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A unique and handy guide to the law of land from one of America's most esteemed constitutional scholars. Known across the country for his appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Professor Richard Beeman is one of the nation's foremost experts on the United States Constitution. In this book, he has produced what every American should have: a compact, fully annotated A unique and handy guide to the law of land from one of America's most esteemed constitutional scholars. Known across the country for his appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Professor Richard Beeman is one of the nation's foremost experts on the United States Constitution. In this book, he has produced what every American should have: a compact, fully annotated copy of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and amendments, all in their entirety. A marvel of accessibility and erudition, the guide also features a history of the making of the Consittution with excerpts from The Federalist Papers and a look at crucial Supreme Court cases that reminds us that the meaning of many of the specific provisions of the Constitution has changed over time.


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A unique and handy guide to the law of land from one of America's most esteemed constitutional scholars. Known across the country for his appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Professor Richard Beeman is one of the nation's foremost experts on the United States Constitution. In this book, he has produced what every American should have: a compact, fully annotated A unique and handy guide to the law of land from one of America's most esteemed constitutional scholars. Known across the country for his appearance on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, Professor Richard Beeman is one of the nation's foremost experts on the United States Constitution. In this book, he has produced what every American should have: a compact, fully annotated copy of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and amendments, all in their entirety. A marvel of accessibility and erudition, the guide also features a history of the making of the Consittution with excerpts from The Federalist Papers and a look at crucial Supreme Court cases that reminds us that the meaning of many of the specific provisions of the Constitution has changed over time.

30 review for The Penguin Guide to the United States Constitution

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kath ❅

    I never added this to my currently reading because I've been reading this slowly over the last couple of months for my U.S. government and politics class. It had very good annotations that made of the documents written in a very high style a little more simple. Very good for people a little intimidated my those oldish documents and also very informative. Edit 1/24/20: Reread this for a class. Still interesting but I’ve removed my four star rating because this isn’t really a type of book that can I never added this to my currently reading because I've been reading this slowly over the last couple of months for my U.S. government and politics class. It had very good annotations that made of the documents written in a very high style a little more simple. Very good for people a little intimidated my those oldish documents and also very informative. Edit 1/24/20: Reread this for a class. Still interesting but I’ve removed my four star rating because this isn’t really a type of book that can be rated and I have different views on that sort of this as a reviewer now.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Skjam!

