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Signing Their Rights Away Hardcover – September 6, 2011
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“…this is both educational and entertaining.”—Booklist
“Kiernan and D'Agnese, who also wrote Signing their Lives Away, have provided another volume that should appeal to all political and history buffs.”—McClatchy Newspapers
“This little book is entertaining, easy to read, and above all, informative. It’s a brilliant piece of work and a must-have for any history-buff’s library...”—PoliticusUSA
“An extraordinarily fascinating study of America's lesser-known founding fathers alongside the more well-known ones, Signing Their Rights Away is a welcome and enthusiastically recommended contribution to public and college library shelves.”—Midwest Book Review (Reviewer’s Choice)
“It’s no secret that I love reading history and occasionally a book comes along that provides an unusual insight beyond the standard telling of a given event. Signing Their Rights Away....is a truly fascinating story that puts their achievement in perspective.”—Bookviews
“Kiernan and D’Agnese make both this period and the men who pulled off this incredible achievement exciting and entertaining...This is exceptional historical reporting that is informative, enlightening, and accessible. Anyone with even a remote interest in our rich national history should purchase this highly recommended book...”—Larry Cox, King Features Syndicate
“[The authors]...maintain a refreshing reverence for the Constitution itself. Rather than ask readers to believe that an ‘assembly of demigods’ (Jefferson's words) wrote the Constitution, Ms. Kiernan and Mr. D’Agnese challenge the notion that the group that crafted this document of enduring genius was uniquely brilliant or visionary. If this raises the question of how exactly the miracle was accomplished, it should at least give readers some hope for our own seemingly uninspired political era.” —The Wall Street Journal
“...entertainingly written...”—School Library Journal, starred review
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Kiernan and D'Agnese write in a pleasant colorful style that reads easy and occasionally delights. The authors clearly illustrate that the Founding Fathers of the United States were normal human men of their time.
Among the founding fathers were two who died in duels, one who was ruined by drink, and another who became a fugitive. Among the fathers, was one international celebrity, another a famous poet, and a third who was considered an expert in political theory and philosophy. This is a group of imperfect men who managed to design the United States Constitution.
The mini biographies are often delightful. We learn that John Dickinson was a patriot admired by Thomas Jefferson despite Dickinson's refusing to sign the Declaration of Independence. Further we discover that Dickinson rose from private to general in the continental army and eventually served as Governor of both Delaware and Pennsylvania (simultaneously for several months).
George Washington lived with a poor family when he was young, but when he worked he saved money and purchased land. During the Constitutional Convention (where he served as President) instead of arguing issues during sessions, he gently persuaded members at social functions and dinners. In that sense, he established lessons in politics, despite claiming he was unacquainted with political science.
One of the forefathers detailed was William Blount, a scoundrel. William was basically a criminal. He was accused of stealing the payroll when he was paymaster (he claimed someone misplaced the 300,000 pounds) .Read more ›
Yet the Constitution was written by mere mortals, sweltering in a Philadelphia summer. Many of them acknowledged that what they'd created was imperfect, but it was the best they could hope for. SIGNING THEIR RIGHTS AWAY gives contemporary readers some insight into the men who argued and compromised in 1787 and created the Constitution.
The book starts with a brief introduction that recaps the circumstances surrounding the Constitutional Convention and provides the backdrop for the rest of the book: a series of short portraits of the 39 men who signed the Constitution. Grouped by state, these brief (3-4 page) bios are informative and occasionally cheeky-more than a few signers were touched by scandal at one point or another.
It's a challenge to find as much to say about Richard Dobbs Spaight as Benjamin Franklin, but the authors do a fine job of making each signer interesting. It's not a narrative history of the Constitutional Convention, but SIGNING THEIR RIGHTS AWAY gives the reader, along the way, plenty of interesting details about the process to pique the reader's interest and hopefully inspire more reading about this crucial point in American history.
All in all, SIGNING THEIR RIGHTS AWAY is a quick and thought-provoking read. It might not be the best cover-to-cover reading experience since it lacks a driving narrative, but its structure makes it ideal for reading in short bursts or as a handy reference.
Though I am very well read about this time period (having read biographies of the first seven Presidents and numerous books such as 1776 and Founding Brothers), this quick look at the 39 signers of the Constitution was fun the read. It is like reading a Readers Digest bio on these 39 men. I got a chuckle with the the way the authors kept things light. They make humerous comments that help you absorb the info.
These men did you and I a great service to help carve out the place called the United States of America. This is the real document which gives us our rights as US citizens. The Declaration was just flipping off the British. The Constitution is the "meat and potatoes" of our country.
The neat thing about this book is now I can branch off from this point to read bios of men in the book. I think some (non-Presidents) would be quite interesting.
Even if you are not a heavy history reader, this might still appeal since it is like cliff notes. Enjoy learning about our history.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
history you need to know, get this book and read it. understand what it takes to lead a nationPublished 16 days ago by Dennis C. Marcello
I purchased Signing Their Lives Away, about the signers of the Declaration of Independence, several years ago. Read morePublished 13 months ago by Lynda Mondshour
Received this book as a gift and then bought this for another friend.Published 17 months ago by cornpone
Who were the folks who took the chance, laying their lives, fortunes, and properties on the line leading to the establishment of the US. This book gives you the background.Published 21 months ago by Trekker01
Maybe useful as a brief synopsis of the lives of the signers. However, the writers own prejudices are plainly displayed through irrelevant comments such as pointing out that a... Read morePublished on July 4, 2014 by Walkbass
This little book is full of good information but is also loaded with trite phrases, dated slang and weak attempts at humor. Read morePublished on January 21, 2014 by Charley