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VINE VOICEon April 16, 2006
The new edition of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS edited by Clinton Rossiter and co. is probably the best paperback edition. Rossiter and Charles Kesler did a good job in presenting these papers, and their explanations and notes make this book clear for readers. THE FEDERALIST PAPERS alone are an important source of serious political thinking. In an age of almost unbridled political power, corruption, empire buidling, etc. THE FEDERALIST PAPERS are important reminder of what a Free Republic (not an empire) should be.

THE FEDERALIST PAPERS were written by Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804), John Jay (1745-1829), and James Madison (1751-1835). Due to concerns about the New York State legislators ratifying the The U.S. Constitution, these papers were journal pieces written to New York journals and newspapers to convince both the residents and state legislators to ratify The U.S. Constitution. One should note there were other published articles supporting ratification of The U.S. Constitution and other articles can be read in a text titled FRIENDS OF THE CONSTITUTION.

What is alarming about THE FEDERALISTS PAPERS is that they were written for most readers. If one were to write such articles these days, most Americans would not read them nor comprehend them. This is a sad commentary on Americans regarding serious political writing regarding their birthright. If THE FEDERALIST PAPERS were assigned to high school kids, whoever would make such an assignment would be fired or worse.

THE FEDERALIST PAPERS give important explanations of the separation of powers, limits of each branch of the central government (The Federal Government), and how political power should be used within severe limitations. These articles were a brilliant attempt to mitigate fears that The U.S. Constitution would give far too much power to the the central or federal government.

The late Clinton Rossiter had a useful suggestion for those who did not want to read all 85 of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS. He suggested that the best numbers were 1,2,6,9,10, 14, 15, 16,23, 37, 39,47, 49, 51, 62, 70, 78, 84, and 85. Those readers who read these numbered papers would probably want to read the remainder.

This newer paperback edition of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS has some valuable features to help the reader navigate complex political thinking. The U.S. Constitution is placed in the end of the book with page numbers of the book whereby the authors of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS refer to that section of the U.S. Constitution. This gives clarity as to exactly what the authors were arguing regarding specific sections of the proposed U.S. Constitution. Another important feature of this edition of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS consists of the notes. The men who wrote THE FEDERALIST PAPERS were learned men who had seriously studied history and political thought. The notes explain the examples of Ancient Greek and Roman History used to make some of the arguments. These notes also refer to examples of Renaissance and English History which were also used to make good arguments from historical examples. One could get first rate learning experience of Ancient Greek and Roman History as well as a better view of European Renaissance and English History.

Readers should not forget that the authors of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS were responding to the Anti-Federalists and their articles titled THE ANTI-FEDERALIST PAPERS. Too often the Anti-Federalists are referred to as obstrcutionists and narrow minded men. This is simply not true. The ANTI-FEDERALIST PAPERS were as well written and brilliantly argued as THE FEDERALIST PAPERS.
One should note that one of the major objections of the Anti-Federalists to ratification of The U.S. Constitution was that it did not contain a Bill of Rights. The Federalists took this argument seriously. Basically, one could argue that without the Anti-Federalists, there would have been no Bill of Rights. Ergo, without The Bill of Rights, there would have been no U.S. Constitution. The Anti-Federalists were very important in the ratification of The U.S. Constitution.