    After the last book I reviewed, I felt I needed something a bit more intellectually challenging to recharge my brain cells. Thus this volume, which contains not just the annotated text of the United States Constitution, but the Declaration of Independence, selections from the Federalist Papers, and a short history of how these things came about. The troubles started in the aftermath of the French and Indian War, which England won, but at high cost, and the British government was broke. Parliament After the last book I reviewed, I felt I needed something a bit more intellectually challenging to recharge my brain cells. Thus this volume, which contains not just the annotated text of the United States Constitution, but the Declaration of Independence, selections from the Federalist Papers, and a short history of how these things came about. The troubles started in the aftermath of the French and Indian War, which England won, but at high cost, and the British government was broke. Parliament decided that as the American colonists had gained the most with the new lands taken from the French, they should be willing to help pay for them with raised taxes and trade restrictions. Unlike the West Indies (where Alexander Hamilton was from), the Continental colonies had not yet been able to buy seats in Parliament to represent their interests; and they’d thought that their successful help in the war would have changed that. So it was like a teenager who’s helped Dad with a big project and is expecting more autonomy as a result being told, “No, son, money’s tight, so I’m cutting your allowance and you can’t hang out with your friends at the mall any more.” The colonists considered themselves loyal subjects of the British Crown and therefore deserving of all the rights and privileges of free Englishmen. Parliament and the British government considered the colonists wayward children to be taken in hand. When the colonials protested against “taxation without representation”, the children were backtalking their rightful elders, and the proper response was to put them back in their place. Part of the issue was that the British Constitution was “unwritten”, cobbled together from documents like the Magna Carta, court decisions, and acts of Parliament. Thus it was vulnerable to being altered at any time the government felt they could get away with it. Such as in this situation. After all, the colonists had no representation in Parliament, and thus no voice to speak for them. What were they going to do, declare independence? Feelings and actions escalated on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean. Still mostly loyal British subjects, the colonists kept trying to find diplomatic solutions even as protests escalated and started breaking out into violence. The British government reacted by cracking down even harder, and demanding obedience, not negotiation. By the time the Continental Congress, comprised of delegates from the various American colonies, convened, the Colonies were already in a state of rebellion, with British troops on the ground fighting them. Faced with this reality, they decided that it was time for a Declaration of Independence, explaining to the world why they were rebelling. The reasons listed are one-sided–the colonists were no longer trying to be fair-minded or conciliatory. Of course, once you’ve declared independence (huzzah!) you then have to govern yourself (drat!) The thirteen colonies had learned the perils of too-centralized government that didn’t understand local issues. But without the unifying tie of British rule, the colonies were like thirteen small countries that had very different priorities. Some had large populations, while others were tiny. Some had already begun industrializing, while others had agriculture as their main economic activity. And the sticking point that caused the most argument, slavery. While some forms of slavery had been legal in all the colonies during the preceding centuries, by the mid-Eighteenth Century, economic changes and philosophical/religious movements turned against the practice, especially in the Northeastern colonies, some of which had actually banned owning people as property! Meanwhile, the Southern colonies had made their economic system and culture highly dependent on chattel slavery, and particularly on enslaving people of African descent. And they had their own religious movements to promote the idea. With all those disagreements in mind, the Articles of Confederation for the newly independent United States of America were more like guidelines than rules, and gave responsibilities to the central government without the power or funds to actually do those things. It didn’t work at all well. Faced with the possibility that this alliance would fall apart, a Constitutional Convention was formed, supposedly just to amend the Articles. But it was hijacked by delegates who wanted to create a whole new written Constitution with a central government that was strong enough to do necessary things, but bound by checks and balances to prevent tyranny. Many, many compromises later, including some shameful concessions to slavery, a Constitution was made, and proposed to the States. Notably, an enumerated Bill of Rights of the citizens was not included, for two reasons. First, what would become known as the Federalists feared that if some rights were enumerated in the Constitution, that would block un-enumerated rights from being extrapolated. (See, for example, the arguments for and against women having a right to make decisions about their own reproductive systems.) And second, everyone realized that it would take more months of arguing to agree on a Bill of Rights, and the delegates were already sick of each other. Instead, it was promised that a series of amendments to provide a bill of rights would be the first business of the new United States Congress, to be voted on by the states. What we now call the Federalist Papers were written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison and John Jay as both propaganda to convince the States to adopt the Constitution, and to explain their interpretations of how the Constitution worked. For example, judicial review by the Supreme Court of the constitutionality of acts of Congress wasn’t spelled out in the Constitution, but Hamilton argued that it would be part of their natural function. (And in Marbury v. Madison, the Supreme Court agreed.) Once Congress convened under the new United States Constitution, the amendments we now call the Bill of Rights were indeed a top priority. More amendments have come along since, each with its own consequences and controversies. The annotations by Richard Beeman, a professor of history and Constitutional scholar, explain in plainer language what each part of the Constitution is about, and why they’re important. He also discusses the controversies and alternative interpretations that have arisen over the years. After the main history section, Mr. Beeman discusses various important Supreme Court cases that have altered the interpretation of the Constitution. (He admits that other cases could have been included.) The book ends with suggested further reading on the various subjects presented–after all, you don’t want to take just one scholar’s opinion on these important matters. There is no index or endnotes. This is a good condensed and portable edition that will be valuable any time you need to know what the Constitution and related documents actually says. All American citizens should have a copy of the Constitution handy, so I highly recommend having a book like this, if not necessarily this book, on your shelf.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Mark Taylor

