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The Penguin Guide to the United States Constitution: A Fully Annotated Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Amendments, and Selections from The Federalist Papers 1st Edition

4.7 out of 5 stars 204 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0143118107
ISBN-10: 0143118102
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"excellent...valuable and judicious"
-Jill Lepore, "The New Yorker "

About the Author

Richard Beeman is professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Penguin Books; 1 edition (August 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0143118102
  • ISBN-13: 978-0143118107
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 0.6 x 7.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (204 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #14,216 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This version is annotated by Richard Beeman, a genuine, non-ideological constitutional scholar. It is NOT the right wing/Skousen/LDS version described in many of the critical comments. For some reason, Amazon has applied the same set of comments to multiple versions of the Constitution, which makes it virtually impossible to determine which ones are worth buying - and reading.

This version is well worth buying and reading, and reading again. In addition to the text of the original documents, it offers excellent historical context including a discussion of how the various articles and amendments have been interpreted by courts (not ideologues) through the years. It's a very valuable resource.

UPDATE: In a comment to this review, RedRocks explains that if you try to order the paperback version of this Penguin guide, you'll actually get the Skousen/LDS version instead. (My brother confirmed this.) Kindle orders get the correct Penguin version. Amazon needs to correct this - RedRocks has complained about it before but Amazon has done nothing.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Having just quickly perused all 44 pages of this USA e-book, just want to point out that this version of The United States Constitution is not annotated. It does have an excellent live index, very useful.
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Format: Paperback
I can't remember when, or even if, I read through the Constitution before. Whatever the case, I knew I had to read it now and get to know it.

After several false starts on other versions (a downloaded copy, an iPod app, the appendix of a book on politics), I have finally read it through with actual pleasure using this book. The secret is getting the text in short bursts, with the author breaking in to explain it section by section. It really helps to learn the "why" at the same time as learning the "what." I could digest it in small bites, and really understand what I was reading, so I didn't need to re-read things over and over which I have a tendency to do if I don't grasp the concept.

This book is short but packed with good material. It includes the Declaration of Independence (also broken into sections and explained), a sampling of the Federalist Papers, a few brief chapters on the history of what happened before, during, and after the writing of the Constitution, and a section on important Supreme Court decisions and how they tie in to the Constitution. I feel like I took a quick refresher course in Political Science after reading this through.

A couple of the author's opinions slip in here and there, and he seems to lean a wee bit to the left, but it's nothing you haven't already heard from your schoolteachers. There's nothing in here that should prevent anyone with any particular ideology from using this book to gain plenty of straightforward knowledge about the origins of our country. I would like to add that the publishing quality is superb - the paper is the very white, acid-free kind that will last long on your bookshelf, which was wise to use in the kind of book that will be useful to refer to repeatedly over the years.
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Format: Paperback
This book is essential reading for anyone who wishes to understand our Constitution and the various contemporary controversies regarding its interpretation. It consists of annotated texts of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, followed by slightly abridged versions of three of the most insightful Federalist Papers, followed by a concise history of the genesis, ratification, and early implementation of the Constitution. The author is a recognized expert on the history of the United States and the Constitution. The book is clear, well written, and to the point. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in political theory, government, the history of the United States, and constitutional law.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Horrible in all ways. There is NO table of contents, just contents within each section that you have NO way of getting to unless you scroll through the whole damn thing! Are the Amendments there? Yep! Good luck finding them. Keep scrolling. Garbage!
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I have not read each review. That being said, I downloaded the Kindle because I was concerned about accuracy, particularly in reproducing the Preamble. As one who has read the Constitution, the reproduction of the Preamble here is glaring in error. The Preamble, which sets tone and expectations of the parties to this our for the framework for governance. It was in fact composed with quite a bit of non-grammatical use of caps. We're all familiar with non-grammatical use of caps, it's done to exert emphasis. This is of critical importance, particularly to those delving into our framework for governance for the first time so following I offer both:

From the Kindle publication, We the people of the United States, in order to form a more perfect union, establish justice, insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity , do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.

From the document as transcribed at the National Archive, We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquility, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.
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