From Library Journal
Smith (political science, Yale) presents a history of American citizenship from Colonial times to the present. His central theme is the conflict between the ascriptive and consensual approaches to defining civic identities. The former reflects the predominance of political and economic pressures in legislative decision making and judicial interpretation at the expense of the latter, a more humanistic approach where the natural, organic rights of the individual determine the rights of citizenship. Smith concedes that the bifurcated nature of these forces is unavoidable in an inherently political society like ours, and yet he chastises politicians and jurists for their inability to repudiate half the formula, thus weakening his argument. Smith's book is an excellent chronology of the people, parties, movements, and developments in this often ignored area of American legal history, and its value in filling this gap outweighs the author's tendency for critical commentary out of historical context. Scholarly reading recommended for academic and specialized interests.?Phillip Young Blue, New York State Supreme Court Criminal Branch Lib., New York
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About the Author
Smith is a professor of political science at Yale University.