckney, Roger Sherman, William Paterson, Luther Martin, James Wilson, Elbridge Gerry, George Mason, and more. The chapters are written in a lively manner without getting bogged down in details. Collier and Collier give you the "flavor" and most important aspects of each of these characters. There was a lot of "juice". The reading never got dull.

There were also many issues that I was totally unaware of, such as the alliance of several southern states with the "big" states, as well as Connecticut's frequent alliance with the southern states. I was surprised that the issue of slavery, 80 years before the Civil War, played such a central role at the Convention. I enjoyed learning how each of the colonies fared during the period of the Articles of Confederation and how this affected their bargaining positions. It was fascinating to learn about the process itself, the vote counting among the representatives, and the pure politics that went on during the Convention.

All in all, the book was a very quick, informative, and entertaining read. It also fills a gap, as there is not much in the "popular" press written about the Convention. The book is appropriate for those who have already done some reading on early American history as well as those who take a passing interest.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 10, 2002
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book tells the story of the Constitutional Convention in Philadelphia which resulted in the writing of the U.S. Constitution. It starts by describing the dissatisfaction that some states had with the Articles of Confederation. Then, it goes through the issues important to the framers one at a time, describing the conflicts involved and how they were resolved.
Two issues are discussed at some length. First, the authors detail the battle over proportional representation versus equal representation for the states in the (new) Congress, which pitted the smaller states against an alliance between the biggest states and the Deep South states. Next, they discuss all the issues regarding slavery. The last several chapters of the book describe the ideas and compromises about how the government functions -- the role of the president, the method of choosing the president, the presence of a bill of rights, etc...
The book was well written and in most parts a joy to read. It left me wanting to read biographies of several of the men involved in creating the Constitution.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Burgmicester VINE VOICE on July 25, 2009
Format: Paperback
Christopher and James Collier started very strongly in this telling of the Constitutional Convention. The book tends to bog down in the middle, particularly on the slave issues and then finishes better (until the last chapter that is mainly an editorial). The Colliers took a different approach writing this book - they decided to write about each different major issue as a separate topic and then follow that topic chronologically through to its conclusion. I'm not sure why they took that approach, but my guess that it made it easier for two individuals to write up their separate pieces and then put it back together again. However, for the reader, it is not the best approach. It causes repetition, confusion as to the timeline, it affects the rhythm of the story, kluges together the biographies of the main players and slows down the pace.

Other dislikes are the bibliography and the often thrown in opinions. Because the bibliography is sloppy and not very well documented, it is difficult to know when facts are being presented or opinions. I'm okay with historians giving me their read on the situation, but it is nice to know when that is occurring. Since most of the book is secondary references, the sloppiness is not acceptable. The authors stated that they used Madison's "Notes", but they are not documented in a way to show when they are used versus when a secondary reference is being used.

I did enjoy the quick biographies of many of the players, George Mason, Elbridge Gerry, James Wilson, William Paterson, Roger Sherman, Charles Pinckney, and James Madison - many of which I had very little previous knowledge. Although the manor in which the biographies were brought into the story caused me to confuse some of them by the end.
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