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69 of 73 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2013
How sad that people can organize a review bomb of a book they have not read but have been told to be afraid of. Austin is certainly right: That kind of " democracy" is NOT what Americas founders intended!
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100 of 111 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2013
A good book which does it's best to pull apart the far right willful misinterpretations of our founding documents. It's smart and self-critical and actually written by an academic.
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102 of 114 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2013
This book is a well written document describing how statements from our founding fathers need to be taken in context, in order to understand what they were saying to the American people.
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132 of 150 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2013
I was not going to write a review of this excellent, balanced piece of scholarship. That's because I normally do not write book reviews at all on Amazon. However, when I started to order this for a friend, I noticed the avalanche of negative reviews all posted today - all by Right Wing nutjobs it appears. I wish Amazon had a way of dealing with this. To those of you contemplating ordering this book, I urge you to buy it and read it. It should be assigned reading for every true American and patriot.
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44 of 47 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2013
This book does an excellent job of explaining the true meaning of our constitution. It is well thought out and filled with historical evidence. Please don't listen to reviewers that never even read the book. You need to read this! Decide for yourself where the truth lies. Well done Mr. Austin!
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86 of 97 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2013
This book does what journalists should have done during the past decade. Since 1994, the extreme conservative wing of the Republican party has tried to co-opt the founding fathers to serve their purposes. Using proof-text citations, they pull one or two sentences out of context and use them to justify their stances. This book places those quotations back into their contexts and shows that the right is being sloppy at best, and blatantly dishonest at worst, in their invocation of the founders.

The author claims to not be a liberal. To the extent that the author appears to have an axe to grind, it is with the misuse of historical documents, not in political ideology. And as an English professor specialized in 18th century political texts he is probably more able to interpret what the "founders" meant than anyone, and definitely more able than the likes of Glenn Beck.

Today a number of one-star reviews showed up. Undoubtedly by people prompted by this right-wing website's encouragement: [...] (the link is to a screenshot on the author's blogpage). I am sure they did not read the book. If you read their reviews you will undoubtedly come to the same conclusion.

The book is a good read. At times repetitive, but it does a good job in assessing what the founders thought (hint - they NEVER agreed) and how this is represented in today's media. One eye-opener in the book is that the mudslinging that is so commonplace today was not better in the past. If anything, it was worse.

Read the book yourself. If you hate it, please come back and rate it a one. I think you will give it a four or five.
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97 of 112 people found the following review helpful
on January 8, 2013
I greatly enjoyed this book. It takes a primarily centrist view that highlights some of the reasons why compromise and statesmanship have been stymied at many levels of government. It also illustrates how oversimplification of history is a dicey business. Excellent read for the current state of government.
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41 of 45 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2013
As a moderate Republican, combat veteran, and Mormon- I find this book a refreshing look at our founding fathers. I am tired of the right-wing of my party demonizing everyone that doesn't agree with their radical opinions. This book is written for everyone that agrees with this sentiment. It is thought provoking and well balanced. Mr. Austin has created the go-to book for anyone interested in the truth. If you cant handle the truth- don't read it.
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48 of 56 people found the following review helpful
on January 9, 2013
This book gives readers new perspective on the Founding Fathers and what their work can mean for all of us in this political era. Michael Austin is a thoughtful scholar and an excellent writer.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on January 25, 2013
Austin's book provides a much-needed antidote to the relentless tide of ill-informed or deliberately manipulative pro-theocratic propaganda produced by the religious right. Such pseudo-scholars as David Barton who de-contextualize quotes or even promulgate false ones as proof texts for their ax to grind of America as a 'Christian nation' are exposed as charlatans. Austin compares these techniques to those used by those who pull isolated quotes from the Bible to paste together a particular theological argument. He also discusses how these liars for Jesus (see Chris Rodda's Liars For Jesus: The Religious Right's Alternate Version of American History Vol. 1 for deep drilling on this) create a homogeneous pastiche of the founders as what he calls 'Founderstein' in an attempt to portray a sense of consensus which did not exist.

People shouldn't make the mistake of seeing one founder's opinions as being the same as those of other founders, e.g. "This Founder said X, and of course the FoundingFathers (TM) all believed X, so therefore we should do Y!" The various leaders of early America, the 'founding fathers', disagreed about a lot of things and the constitution was a way to compromise, moderate, and guarantee rights while depending upon the choices of the people. Austin rightly emphasizes what the religious right does not about America's beginnings: that while the founders were important, visionary, yet flawed individuals, the ultimate choices and legitimacy of our country lay with the will of the people.

Efforts to gin up fake one-star reviews by right wingers reflects their abhorrence of real debate and exposure. Despite paying lip service to democracy and freedom, they seek to quash contributions to those values in the pursuit of imposing their narrow, twisted interpretations of religion through the exercise of government power that they supposedly want to limit.
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