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The Penguin Guide to the United States Constitution: A Fully Annotated Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Amendments, and Selections from The Federalist Papers Paperback


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The Penguin Guide to the United States Constitution: A Fully Annotated Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Amendments, and Selections from The Federalist Papers + The Portable Abraham Lincoln (Penguin Classics) + Common Sense
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; annotated edition edition (August 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143118102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143118107
  • Product Dimensions: 7.4 x 4.4 x 0.6 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #70,972 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

4.9 out of 5 stars
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See all 15 customer reviews
Great annotated reference source.
Rick Nelson
I can't remember when, or even if, I read through the Constitution before.
D. Vandervalk
The book is clear, well written, and to the point.
arpard fazakas

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

47 of 49 people found the following review helpful By D. Vandervalk on May 7, 2011
Format: Paperback
I can't remember when, or even if, I read through the Constitution before. Whatever the case, I knew I had to read it now and get to know it.

After several false starts on other versions (a downloaded copy, an iPod app, the appendix of a book on politics), I have finally read it through with actual pleasure using this book. The secret is getting the text in short bursts, with the author breaking in to explain it section by section. It really helps to learn the "why" at the same time as learning the "what." I could digest it in small bites, and really understand what I was reading, so I didn't need to re-read things over and over which I have a tendency to do if I don't grasp the concept.

This book is short but packed with good material. It includes the Declaration of Independence (also broken into sections and explained), a sampling of the Federalist Papers, a few brief chapters on the history of what happened before, during, and after the writing of the Constitution, and a section on important Supreme Court decisions and how they tie in to the Constitution. I feel like I took a quick refresher course in Political Science after reading this through.

A couple of the author's opinions slip in here and there, and he seems to lean a wee bit to the left, but it's nothing you haven't already heard from your schoolteachers. There's nothing in here that should prevent anyone with any particular ideology from using this book to gain plenty of straightforward knowledge about the origins of our country. I would like to add that the publishing quality is superb - the paper is the very white, acid-free kind that will last long on your bookshelf, which was wise to use in the kind of book that will be useful to refer to repeatedly over the years.
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24 of 25 people found the following review helpful By arpard fazakas on April 11, 2011
Format: Paperback
This book is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand our Constitution and the various contemporary controversies regarding its interpretation. It consists of annotated texts of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, followed by slightly abridged versions of three of the most insightful Federalist Papers, followed by a concise history of the genesis, ratification, and early implementation of the Constitution. The author is a recognized expert on the history of the United States and the Constitution. The book is clear, well written, and to the point. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in political theory, government, the history of the United States, and constitutional law.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By J. R. Trtek TOP 1000 REVIEWER on November 11, 2012
Format: Paperback
For a quick and readable guide to the U.S. Constitution, in theory and practice, it's hard to beat this little volume by Richard Beeman. A treatment of the Declaration of Independence and excerpts from The Federalist Papers help lay the groundwork, and the text is straighforward. A couple of people have noted concerns about Beeman being "leftist" or "statist," and in fairness I wouldn't particularly dispute that observation. But being a pronounced liberal myself, that presumed inclination of Beeman doesn't disturb me in the least. Your politics might be different, of course, and perhaps here and there a few remarks in the book might rub you the wrong way, I suppose. That still doesn't deny the informative value of this this text.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By C. Chae Williams on January 3, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My Dad, for whom this was a gift, really enjoys this book! He's stated it's easy to understand and loves the history!
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ms.Bane on November 30, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Our central library was having professors from our local university give a talk on the constitution and this book was on the reading list. Since it was recommended by people who teach the subject in college, I thought it would be a good book to have on my bookshelf and I don't think you'd be disappointed to have a copy in your bookcase.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By gloine36 on July 6, 2013
Format: Paperback
Anyone in need of an annotated, compact book covering the US Constitution and Declaration of Independence should consider picking up this book. Written by Dr. Richard Beeman, Professor of History at the University of Pennsylvania and trustee of the National Constitution Center, this slim book contains the Declarations of Independence, the Constitution, all twenty-seven amendments, selections from The Federalist, and short chapters covering how these documents came to be as well as some discussion on prominent Supreme Court cases. The result is a very effective presentation concerning these documents. Beeman does so in a refreshingly non-partisan way, relying on his professional experience and knowledge in teaching this subject for more than thirty years.
The advantages of reading an annotated version of many historical documents are that they are broken into components where each section is commented on. This allows the reader to explore that particular section before advancing to another one and forgetting what they've read to that point. Students will find that this system of reading results in an increased understanding of the content. Those needing quick answers will be able to not only find the exact passage they want, but a quick glance through Beeman's comments will refresh their memory on what they have learned about the passage as well. The books suits both students and teachers well as both can utilize the book easily for quick reference at any point.
Beeman also added a section on US history regarding the creation of the documents which about a hundred pages. The advantage of this short brief history is to capture the essentials of the subject and get them onto paper.
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