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on June 14, 2011
No matter what you think of his politics, you have to admire Glenn Beck's willingness to explore territory that other pundits (on the right and left) have shrugged off or ignored. The Federalist Papers fall into that category. Often regarded as archaic and irrelevant, the `Original Argument' for a Constitution and federal government has often been overlooked by modern theorists. Glenn Beck does a fine job of resurrecting them, and breathing life into them once again.

So, why are they so important, and what is the original argument any way? As Beck states in the introduction, "What the Federalist Papers offer to us today is a guide to understanding the Founders' core constitutional principles, the theories behind their words, the why, the where and how of the foundation of America." Beck clearly esteems the Founding Fathers, and finds the Federalist Papers to be of their core work.

What I find most interesting is the even-handedness Beck levies. The Federalists are known to have been pro-federal government, which in today's climate is allied with Democrats and modern liberals and against Republicans and conservatives. For instance, much of Hamilton's rhetoric is used today in defense of widespread government intervention, especially with regard to fiscal and monetary policy.

But rather than denouncing the Federalists as monarchists or totalitarians, as some on the political right might be inclined to do, Beck is willing to honestly examine their work and analyze it in its context. What the reader finds is that, though some Federalist concepts certainly were statist in their effect, the core ideas are arguably the core ideas of the political right--minimum government and maximum freedom. To be sure, the concept of `Federalism' isn't just about the federal government--a balance of power achieved by individualized states is also implicit in the concept.

Though this book's focus is narrow and won't stand on its own like Wood's Radicalism of the American Revolution or Morse's Juggernaut: Why the System Crushes the Only People Who Can Save It, Beck's treatment of the Federalists is one of the best out there, and can be appreciated by anyone interested in the history of American politics, on the right or the left.
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on June 21, 2011
What makes America truly exceptional?

Few understand that America's Constitution was created during a time of relative peace, and through the thoughtful deliberation of men dedicated to the establishment of a Republic that would provide security and liberty for its citizens. This itself is rather unique in history.

Having met for the purpose of revising the Articles of Confederation (the original document that bound the 13 colonies / states together during and after the successful Revolution, these patriots soon agreed that an entire NEW document was needed to establish our democratic republic. After laboring through a long, hot summer in Philadelphia, they produced the Constitution of the United States of America as a complete replacement for the Articles of Confederation.

Provisions in the Constitution required ratification by the states. While a majority of states quickly ratified the document, the State of New York suffered political factions strongly opposed to this document, making ratification by New York very much in doubt.

Under the pen name of "Publius," John Jay, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison wrote a series of short essays addressing the arguments against the adoption of the new Constitution and their rationale in its favor. These essays were published in a number of New York newspapers and other publications, and are commonly known as "The Federalist Papers," or simply, "The Federalist."

Where the original documents are written in the convoluted, difficult to understand 18th century English, these (arguably the most important) essays have been "translated" into modern day American English, and are thus easy to read and understand.

I believe that a reading of these essays is essential to the understanding of the original intent and purpose of the system of government contained in our Constitution. I also believe that after reading these essays, that average American will question the wisdom of many of the amendments to the Constitution, as well as a number of important Supreme Court decisions.

If it were in my power, I would require that one entire semester in high school would be spent on studying the three, founding documents; The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution and the Federalist.

This book would be an excellent textbook for this course.

I have read other "Translations" of the Federalist, and can attest to the fact that this book closely parallels the other interpretations, is laid out in a more logical sequence, and includes principles and guides to thinking that are extremely useful to the application of this book to today's issues.

I highly recommend it.... and, again, if I had the power, would require the study of this book as a prerequisite to voting in any election.

 The Original Argument: The Federalists' Case for the Constitution, Adapted for the 21st Century
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VINE VOICEon June 15, 2011
Glenn Beck, has a unique ability to simplify things and deliver a message that spark thought and action. If I had to sum up the gift and calling that Glenn has exhibited in his career, I would say, Glenn has a love for traditions and principals and a desire to deliver these treasures to the nation in the language and thought process of today.

