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The Right To Vote: The Contested History Of Democracy In The United States Hardcover – August 22, 2000
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.
". . . a masterful account of America's rocky progress toward realizing universal suffrage.. . . An enormously illuminating book!" -- Frances Fox Piven and Richard A. Cloward, authors of Why Americans Still Don't Vote
". . . a wonderful new book . . ." -- -Richard Reeves, Tulsa World [11/23/00]
". . . easily the wisest and most comprehensive study of who was and is allowed to cast a ballot. . ." -- --Los Angeles Times Book Review [11/26/00]
"A superb retelling of the history of the right to vote. . .instructive to anyone concerned with the fate of democracy." -- Nancy F. Cott, Woodward Professor of History and American Studies at Yale
"In the wake of, arguably the most controversial election in American history, one may do well to pick up. . .[this] book. . ." -- New York Law Journal [12/22/00]
"Keyssar's bold and coercively argued revisionist history of the franchise will be of great value to students of democratization everywhere." -- James C. Scott, Eugene Meyer Professor of Political Science and Anthropology, Yale University
"This is a masterful historical account of a complex, contradictory legacy." -- Publishers Weekly [Starred Review]
"This magisterial work is of great importance to anyone who wants to understand American politics." -- Benjamin I. Page, Professor
"Until now no one has ever studied, in all its detail, the full history of voting rights in the United States." -- American Prospect [1/5/01]
More About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Keyssar is able to present succinct summations of complex historical and legal issues. For example, one of the themes of the final historical chapter is to outline how the Warren Court developed the standard of "one man, one vote". In a few brilliant pages (pp. 298-302 of the paperback edition), Keyssar gives a synopsis of just how complicated and convoluted even this standard can be. Keyssar points out that this standard works only where there are no structural biases to the way that the individual votes are aggregated. A simple example: in my home city of Portland, OR, we elect our city councilors at-large. For a majority white city, this has the consequence of making it more difficult to elect minority councilors. Keyssar lays out the complexities of the debates on the resulting issues from this line of thought with clarity and fairness.
For me, another of the pleasures of the book was learning about some lesser known moments in our national history, e.g., the Dorr War in Rhode Island in 1841-1842. This is part of one of the overall themes of the book, which is the class bias that has always been (and still is) part of our politics. Keyssar is very good at explicating how both parties have played that game.
One final point that Keyssar makes and which is worth reminding ourselves of in light of the last election. There is no constitutional right to vote for the President for any of us. To quote: "...Read more ›
Apart from the deftness of Keyssar's writing, the subject matter - how voting rights have evolved in America - is one that has received paltry little attention. That is, until now. Thankfully, this book reveals voting rights history in a way that makes the reader feel like he or she is finally getting the history lesson he or she never got in high school - but should have.
Of course it has become a cliche to say that "This is a book every American should read." But I would be remiss if I failed to say that the book genuinely made me feel that way. More than that, this is an important book for anyone in the global community that wants to use the American experience to gain deeper insights into the evolution of democracy. In that sense, The Right to Vote is not just "The Contested History of Democracy in the United States," as the subtitle states, it is ultimately the universal story about how human yearning so typically collides with (and challenges) the operatives of the greater political machine. In short, everyone in every nation that cares about the future of democracy should read this book.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Extremely well researched and readable. Great resource to understand the denial of the vote in American history.Published 8 days ago by james j friedman
On first publication "The Right to Vote" immediately became a classic on its subject. Keyssar documents, in painstaking and sometimes heartrending detail, the struggles to... Read morePublished 3 months ago by Chimonsho
Excellent, thorough history and analysis of a vitally important issue.Published 18 months ago by John H.
THis is an excellent book for history on Voting Rights in the US since the country's inception. I recommend it as a book to help the reader understand what is happening today... Read morePublished 21 months ago by betty stone
I had to read this book for a political theory class, and I thoroughly enjoyed it. Keysarr did a great job of researching and writing it. Read morePublished 21 months ago by William A. Blackwell
Alexander Keyssar's amazing book traces the history of America's democracy and tell so many interesting stories. Its incredibly well-written and fun to read.Published on October 9, 2013 by ebayl
This must be the definitive history of voting in America. I hold back from giving it five stars because it was a little more than what I was looking for, but this is as thorough... Read morePublished on December 18, 2007 by Jack Lechelt
In my forty years of studying the history of the U.S., I find this work to be the most authoritative and complete work yet encountered. Read morePublished on November 4, 2006 by Randall Lindsey
This book is, undoubtedly, THE best book to read insofar as the history of voting in America. Keyssar writes a fabulous book - meticulously detailing critical historical... Read morePublished on June 28, 2003 by Erin Esposito