    Because I’m a huge history and political science nerd, I recently read The Penguin Guide to the United States Constitution, by Richard Beeman. No, it’s not a guide for flightless fowl like Opus from Bloom County; rather it comes from the Penguin publishing house. It’s an excellent compact and concise guide to the Constitution of the United States, and should be required reading for every American. Beeman annotates the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, as he explains what the diff Because I’m a huge history and political science nerd, I recently read The Penguin Guide to the United States Constitution, by Richard Beeman. No, it’s not a guide for flightless fowl like Opus from Bloom County; rather it comes from the Penguin publishing house. It’s an excellent compact and concise guide to the Constitution of the United States, and should be required reading for every American. Beeman annotates the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, as he explains what the different articles meant at the time, and how they are interpreted now. It’s remarkable how durable the Constitution has been over the more than 200 years it has been the law of the land. In addition to the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution, the book also features three of the Federalist Papers, numbers 10, 51, and 78. My only annoyance is that the Federalist Papers are edited slightly, which is odd, because presenting them unedited only would have added a couple of more pages to the book. But that’s a small quibble. The rest of the book features essays by Beeman about the early years of the American republic, from the American Revolution until 1801. These essays provide a good brief glimpse at the struggles and debates of those years. Beeman also has a short essay at the end of the book that highlights important Supreme Court decisions throughout the history of the United States, which gives the reader insight about how the Constitution has been interpreted over the years. While there are many books about the Constitution and the Founding Fathers, The Penguin Guide to the United States Constitution is an excellent short introduction to the most important document in the history of the United States.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kevin

    Richard Beeman does a great job breaking down the Constitution, Declaration of Independence, and the Amendments. He gives details about the year and concerns of the days in which each part was wrote. He gives great clarity into the attitudes and thoughts of the founding fathers.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Adrienne Scanlan

    Excellent review of America's core documents. Especially helpful during an election year in understanding the reasons behind the Electoral College. This book is only an introduction, of course, but the text contains references to other scholars and their books for further reading.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Catherine

    Handy and information guide to the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution, Selected Federalist Papers as well as a comprehensive history of the US following implementation of these documents and a selection of Supreme Court cases. Excellent resource for students and teachers.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Shivani Maurya

    This being my first introductory read to America's constitution, I haven't much to dish out as far as insights go. But this definitely got me interested into the history behind the conception and ratification of this historic document. The endeavor by the founding fathers to bring together the thirteen ideologically warring colonies under one banner bordered on recklessness. The effect that the Declaration and the Constitution had is a testament to their talents and insights. And much of what th This being my first introductory read to America's constitution, I haven't much to dish out as far as insights go. But this definitely got me interested into the history behind the conception and ratification of this historic document. The endeavor by the founding fathers to bring together the thirteen ideologically warring colonies under one banner bordered on recklessness. The effect that the Declaration and the Constitution had is a testament to their talents and insights. And much of what they envisioned has survived to date. It is hard to miss the hypocrisy of their outcry for freedom from unjust practices while keeping the slave trade alive for decades. But in its brevity the Constitution along with the Declaration of Independence, concentrated the essence of ideals and principles the founders wished their fledgling nation to build itself upon. The annotations help in providing context behind several clauses (controversial or otherwise) incorporated at the time. Another thing that got me stoked was the inclusion of 3 Federalist papers at the end. I don't presume I shall read them all, but I am looking forward to reading the most cited ones and Chernow's biography on Hamilton. I enjoyed reading this. One has to stop and digest the import of each sentence. And in the present times, it is hard to miss the past reaching out to shape the present.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Laura

    Useful, but not a page-turner.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Zach

    Finished this months ago. Just cleaning out my "currently reading shelf"

  10. 5 out of 5

    Tom Knoll

    Excellent explanation of the founding fathers thought process, and the power of the document itself

  11. 5 out of 5

    Joan

    Clear presentation. Annotations help navigate this important document.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Pacific Lee

    Understanding the context to any idea is necessary if you want to derive the most insight. Reading the Declaration of Independence, for instance, would make much more sense if you knew that it was as much an argument for unity to the colonies (often in disagreement) as it was a statement towards Great Britain. The guide here provides not just historical information, but also highlights stylistic features that may have been missed (e.g. the list of grievances in the Declaration rising to a cresce Understanding the context to any idea is necessary if you want to derive the most insight. Reading the Declaration of Independence, for instance, would make much more sense if you knew that it was as much an argument for unity to the colonies (often in disagreement) as it was a statement towards Great Britain. The guide here provides not just historical information, but also highlights stylistic features that may have been missed (e.g. the list of grievances in the Declaration rising to a crescendo), and is also full of the author's own opinions regarding the amendments, etc. It is inevitable that a review of history produces bias, and you may find yourself disagreeing with some of the opinions presented in the book. The author, for example, sees the trend towards greater democracy as necessarily a good thing, advocating for a direct popular vote in particular. I think in lieu of the recent election, it is important to consider that without the electoral college system, the president would effectively be chosen by major urban centers in California, Texas, and New York at the expense of the more rural regions of America. Ultimately, though, this is a great amalgam of information on some of our founding documents, and will provide for a solid intro to the subject.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Tyler Hill

