on January 31, 2012
If you're interested in understanding the Constitution at a new level, this book will set you well along your way. It's a collection of dozens of writings by the Founding Fathers, classical thinkers like Aristotle, Lincoln, Paine, Jefferson, and more common day leaders like JFK, LBJ, and Reagan. It looks at the various opinions and thoughts on Constitutional government, and the assault on it from the Progressives like Woodrow Wilson and FDR. And it does it all by providing you the original source documents. Don't take my word for it, or even political commentators! It's all in the book...you can read FDR's Address to Congress in 1944 and see it for yourself. Want to understand today's Liberal establishment? Take the time to understand their founding principles by reading Wilson's musings or FDR's speeches...it's all in this book. Speeches by Lincoln, FDR, Wilson, Coolidge, Reagan. The Federalist Papers and historical documents written on slavery. Even debate transcripts between Lincoln and Douglas. Read the Progressives' own words on how you should "trust government and give it more and more power". You can read FDR's "Second Bill of Rights" that he offered in his Address to Congress in 1944...it sounds eerily similar to the demands shouted out (in a far less eloquent manner) by today's Occupy Wall Street protesters.
What's cool is this book doesn't really insert its own opinions other than an introductory letter (about 1.5 pages) before each major section (there are 11 sections), and a quick sentence or two summing up individual writings/speeches/etc. It just provides you with the original source documents and you can come to your own conclusions. There are over 780 pages of incredible information in this book. Much of the book presents a compelling and morally-just case for a Constitutional government. To a lesser extent it highlights the assault on Constitutional government in favor of a more centralized and powerful one. All of it is brilliant. Even FDR, for as socialist as his beliefs may have been, was able to brilliantly communicate and present them in a way that you almost found yourself agreeing with him, despite the fact that they go against everything you believe. It's hard not to imagine what it was like listening to or watching any of these figures give these speeches, or pen these writings, when you are reading them.
I highly recommend this book. Another great product out of one of America's gems...Hillsdale College. I didn't go to Hillsdale, but the more I learn about it, the more I realize its importance in the preservation of our great nation. Keep up the great work, Hillsdale!
on February 29, 2012
This 790 page textbook of primary source documents (except for brief paragraph length intros) is a necessary resource for those of us who are political conservatives. This is the textbook used by Hillsdale College in their course on the U.S. Constitution which is required for all students. I have been waiting for this new edition since I found out about it last Constitution Day in September, 2011. I am currently taking an online course by Hillsdale College on the U.S. Constitution and this is the text I am using. I am amazed at the level of education that our Founding Generation had and I have only read about 15 chapters of this book. It seems they had a better understanding of our current political environment that the politicians of today.
This is by no means an easy read. I heartily recommend you get this book but be ready to take your time with it. I am reading some of the things that influenced our Founding Fathers and Mothers and, to put it mildly, these ideas are deep. Last week I had to read an essay by Aristotle entitled "Nicomachean Ethics". This is supposed to address the question, "What is the best life for man?" If it did I missed it. I will have to re-read it until I can see what Aristotle was talking about. This is not meant to discourage anyone. I simply want to be honest that this is not a light read and it will require taking some time in reading, re-reading and reflecting on what is written. I am not giving up; I am it this for the longer haul that will give me some treasure, and if that means having to dig some then so much the better.
Before I graduated high school I had to take 2 years of U.S. history and civics. I never read the Declaration of Independence or the U.S. Constitution in those classes. How can you teach U.S. history and civics without reading our Founding documents? They are here in this textbook along with other primary source documents from our Founding generation through the 20th century. You will read documentation from those who love the United States of America and those who hated it. You will find how this country got off track with the Progressives (comparing their thinking with the Founding Fathers and Mothers, and they are worlds apart); how they use they same language and words as our Founding generation but have different definitions and meanings.
I believe we are in a war for this country. Who we choose in the current election will determine whether we continue with what our Founding Fathers and Mothers wanted and fell short at times or choose something else. And we had better know what that something else is or we are in trouble of repeating past mistakes to our undoing. Will we continue with the Founding principles that took a collection of 13 former colonies of the British Empire and made us a world power in less than 200 years? If that does not speak of a divine Providence then I don't know what does.