You may have read the Federalist Papers in the past, but this book will shed new light and greater understanding. The book provides clarification of the founding fathers original intent, and will open your eyes to how far our current government has strayed from its constitutional boundaries.

I highly recommend the book.

James Garton
Author of The U.S. Constitution For Christians
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on December 6, 2012
A very good book for understanding the Federalist papers. Glenn has provided some a very interesting read, one that shows exactly how the authors of the federalist papers were attempting to convince the citizens to ratify the Constitution.
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on February 14, 2012
The original federalist papers are nearly lost in evolving language. The original writer's word usage, phraseology and general grammar are less clear in many instances than that of other founding documents. These can ramble. In the 21st century, they must be `translated/interpreted' for the reader like an ancient text.

Step back from the hyperbole and consider the originals in their text:
1. The language is obtuse in the 21st century. Language evolves rapidly in every dimension over 250 years. Language changes in significant ways between generations.

2. Webster's dictionary attempted to codify American English only in 1828. Webster's 'A Compendious Dictionary of the English Language', appeared in 1806 in the earliest attempt to standardize spelling. What % of the 21st century public would even know what a "Compendious" might be? None of Webster's effort to normalize English was in operation when the papers were written.

3. The federalist papers were written under pseudonyms in a rancorous political environment and attempted to elucidate high political, nearly utopian concept as free of politics as might be rendered from 1787-1788. There was limited, regional, common agreement on critical language terms among the 13 independent states, North to South and trust was lacking and overcompensated with abundant words. The various papers objectives was to establish an anonymous source structure to pull the wholly divergent southern and northern colonies into cohesion. The 85 papers were unbounded by linguistic convention and with words that often have diametric definitional usage in the 21st century.

4. 13 colonies, 13 micro-economies, 13 divergent global and domestic `customers', the whole of the 13 was driven by the imagined lucrative economics of the slave south and the embryonic manufacturing north. The North wasn't contributing economically on a southern scale, 13 colonies were each long anchored to specific British colonial ends for economic, religious, ethnic, and lordly landholder purposes. There simply was little other than `Western Hemisphere' and `mostly ex-British' to knit the 13 together. The Brits saw no unification profit, kept the colonies politically apart using 13 colonial governors to supervise royal profits as direct reports to the king.

5. There seems a better argument that 2, maybe 4 countries should emerge from out the 13. There's really no good reason that 13 new countries didn't emerge to be a European-like geography.

6. Tiny seaboard locked DE signed on to the constitution (30-0). NY barely joined by 3 votes and RI by 2 votes and MA by only 5%. It turned out that the North might have preferred a country without the South which meant 2 countries at least. The curious story behind the story is that in the 21st century lingo, it was raw racism. NY, MA & RI could not stand the partial slave headcount ... they wanted slaves to be non-people fearing the higher Southern populations would control the Fed even with the fractional-person compromise.

I've read all 85, or at last attempted to read all 85 several times before. They are obscure linguistic tomes to be honest and frustratingly difficult or even irrelevant in modern context.

I've tried (over 30 some years):

1. A straight numeric read - it presents iffy relevance from time and place soirees into irrelevance. Don't waste your time reading 1 thru 85. You'll die from boredom with the 5000 piece puzzle.
2. A reading by attributed author provides a peek at the author's worldview. But, that's not the whole of the `Papers'.
3. I rather reject that all 85 are material and worthy of the time to fumble through them. For at least 12, extrapolating the tenet beyond an insular rural, slave, Indian country is not all that creative and consigns the status quo in perpetuity. I can't draw a mental image of what was desired in some. You have to deep dive other history to understand the picayune issues.

Whoever ghost wrote this book for Beck did a good job assigning 7 superordinate arguments to the total:

1. The opportunity to create a wholly new order of consensual governance
2. Individual necessity to compromise
3. A `Republic' as difficult to retain as any form of governance ever undertaken in history
4. Balance of power
5. Minimum Federal, Maximum State rights (consistent with the desires of the majority of free colonies to compromise in a single agreement). Argue for why any Fed at all.
6. Taxation with representation
7. Strikingly, there are only 2 papers stridently `truth, justice and American way'.

