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The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America Hardcover – April 8, 2014

4.5 out of 5 stars 19 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

A powerfully argued indictment of the growth of executive power in Great Britain and its former colonies, the United States and Canada. Buckley’s book is greatly enhanced by his expert knowledge of the constitutions and politics of these three English-speaking nations. He shows, as few scholars have, just how much of the time we live in a fog and create results we never intended.

Gordon Wood, Brown University, author of The Radicalism of the American Revolution

The Once and Future King deals with constitutional issues at a more serious level than almost anything else I have read recently. The prose, moreover, is elegant and flowing. This is a beautifully written, very interesting, and largely persuasive book.

Philip Hamburger, Columbia Law School, author of Separation of Church and State

The book is immensely enjoyable to read and to think about. It’s a bracing read, in every way.

Sanford V. Levinson, University of Texas School of Law, author of Our Undemocratic Constitution: Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (and How We the People Can Correct It)

This is a bold and willfully provocative critique of American presidential power, how and why it got to be that way, and what we can do to change it. Buckley takes no prisoners in his trip back to the American founding, with forays into the British and Canadian political systems, questioning all the conventional pieties and received wisdom along the way. If history truly is an argument without end, this is a new entry in the debate.

Joseph J. Ellis, Mt. Holyoke, author of Founding Brothers and Revolutionary Summer

The Once and Future King is a work of virtuoso scholarship—bold, iconoclastic, and practical-minded in the spirit of the Framers themselves.

Christopher DeMuth, Distinguished Fellow, Hudson Institute

About the Author

F. H. Buckley is the author of The Morality of Laughter (University of Michigan Press), Just Exchange: A Theory of Contract (Routledge), and Fair Governance (Oxford University Press). A native Canadian, he lives in Alexandria, Virginia, with his wife, Esther, and teaches at George Mason School of Law in Arlington, Virginia.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 424 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books; 1St Edition edition (April 8, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594037191
  • ISBN-13: 978-1594037191
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,084,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Frank Buckley's _The Once and Future King: The Rise of Crown Government in America_ is a liberal education in itself.

Employing a prose style that is taut and deft, Buckley takes us through the debates over the ratification of the Constitution to show us what the Founders intended, what they did not, and how their principles--which envisioned the Congress dominating the federal government--have been transmogrified into one-man rule.

Worse, Buckley argues convincingly that much of this distortion of the Founder's intentions is virtually irreversible today. Indeed, most Americans appear not only to have acquiesced in, but also to cherish, "Crown government."

But there is a way back, Buckley argues, and the task of recovery, not surprisingly, lies with the Congress itself. Buckley offers readers a number of solid, practical reforms that Congress has both the right and duty to adopt--if it ever decides to reclaim the esteem and power it has lost.

All friends of liberty must hope that the Congress, and the American people, follow Buckley's road map to recovery.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The editorial reviews are spot on.

While reading the first four chapters of this book I was not quite sure where the author was going with this line of thought. Chapter five does a masterful job of linking the thrust of the book together pointing out that Britain, Canada and the United States current political systems come from the same root but took three different paths of political organization. Each has ended up in the same place with centralization of real power in one person.

While he offers some solutions, it is mentioned that throughout history, once power is grated to a certain position it is difficult for that position to give, or share that power. There is a brief mention of the influence of social media and changes in technology. I feel there was a missed opportunity to expound on the influence of global communications with the instant sharing of data AND identification of ‘enemies’ to the incumbent retaining that power.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Buckley makes a solid case for the British type parliamentary system vs. the US type three houses of government headed by an all powerful chief executive. All the arguments are clear and backed up by various readings of historical events in England, Canada and the USA. I have long wondered why our congress has abdicated so much power to the executive and the administrative departments, and Buckley here answered all of my questions to my satisfaction. Here in the US today we suffer from deadlock in congress and an executive who ignores the presently understood constitution. Buckley develops the historical background for this state of affairs, and draws parallels with the UK and Canada, with touches here and there of the other commonwealth nations. Buckley develops his case for the US currently using a third version of our constitution, showing clearly how the needs and solutions evolved from the days of our founding fathers to the present. This is a very good read, never dull or pedantic, and I highly recommend it to those who, like me, wonder what the heck is going on in Washington these days.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book provides an interesting view of the evolution of u.s. government, not all of it complimentary. Much that we have didn't necessarily have to happen. Some of that which we accept in our government came about indirectly or perhaps accidentally. I found the book interesting though not that easy to read.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I was looking for a book I could use to better understand how we got from the founding fathers to our current state of affairs, and Buckley's "Once and Future King" was exactly what I was looking for.
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This is not an easy read, but it is an excellent book, and I highly recommend it to everyone running for Congress or who is currently in Congress. The beginning chapters take some time to digest because the history of our US Constitution (as the author presents it) isn't taught in basic U.S. History classes. Buckley's thoroughness, when comparing presidential regimes to parliamentary ones, is also remarkable, and as you delve deep into the book you'll understand why his comparisons are important. I do enjoy history, but this book was a challenge for me. It's a new look at our three branches of government and our political system. Sorry, no "Cliff Notes," but if you make it to the end, you'll feel like you've earned a PhD in Political Science.

Reading about the struggles and fears that went into the design of our US Constitution by our Founding Fathers, allowed me to appreciate their genius. They seemed to know what could actually happen centuries later. In one early passage author Buckley writes, "George Mason, who complained at the Philadelphia Convention that a popularly elected president would `degenerate' into an `elective monarchy,' which would be worse than the real thing." This sets the tone for the entire book.

The erosion of Congressional powers, the increase of Presidential powers, and the Supreme Court's failure to police the balance of power has placed too much authority in the office of the President. Buckley, a professor at George Mason University School of Law, refers to this as Crown Government, and then he walks the reader through the gradual increase of presidential dominance. Today our president has granted himself the power to enforce or not enforce any law or to delay its implementation.
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