It seems that many conservatives do not know why they believe what they believe. They are unfamiliar with the arguments for and against those beliefs. I think most of us believe what we believe because we were told to believe it by our parents or whoever raised us. We have never really thought about why we believe what we believe or why we vote the way we do or for whom. We need to be better educated and this text goes a long way in giving us that. This is not the first time the United States of America has been in crisis. It really does fall on each generation to preserve and defend the liberty, equality, principles and values that made us a powerful nation. In 1942, FDR said about fascism, "In this war, as we know, books are weapons". This text gives you an RPG (rocket propelled grenade) for this fight. "Let us dare to read, think, speak and write" (John Adams).
on February 16, 2012
Understanding American means understanding its Founding. It means studying the Constitution, which is the culmination of the Founding. It also means understanding the historic and modern-day attacks on the Founding: secessionism and progressivism. This Reader is a great tool in reaching that understanding. It explains the purpose of America in the words of the men and women who made this country. It also focuses on the philosophies of those who have a different vision of this nation's past, present, and future. Most of the contents are primary sources written by the most important and influential figures in this American history. It also contains essays that help to explain the meaning, context, and significance of the primary sources. If you want to understand the Constitution and the American Founding, then this book is for you.
on August 29, 2012
I am a conservative political philosophy graduate student from Claremont, and as much as I like and approve of everything in this reader, I think there are some problematic gaps that should be filled in any subsequent editions that Hillsdale makes of this book.
My two main complaints: (1) in the "Natural Rights and the American Founding" sections this book contains very little written by the Antifederalists. (2) there was no inclusion of any documents from the Populist movement or Social Darwinist movements, two movements which were precursors to Progressivism in that they advocated for a more direct democracy instead of our Constitutional system of representation and checks and balances.
These are major problems because the Antifederalists give context for the Bill of Rights; many of their demands made it into the Amendments. The reader includes just one essay by Brutus and one letter by Hamilton "the Farmer Refuted," but the letter by the antifederalist farmer is not included!
The Populists were very much a home-grown American movement and differ from the Progressives in that their political theory doesn't come from a foreign source. For instance, their party platform quotes the Declaration, and they argue for expanded government power on the precedent set by the Postal service. It is important to remember the Populists because it goes to show that there have been criticisms of the Constitution from both within and without the US, which the editors do not stress very much.
Still, this is a good reader because the Progressives did much more damage than the Populists to our Constitutional Structure. But I think both the Populists and the Antifederalists need to be talked about to get a full historical perspective on who the "enemies of the Constitution" really were. I guess it just makes the story too complex to consider ciritics of the Constitution who didn't study Hegel over in German universities, but were themselves very American
This book is 800 pages of information from original sources on the US Constitution. A very few have commented here on Amazon some nonsense about this being idealogically slanted. Obviously they have not even looked at the table of contents, much less read the book, because it includes long writings of liberals who think the Constitution is outdated or wrong.
Nevertheless, I highly recommend this collection as the single best source of writings on the Constitution. That the citizens of the US are in great need of education on their government is obvious when the President of the United States, a former lecturer on the Constitution at a respected school, says idiotic things like "Congress doesn't have a whole lot of core responsibilities". When the highest law enforcement official in the country can say something that stupid and plain wrong, you know we are in a heap of trouble.
For those reading this review who aren't conversant with the Constitution, it is a short document that established our form of government in 1787 and is the supreme law even now. At least it should be the supreme law. The Constitution's main content is a list of the duties and restrictions of the legislative branch - Congress. One of the duties of the Executive (that is the President) is to "take care that the laws be faithfully executed". Since President Obama refuses to execute many laws he disagrees with and grants exceptions to laws at whim (immigration laws, Obamacare laws, Defense of Marriage Act, etc.), he is in violation of the Constitution and should be removed from office.
Yes, I know that is an extreme statement, but I make it to illustrate the importance of the issue. And if you are unable to either refute or agree with the above paragraph, then you had better get this book and read it so you can understand the importance of the Constitution.
Once again, this book is NOT a collection of opinions but selections from original documents regarding our constitutional government. It is divided into 11 sections beginning with the Declaration and Constitution and ending with the change from limited government to total government through the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt and welfare state of today. It includes writings from anti-constitutionalists like Woodrow Wilson and the Progressives, Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson and others. Instead of reading what is thought about these people and their ideas, this book has their actual writings and ideas and you can make up your own mind.