In comparison to my previous attempts to `translate' the old Federalists, Beck's presentation makes cohesive sense.

The counter arguments from some reviewers here is `read them all' is a sort of a penury argument. The books writings are too obscure to the modern vernacular. Or, claims that this `book is bogus' cannot be forwarded without a rationale anchored in academic nuance of the papers in time and place. The general notion of significant states-rights and mini-fed is overwhelmingly obvious as the only solution that could result in the unanimous consent required for the US Constitution.

Maybe 50% of the Federalist papers are dead end ideas but they were written. Maybe 50% are good/interesting reading for the roots of that which was incorporated in the Constitution.

For this reader, this books attempt to render 'meaning' out of 'obscurity' is pretty dang good. If one considers in the last 100 years that out of 500,000 applications to the SCOTUS, we have 10,000 opinions of which <300 ref the Federalists (and that's since 1798), it's a .1% event that brings them to factor in modern constitutional law.
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on October 31, 2015
Excellent book that takes the Federalists Papers and explains them. The idea of America was based on the information contained in these papers.
It is important that we understand how our county began so we can repair the damage to our Constitution and put America back on the correct path to freedom.
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on October 3, 2011
I bought this because my daugther has to read the Federalist Papers for school and I recently had read through many of them myself and struggled with the language. After reading through the first few chapters, I was glad to see how easy it was to understand.
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on January 6, 2014
The founding fathers spoke an English somewhat different than that which we use today. Most of us won't take the time to research just what they meant when they used a word not now in common usage. Beck has done the work for us in this book. Makes the Federalists Papers understandable. Just for your own satisfaction, have the originals at hand so that you can make the transition for yourself as you go on.
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on January 7, 2015
Many people say "That's not what the founding fathers meant" when referring to the Constitution. The Federalist Papers is the black and white instruction manual of the workings of the Constitution. This has been the most enlightening book on American history and the Constitution. This should be required reading for all American citizens. Thank you Glen Beck for printing the truth of how the American Government should be run!
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on February 12, 2012
The Original Argument by Glenn Beck kept my occupied from Feb 3 until Feb 11 2012. This book is an abridged version of the Federalist Papers - however it is edited into modern language. There are 33 of the 85 papers published by Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison to make the case for a strong federal government.

It is amazing to see how much the original intent of Government has changed from the founding fathers. The founders specifically wanted and debated for a republic - not a democracy. I was surprised by two things that I had never known - First, that James Madison did not want the bill of rights included, and Second -that the three writers thought that the States would be able to hold their own against a power grab by the federal government. In addition, the intricacies of the American foundation of government were drawn upon logic, history, and interestingly enough by Madison's admission - God's hand.

Overall, the book is good and gave me the insight into the diatribe between those who wanted a federal government and those who opposed. I would argue that "Publius" was actively trying to find the balance of government and ultimately asking - can man rule himself?

Another thing is that I absolutely think that James Madison's writing is dry and dull. Conversely Alexander Hamilton is great - he would be one person who I would like to meet in history - I especially loved his argument set forth in paper #11.

I will take away an even deeper love for America and its founding fathers.

Points

The founders valued personal liberty

They knew that human failings would desire more power - so they devised a system of checks and balances

Paper #11 - Alexander Hamilton's argument for a federal navy. He suggests unity, need to teach the pompous Europeans a lesson and kick their rears!

Paper #85 - Hamilton suggests to use logic toward reason and good sense - no name calling and take the higher road when debating

Paper #51 - Madison "Justice is the goal of government."

Paper #57 - Each person wants to be honored, favored, and respected.

Factions - because people are diverse, each group wants to favor their ideas and views. Within a free society - this is valued.

Paper #36 - Hamilton "There are strong minds in every walk of life who can rise above the disadvantages of their situation, and whose reputation can command the respect of those not only from their class, but from society in general. The door of elected office should be open to all..."

Just my thoughts
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