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Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution Paperback – May 27, 1997
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
While the conclusion of the first objective has been criticized and debated by various reviewers (and appropriately so), I believe that this book is extremely valuable in its accomplishment of this second purpose. With dense yet incredibly readable prose, Rakove demonstrates that the Constitution was an attempt to combine republican principles with the practical experiences of the States during the Revolution and under the Articles of Confederation.
Using a few topical discussions such as a discussion of views on Representation, the Presidency, and Rights, Rakove illuminates the thinking embraced by the Framers (such as that of Locke, Montesquieu, and others) and compares and relates such principles with the real experience and concerns of the Framers (such as Madison's view that the States were becoming destructive of property rights under the Confederation). Such descriptions go a long way in describing how and why the Framers crafted the systems of government found in the Constitution and why these systems drew some criticism from both inside and outside the Convention.Read more ›
Unfortunately, Rakove seems to have written this book for my professors, not for me. This is not to say that he does not write well. For his audience, his writing is extraordinary, but his chosen audience is assuredly not a broad one. His diction often left me casting about for my dictionary. I had one professor who would never use a plain Engish phrase when an obscure Latin phrase would do half as well. Rakove isn't in his class, but only because he shuns Latin. Perhaps I am only indicating my own ignorance, but I don't come across the word "abjure" every day, and Rakove included dozens of such speed bumps in his narrative. Rakove's word choice keeps "Original Meanings" out of the realm of remarkable books, but his insight, attention to detail, and willingness to challenge the myths of original intent will force every constitutional scholar to add this text to his or her library.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
smooth transaction - as advertised - proves why the second amendment does not allow anyone to carry a gun anywherePublished 17 days ago by Steven A.
Glenn Beck said, "It is God's finger that wrote the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. Read morePublished 28 days ago by Franklin the Mouse
...it's the best thing I've read on the mind and political context of the Founders at the various founding moments... Read morePublished 11 months ago by Paul Frandano
Not a light read and one that requires some understanding of late 18th century language and thought, but well the effort for an appreciation of just how experimental this new... Read morePublished 13 months ago by jbrw
A thoughtful meditation on the convoluted process of constitution making, Original Meanings speaks to modern debates over "originalism," the theory that the Constitution... Read morePublished 15 months ago by courtandconstitution
This is the first of the books Rakove has written linking the ideas in the Constitution to the beginnings of American politics and the contentions that fed its fire. Read morePublished 17 months ago by Frederick Cullison
I got this one on the strength of Rakove's C-span interview with Brian Lamb on Booknotes. Prof Rakove was witty, amusing and a great interview. Read morePublished 23 months ago by Pkneeno