I freely admit that there are dry sections, but they are important in understanding the subject. I have spent years studying the government and Constitution and I found a number of documents I had never read in here. Take this list of authors from Section I: Jefferson, Aristotle, Cicero, Locke, Algernon Sidney, Lincoln. If you have any knowledge at all of the sources of American thinking, you would recognize that list. This work makes all these sources accessible and excerpts important parts from hundreds of pages that you would otherwise have to sort through.
5 stars. And one more thing. This collection of readings is from Hillsdale College, one of the premier colleges in the country, and you can take a free course over the internet that will greatly aid you in your understanding. Highly recommended also.
on May 7, 2012
What an a abundance of wealth found within this book. I also have the print version. I got the Kindle version for traveling. I would give it 5 stars but there is no way to navigate this edition. There's no table of contents. I know that I can swipe up or down to skip chapters, but this book is too vast to just skip a couple of chapters. I have joined the Constitution course that Hillsdale College offers for free online, I bought these books to read to go along with this course. By the way, this course is brilliant. So, to go through the course there is required readings that go along with it. The readings for each course are scattered throughout the book. That's why I wish there was a table of contents. So the print version gets 5 stars, and the Kindle version gets 4.
on March 19, 2012
I purchased this book from Amazon to accompany the free course offered online by Hillsdale College on the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. It should be required reading for every child in our school system, but I fear its contents are no longer prominent in the curriculum nor in the public discourse. This book clarifies the principles on which this country was founded, and leads one to the conclusion that we are quickly losing sight of them. How do people determine how they should come together as a society, a nation? What type of government would best promote their values? How would they ensure an orderly and just system? What carefully thought out parameters would best preserve liberty for all without sacrificing personal freedom? Under what authority would this government operate? What idea or entity is powerful enough to provide the guidance, structure, and respect necessary to make this government feasible?
The US Constitution: A Reader contains all the wisdom of the ages upon which our Founding Fathers drew as they debated and argued over the establishment of America. Nothing less than Divine Providence assembled this profound and brilliant group of men at this pivotal time in history to give birth to the greatest nation on earth.
on May 27, 2012
This is an essential reference, especially in conjunction with the Hillsdale College course, Constitution 101 (free on line). The course and this refernce are the top of the line combination with which to learn the basis of the United States of America. This is what all voters should know.
on May 6, 2015
This book is the Reader to the Constitution 101-2014 Course at Hillsdale College, Michigan. Radio personality Mark Levin recommend this online Constition 101 class, (April 2015 which is fantastic. They give you all the follow-up pages you need to read, but I didn't want to be bound to the PC for reading--I love a good old-fashioned book. This has the added bonus of having more material in the book, than is talked about and presented on the lecture pages. You can find the free online course at: www.Hillsdale.edu
Again, you don't "need" the book to take the online class. But this is a smart book in its own right. 11 Chapters and all the documentation you can think of to start a country---our Country, The United States of America.
1. The apple of gold and the frame of silver: Dec. of Independance., The Constitution,...
2. Natural Rights and the American Revolution: The Farmer Refuted, Common Sense....
3. The Founders on Religion, Morality and Property: VA declartion of Rights, Washingtons Farewell address, Letter to the Hebrew Congregation...
4. Gov't under the Articles of Confederation: The problem of Legislative/Majority Tyranny: Circular letter to the States, Vies of the Political System..
5. Rethinking the Nature of Union and the Structure of Gov't: Letter transmitting the Constitution, Essay I Brutus, Federalist Papers....
6. The Three Branches of Gov't....more Fed. Papers (Madison/Hamilton), Marbury vs. Madison....
7. The Founders on Slavery,the Rise of the Positive Good School, and the Roots of the secession Crisis: NW Ordinance,The Missouri Compromise..
8. Crisis of Constituional Gov't." Dred Scott vs. Sandford, A House Divided, Republican Party Platform of 1856.....
9. Secession and Civil War: SC Secession Declaration, Emancipation Proclomation, Gettysburg Address.....
10. The Progressive Rejection of the Founding: Liberalims and Social Action, Socialism and Democracy, Progressive Democracy....
11. Institutionalizing Progressivism: The New Deal and the Great Society: works of FDR, JFK, Winston Churchill, Ronald Reagan....
on May 13, 2012
I purchased the Kindle version with great anticipation. I love the ability of having this wonderful reference available to read digitally. The content and scholarship are wonderful. BUT, without a table of contents it's usefulness has been gutted. Please correct this obvious oversight and allow us who purchased this on Kindle to get full use of it.
Updated.... New version with working table of contents. Updated to 5 stars.