Anyone who wants to define who Americans should be should read THE FEDERALIST PAPERS. They should also read THE ANTI-FEDERALIST PAPERS and read clear, informed, and well written political theory from men who could actually think. Most political hacks and too many American citizens are not even vaguely aware of this important political writing. Yet, this political writing is the very best American political thinking in U.S. History. This reviewer highly recommends the Rossiter-Kesler edition of THE FEDERALIST PAPERS and other editions of THE ANTI-FEDERALIST PAPERS.
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on November 18, 2000
and the Mentor Federalist Papers keep getting better. Yes, that's right. They actually managed to improve on it. The great new additions include the Declaration, the Articles, and an excellent new introduction by Charles Kessler. I think the killer feature for new readers will be the notes in the back, which, if you (like me) are shaky in your Greek history (and the finer points of European), do a great job of explaining allusions and references by the Papers. Be sure to use this feature -- there's no indication in the text that a note exists, but you should just look if you're unsure of a historical setting (or something similar), and there probably will be one.
On the minus side, I do miss Rossiter's introduction. It wasn't as good for laying out the plan of the work, but it should have been included (along with Kessler's) for its excellent overview of the contemporary situation and the philosophy behind the papers. Also, I feel that Rossiter's contents were slightly better than Kessler's. And, the page numbers are changed, invalidating older references to them. But all in all it's an improvement, and certainly the Mentor edition is the only one to have. Period. It's the one used by at least some of the Supreme Court Justices, and it retains that single dominating feature, Rossiter's cross-referenced Constitution (and index of ideas).
As for the Papers themselves, of course, they need no review. They are the first and ultimate Constitutional commentary, and fascinating reading besides. As literature they stand out for the exceptional style (all the more remarkable considering the haste in which they were written) and clear thinking, and more than any other book they define how the U.S. _should_ work.
All in all, this is one of the best book bargains on the market, that rare coincidence where best edition meets mass-market paperback. What are you waiting for?
-Stephen
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VINE VOICEon May 13, 2000
This is the best edition of the Federalist Papers. It includes many extras, but especially useful is the text of the US Constitution with cross-references to specific pages of the Federalist Papers referring to that provision. I highly recommend the Federalist Papers generally, and more specifically this edition to anyone wishing to know more about the founding and ratification of the Constitution.
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VINE VOICEon July 10, 2004
The Federalist Papers is probably the most seminal discourse on the U.S. Constitution that has ever been written. While there are occasional inconsistencies and undoubtedly many of the founding fathers that took part in the Constitutional Convention and favored adoption of the Constitution would disagree with some of its contents, it is vital reading if one hopes to understand the original intent of the founders.
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on August 24, 2006
One of the reviewers below challenges the notion that the US was ever a Democracy, however, he (apologies if it's a 'she') is viewing the Federalist Papers from the perspective of modern times, and that is a fallacy in reviewing this work, but fortunately it's an instructive fallacy.

The issue with the Federalist Papers is that although it is the leading arguments for the creation of a more centralized government (to replace the Articles of Confederation which seemed inpractible), not all of these arguments were adopted in the Constitution, and some that were did not survive very long. As a result, you may get the wrong impression that the Federalist Papers=the Constitution. Remember, Hamilton's party, the Federalists, did not survive much longer after the defeat of Adams by Jefferson in the 1800 election. The populism of Jefferson and Madison were the ultimate winners *at the time*.

And my *at the time* comment is important. Nowadays the federal government of the US holds a superior and decisive position in the governing of its people; this has not always been the case. In the early-to-mid 19th century, federal power was severely limited when it came to internal affairs; most of the government was conducted at the local level, with some county and state control thrown in where applicable. So *at the time*, the fact that the Senate had 2 members from each state (and appointed by the state legislature) regardless of population was *not* a measure that was anti-democratic in purpose. Democracy existed because the government was predominantly local and the people were predominantly involved in its affairs.

Thus my contention; now for the suggestion: if your project is strictly to research the creation of the US Constitution, than the Federalist Papers by themselves are fine. If, however, you are more interested in how the Constitution affected American society at that time, I would recommend that you start by reading de Tocqueville's "Democracy in America", and working backwards. The immediate results of the Constitution are best expressed in de Tocqueville (he toured the United States and published his work in Europe within 50 years of the ratification) because its not the causes of the Constitution he is discussing, but its effects. After you have completed Democracy in America, then you'll be able to approach the Federalist (and of course the Anti-Federalist) Papers with the understanding of what worked, what didn't, and maybe what we need to work again for.
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on April 25, 2011
This free Kindle edition of The Federalist (listing James Madison as first author) has a rather significant shortcoming: it has no table of contents. Since one generally reads the essays in The Federalist by topic (e.g. Federalist No. 10, or No. 51), the lack of a navigation tools is a real shortcoming. Fortunately, the free Amazon edition that lists John Jay as the first author does have a navigable table of contents that jumps directly to the desired essay.