    This book, or at least a book very much like it, should probably be required reading for all Americans. But, based on the fact that I somehow received a High School and College education without reading either the Declaration nor the Constitution in its entirety, it obviously isn't. So, why bother reading it now, at the ripe old age of 35? Well, to be frank, in recent years, it seems like people whose political opinions I disagree with have become more and more fond of wrapping themselves in the This book, or at least a book very much like it, should probably be required reading for all Americans. But, based on the fact that I somehow received a High School and College education without reading either the Declaration nor the Constitution in its entirety, it obviously isn't. So, why bother reading it now, at the ripe old age of 35? Well, to be frank, in recent years, it seems like people whose political opinions I disagree with have become more and more fond of wrapping themselves in the Constitution and its subsequent Amendments as a sort of default defense for their beliefs. But, it was hard to argue that they were misinterpreting things when I hadn't actually read it myself. So, I figured it was time. First off, I have to say that I'm grateful that I read an annotated version of these documents because if I'd attempted to read them straight through without annotation, I'm not sure I would have A) made it all the way through and B) took away all the layers of context and background information that both led to their creation and informed their content. In this volume, each section of each document is presented in bite-sized chunks with the author, Mr. Beeman, breaking in after each section to explain it in contemporary language and give some context to the content. This allowed me to read it in small bursts and then think about things before moving on, which is the prefect way to tackle this sort of subject matter. In addition to the Declaration and Constitution, all the Amendments are presented, as well as three of the Federalist papers. The Federalist papers, while interesting and heady are probably the most difficult part to get through, with only a short introduction to each by Mr. Beeman. After that, the final third of the book is a quick summary by the events leading up, during and after the creation of the three most important documents contained here (the Declaration, Constitution and Bill of Rights). While I was a little hesitant to wade into this section, again, it proved to be enlightening and added additional context to them, as well as giving an overview of many of the important legal cases that have helped define and shape them. In a book like this, I suppose its inevitable that one asks if Mr. Beeman's own political leanings affect his analysis. For the most part, I think he does a good job staying impartial and just laying the details out for the reader to evaluate. The few places he injects his opinions are those places where its difficult to disagree (eg: referring to the places in the Declaration and Constitution that indirectly or directly condone slavery as being "reprehensible"). Reading this it does become clear that Mr. Beeman sees the Constitution as a living document and one where it is more important to find modern day value rather than adhere perpetually to the founders original intent. His analysis of it drives home the idea that while the Constitution was (and is) a revolutionary and amazing document, it was one that was created by intelligent but fallible men who tried to reach a series of compromises to help draw together 13 very separate colonies over 200 year ago. I'm sure that some would argue that such a view point diminished the value of the document, but I would probably argue instead that -given its origin of compromise- it makes it all that much more amazing that it has helped guide out country forward this long, and will continue to guide future generations forward to. I should probably wrap this review up by referring to my original reason for reading this book. Did reading the documents confirm my beliefs? For the most part yes. Did it disprove the opinions of those I disagreed with in the first place? Often. But, not always. The truth of the matter is, as anyone who has read them knows (and I can say that now, whee!), the Constitution and its Amendments are often frustratingly vague, so there's a lot of room for interpretation. But, that said, at least I'll feel like I know what I'm talking about when I do.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Jay

