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Every American should buy this book
on October 15, 2006
This is a visually wonderful book. Sam Fink originally did a pen-and-ink version of this, which was later revised to be a full-colour version for Welcome Books. Apart from the briefest of commentary pieces, this is simply the text of the U.S. Constitution, from Preamble to Twenty-Seventh Amendment. Fink has done an engaging hand-inscribed version with illustrative artwork, sometimes symbolic and sometimes demonstrative. For example, for the Thirteen Amendment (the one passed in 1865 to abolish slavery), Fink's graphic shows strong chains being broken by a pair of shears that have been painted red, white and blue like the flag. For the Sixteenth Amendment (the 1913 amendment permitting general income taxes), Fink's drawing shows a man standing next to Uncle Sam, with Uncle Sam's hand reaching surreptitiously into the unsuspecting man's pocket.
Each section, article and amendment gets its own two-page or more spread, and in this nothing other than the bare text of the Constitution is included apart from the graphics and the very occasional historical notation. Fink has incorporated a dove motif into many of the graphics, in honour of the idea presented in Catherine Drinker Bowen's book, `Miracle at Philadelphia', that there were doves of peace that perched on the delegate's shoulders as they wrote the Constitution.
Fink includes a page on George Washington, full of quotable-quotes from others in history attesting to the significance of the man who was not only first president of the United States under this Constitution, but also president of the Constitutional Convention. Another page is devoted to Gouverneur Morris, who is credited with writing the Preamble. Fink also includes a two-page rendering of Benjamin Franklin's Address to the Delegates at the conclusion of the Convention. Franklin freely admits that the Constitution is not all he had hoped for, but then likely never would be for any given individual. After the text of the Constitution, Fink provides a six-page annotated chronology of the events in constitutional development (including the dates for amendments), and a two-page glossary of terms.
The inside covers on both the front and the back of the book show the complete Constitution, including an eagle graphic, written in two page format, all the more remarkable for being juxtaposed as it is in a book in which the Constitution takes up 120 pages of the 140-page book.
The large ledger-sized format gives physical weight and presence to a document fully worthy of such treatment. This is a visual treat, and one that might make this crucial document a bit more engaging for those who might take the Constitution for granted. The Constitution is a living document, and this helps show that, by adorning the text not with political commentary and legal theory, but with solid imagery that gives great impact.