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Signing Their Rights Away Hardcover – September 6, 2011

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Signing Their Rights Away + Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence + Lives of the Signers of the Declaration of Independence
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"It's no secret that I love reading history and occasionally a book comes along that provides an unusual insight beyond the standard telling of a given event. Signing Their Rights Away: The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the United States Constitution." --Bookviews

“…this is both educational and entertaining.”—Booklist

“Kiernan and D'Agnese, who also wrote Signing their Lives Away, have provided another volume that should appeal to all political and history buffs.”—McClatchy Newspapers

“This little book is entertaining, easy to read, and above all, informative. It’s a brilliant piece of work and a must-have for any history-buff’s library...”—PoliticusUSA

“An extraordinarily fascinating study of America's lesser-known founding fathers alongside the more well-known ones, Signing Their Rights Away is a welcome and enthusiastically recommended contribution to public and college library shelves.”—Midwest Book Review (Reviewer’s Choice)

“It’s no secret that I love reading history and occasionally a book comes along that provides an unusual insight beyond the standard telling of a given event. Signing Their Rights Away....is a truly fascinating story that puts their achievement in perspective.”—Bookviews

“Kiernan and D’Agnese make both this period and the men who pulled off this incredible achievement exciting and entertaining...This is exceptional historical reporting that is informative, enlightening, and accessible. Anyone with even a remote interest in our rich national history should purchase this highly recommended book...”—Larry Cox, King Features Syndicate

“[The authors]...maintain a refreshing reverence for the Constitution itself. Rather than ask readers to believe that an ‘assembly of demigods’ (Jefferson's words) wrote the Constitution, Ms. Kiernan and Mr. D’Agnese challenge the notion that the group that crafted this document of enduring genius was uniquely brilliant or visionary. If this raises the question of how exactly the miracle was accomplished, it should at least give readers some hope for our own seemingly uninspired political era.” —The Wall Street Journal

“...entertainingly written...”—School Library Journal, starred review

About the Author

Denise Kiernan and Joseph D'Agnese are the authors of Signing Their Lives Away: The Fame & Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the Declaration of Independence. They have been published in The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice, Saveur, Reader’s Digest, Discover, and other national publications. D’Agnese’s work has twice been included in the anthology “Best American Science Writing.” Both are winners of Educational Press Association awards. They live in North Carolina. Visit them online at signingtheirlivesaway.com.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Quirk Books; First Edition edition (September 6, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 159474520X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594745201
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 1.1 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #493,758 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Opa Wayne VINE VOICE on August 5, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Signing Their Rights Away reviews the lives of many of the signers of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution of the United States. This is a fine glimpse at our founding fathers.

Kiernan and D'Agnese write in a pleasant colorful style that reads easy and occasionally delights. The authors clearly illustrate that the Founding Fathers of the United States were normal human men of their time.

Among the founding fathers were two who died in duels, one who was ruined by drink, and another who became a fugitive. Among the fathers, was one international celebrity, another a famous poet, and a third who was considered an expert in political theory and philosophy. This is a group of imperfect men who managed to design the United States Constitution.

The mini biographies are often delightful. We learn that John Dickinson was a patriot admired by Thomas Jefferson despite Dickinson's refusing to sign the Declaration of Independence. Further we discover that Dickinson rose from private to general in the continental army and eventually served as Governor of both Delaware and Pennsylvania (simultaneously for several months).

George Washington lived with a poor family when he was young, but when he worked he saved money and purchased land. During the Constitutional Convention (where he served as President) instead of arguing issues during sessions, he gently persuaded members at social functions and dinners. In that sense, he established lessons in politics, despite claiming he was unacquainted with political science.

One of the forefathers detailed was William Blount, a scoundrel. William was basically a criminal. He was accused of stealing the payroll when he was paymaster (he claimed someone misplaced the 300,000 pounds) .
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Brett Farrell VINE VOICE on July 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This book gives you a 2-3 page biography of the original signers of the Constitution with a focus on the rumors or tabloid aspects of their lives. It doesn't go that in depth however, you only get 2-3 pages (Except for George Washington who of course gets a couple additional pages). But that seems to be enough for this delighful light read. If any of the characters within interest you enough you can hunt down a more detailed biography.
The book comes with a complete copy of the Constitution and some additional facts at the back of the book.
This book is not really for serious history fans but again it was an entertaining read but I would not repeat anything I read as a fact with out further investigating.
The only unintending problem with books like this is that many people will read this and only this concerning these men and declare themselves experts and repeat everything they read here (distorting even this over time) making a nuisance of themselves...much like History Channel viewers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Dave Schwartz VINE VOICE on November 19, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
As one of the foundation documents of the American Republic, the Constitution is an object of respect bordering on reverence. For the past 222 years it's formed the basis of the government of the United States. It has an aura of timelessness about it, as if it miraculously appeared as a gift from on high.

Yet the Constitution was written by mere mortals, sweltering in a Philadelphia summer. Many of them acknowledged that what they'd created was imperfect, but it was the best they could hope for. SIGNING THEIR RIGHTS AWAY gives contemporary readers some insight into the men who argued and compromised in 1787 and created the Constitution.

The book starts with a brief introduction that recaps the circumstances surrounding the Constitutional Convention and provides the backdrop for the rest of the book: a series of short portraits of the 39 men who signed the Constitution. Grouped by state, these brief (3-4 page) bios are informative and occasionally cheeky-more than a few signers were touched by scandal at one point or another.

It's a challenge to find as much to say about Richard Dobbs Spaight as Benjamin Franklin, but the authors do a fine job of making each signer interesting. It's not a narrative history of the Constitutional Convention, but SIGNING THEIR RIGHTS AWAY gives the reader, along the way, plenty of interesting details about the process to pique the reader's interest and hopefully inspire more reading about this crucial point in American history.

All in all, SIGNING THEIR RIGHTS AWAY is a quick and thought-provoking read. It might not be the best cover-to-cover reading experience since it lacks a driving narrative, but its structure makes it ideal for reading in short bursts or as a handy reference.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Wayne Crenwelge VINE VOICE on August 1, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
A very good, short read about the signers of the United States Constitution. I enjoyed it very much.

Though I am very well read about this time period (having read biographies of the first seven Presidents and numerous books such as 1776 and Founding Brothers), this quick look at the 39 signers of the Constitution was fun the read. It is like reading a Readers Digest bio on these 39 men. I got a chuckle with the the way the authors kept things light. They make humerous comments that help you absorb the info.

These men did you and I a great service to help carve out the place called the United States of America. This is the real document which gives us our rights as US citizens. The Declaration was just flipping off the British. The Constitution is the "meat and potatoes" of our country.

The neat thing about this book is now I can branch off from this point to read bios of men in the book. I think some (non-Presidents) would be quite interesting.

Even if you are not a heavy history reader, this might still appeal since it is like cliff notes. Enjoy learning about our history.
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