- Paperback: 376 pages
- Publisher: Univ Pr of Kansas; Reprint edition (December 1, 1985)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0700603115
- ISBN-13: 978-0700603114
- Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.8 x 8.5 inches
- Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 31 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #520,528 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Novus Ordo Seclorum: The Intellectual Origins of the Constitution Reprint Edition
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"An important, comprehensive statement about the most fundamental period in American history. It deals authoritatively with topics no student of America can afford to ignore."—Harvey Mansfield, author of The Spirit of Liberalism
From the Back Cover
'A witty and energetic study of the ideas and passions of the Framers.' - New York Times Book Review'An important, comprehensive statement about the most fundamental period in American history. It deals authoritatively with topics no student of American can afford to ignore.' - Harvey Mansfield, author of the Spirit of Liberalism
Top customer reviews
After having read other similar works by historians like Gordon Wood, Jack Rakove and Pauline Maier, I was disappointed in this one. To be sure, it was a relatively quick and straight-forward read. It was written in an authoritative style, and provided some interesting contextual background about such subjects as free speech, libertarian economic theories and political doctrines.
However, its quick-paced and authoritative style was not free. The cost was the sacrifice of depth, nuance and historical analysis and interpretation. The book read like there were no serious arguments to the contrary of the author's assertions.
For example, McDonald thinks that James Madison was neither practical nor useful. He thinks that all Madison did is originate a bunch of useless theories about gov't and politics, which he ended up revising later, as political circumstances shifted. Nor does he think much about Madison's role during the Constitutional Convention of 1787, and he thinks that it could have been accomplished just as well without him. He thinks that John Adams would have seriously interfered in the making of the Constitution, if he was present (Adams was in Europe at the time).
Professor McDonald does like and respect certain founding fathers. He particularly likes Alexander Hamilton, Gouverneur Morris and other "practical" men. To summarize it, it seems that McDonald likes doers, and dislikes thinkers.
Unfortunately, the reader wouldn't know why McDonald respects some founding fathers, and treats others with contempt, since no arguments are provided. If a reader simply absorbs, without critical examination, what the author writes, then one would come out with relatively limited, narrow and skewed knowledge of the times. This, among others, is a serious flaw in the book.