The formatting of this (Madison) edition is also a bit odd. In the heading for each essay, rather than using bold font for the number or the topic, the only words appearing in bold is the author's name. That said, if you simply want to read the essays from front to back, this one will do the trick.
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on July 13, 2010
There are different versions of this book available, and somehow Books LLC has managed to get the reviews associated with a better quality imprint associated with their book. BE WARNED. Books LLC is a wing of a company called VDM Publishing which, among other things, specialises in automated scanning in of copyright-free books, they print these cheaply, with no editing, no checking the text, there own website says there may be missing pages and they do no manual checking, there's no table of contents. Etc. The Books LLC version is basically VERY low quality.

Check carefully what you're buying or you may end up with a book that surprises you. If you have been taken in and ended up with one of these books from "Books LLC", Amazon will take Returns within 30 days (check there Returns Policy first....).
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on March 13, 2010
...please boycott Wilder Publications edition,there are many others to choose from. Why? Well,check out the disclaimer Wilder has stuck onto the words of Madison, Hamilton and Jay, thereby earning one star:

"This book is a product of its time and does not reflect the same values as it would if it were written today. Parents might wish to discuss with their children how views on race, gender, sexuality, ethnicity, and interpersonal relations have changed since this book was written before allowing them to read this classic work."

Yup. The Federalist now merits a warning label. The young cannot be trusted not to draw dangerous conclusions from the subversive, dangerous ideas therein, such as limited government, checks and balances, constrained judicial review,dual sovereignty of states and federal government, and deliberative democracy.
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VINE VOICEon May 4, 2000
The Mentor edition (used by Scalia among others) is by far the best edition of the Federalist Papers. It includes substantial amounts of related information, but of primary importance is the entire text of the Constitution with cross references to specific pages of the Federalist Papers on that topic. This is an extremely useful tool to anyone desiring to gain more knowledge about the Constitution and the founders intent, and it is especially useful to anyone taking a Con Law class.
In general the Federalist Papers is a must read for anyone interested in the founding of the US, or desiring to learn how our system of federalism, and separation of powers was intended to work. I recommend reading numbers 10, 49, and 78 first.
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on August 2, 2005
Before the ratification of the Constitution of 1787, three of its Framers, Hamilton, Madison, and Jay, published a series of articles called The Federalist in a New York paper under the pen name of "Publius." These articles are now published as The Federalist Papers. Publius' intent was to defend the proposed Constitution by explaining its overall integrity and the republican government it would establish. Ironically, one of Publius' intents was to defend the Constitution against the argument it was too weak to withstand those who would subvert republicanism in favor of some form of aristocratic domination.

Sadly, not many read this work, despite the fact that it is one of the few documents that define what the founders' intent really was. This omission has not stopped many from espousing their (lack of) knowledge of that intent. The casual reader can be put off by the size of the work, 85 articles, and the seriousness of the articles. This work was intended for serous people. However, one can approach it with a pen and yellow highlighter and LEARN its wisdom or the more casual reader can let the Introduction guide them to the pieces that interest them.

These casual readers will learn The Federalist Papers are divided into two divisions, each with different themes. The first division addresses the issue of a "firm" and "well-constructed" Union as opposed to a lose confederation of states. This division then addresses how the constitution is protected from the founders' anticipated accidental and intentional threats and answers: what the respective purposes of the Union and the Constitution are; what should be done with society's will; the problem of politics; and even the issues of taxes and maintaining an army. All of these together described the function of government as defined by the Constitution.

In the second division, The Federalist Papers move from the basic function of government to the structure of the American government and using that structure to secure society's common good, the people's happiness, and the public good. All this is accomplished using a moderate tone that makes the reader part of the discourse and not the object of a lecture. This is a constitution aimed at the public in many ways.

So at heart, The Federalist Papers is a guide to the Constitution intended for the casual reader, a reader who can pick and chose those elements that are meaningful.
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