    I am in an active service member in the U.S. Army. My purpose of being is to protect and defend the U.S. constitution. To be exact, the following is the oath that I made: “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulat I am in an active service member in the U.S. Army. My purpose of being is to protect and defend the U.S. constitution. To be exact, the following is the oath that I made: “I do solemnly swear that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; and that I will obey the orders of the President of the United States and the orders of the officers appointed over me, according to regulations and the Uniform Code of Military Justice. So help me God.” I have been in the service for 3 years now, but never have I really known the specific content of the U.S. Constitution. I needed to know what I am defending - what my brothers and sisters in armed forces fought and died for recently and throughout the existence of this nation. I chose this book because it did not seem overwhelming. I ended up loving this book. The first section of the book contains all the original U.S. Constitution articles and amendments. The author also opines and puts and paraphrases after each article to aid the readers understand better. For amendments, he describes somewhat simple backgrounds on how and why those amendments came about after each. The last section of the book, the author explores how the U.S. Constitution was born along with small history lessons. He does that in a politically neutral way; I do not know what some of the reviewers complain of regarding his political bias. The other subject the books covers are: how the first 13 states came together against malfeasance of the British King George III and decided to declare the independence; which states were against independence at first; by who and how the U.S. constitution was created; disagreements between representatives of each state while drafting the constitution; ratification process in each state; contention between the federalists and anti-federalists; how bipartisan political system was accidently born. If you are a U. S. citizen, you must read this book or at least U.S. Constitution to develop appreciation of our nation and how your rights are protected according to the constitution written and amended by the brilliant minds of our ancestors.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Andrew Watson

    Excellent compact volume including, and annotating, the Constitution and related documents. If I were invited to the Trump White House I would go, holding this book as a gift in one hand. I'd need the other hand to hold my nose. More at: https://changingway.org/2017/02/16/if... Excellent compact volume including, and annotating, the Constitution and related documents. If I were invited to the Trump White House I would go, holding this book as a gift in one hand. I'd need the other hand to hold my nose. More at: https://changingway.org/2017/02/16/if...

  16. 4 out of 5

    Henry

    I was looking for a book to learn more about the United States Constitution and The Penguin Guide to The United States Constitution over-delivered! Richard Beeman's writing is excellent, both engaging, informed and to the point. Each section of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and its Amendments is given verbatim followed by notes presenting historical, political and legal context. This guide gives body and depth to these fundamental documents affecting every American citizen one I was looking for a book to learn more about the United States Constitution and The Penguin Guide to The United States Constitution over-delivered! Richard Beeman's writing is excellent, both engaging, informed and to the point. Each section of the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution and its Amendments is given verbatim followed by notes presenting historical, political and legal context. This guide gives body and depth to these fundamental documents affecting every American citizen one way or another. Reading it reinforced my belief in the strengths of the American political system, despite its many flaws, its tumultuous history and its ongoing transformation. Looking at the diverse array of governance choices around the world, the link between political stability and societal respect of institutions, one cannot but be respectful of the United States Constitution and its Founding Fathers for bettering the human condition and providing a model for the rest of the world. I particularly relished the Federalist Papers excerpts as well as the historical chapters that followed. We are reminded that, despite a seemingly linear improvement of human life in the past two hundred years due to economic gains and scientific progress, the road has been sinuous, fraught with disagreement and violence. The state of our political world is inherently human, with the good and the bad. It is humbling to realize that this progress is somewhat precarious and requires a continuous upkeep. Civilizations that have been on this Earth longer than America teach us that nothing can be taken for granted and that they are ultimately defined by the rules and ideaks that govern it. If the United States continues to keep true to the principles that founded it, its future and place in the world are still shining bright. May long live the Constitution!

  17. 4 out of 5

    Josh McConnell

    Richard Beeman has a brilliant piece of work here. Purposefully designed to be a small pocketbook for reference, The Penguin Guide To The United States Constitution takes an unbiased annotated commentary to America's important founding documents. Beeman goes through the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, Amendments to the Constitution and finally a few selections from The Federalist Papers. All of these are broken down effectively to explain what the language meant at t Richard Beeman has a brilliant piece of work here. Purposefully designed to be a small pocketbook for reference, The Penguin Guide To The United States Constitution takes an unbiased annotated commentary to America's important founding documents. Beeman goes through the Declaration of Independence, the United States Constitution, Amendments to the Constitution and finally a few selections from The Federalist Papers. All of these are broken down effectively to explain what the language meant at the time and the context surrounding the statements found in these documents. Finally, Beeman includes six short chapters that provides context for all of these important documents. The author starts by explaining why America felt it needed a Declaration of Independence, moves on to the difficulties enforcing it (and the Constitution) in the years to follow and continues to fast forward through history to explain the effects of these various documents. But the most important thing is context. Beeman really gives us an idea as to why these documents were first written and the specific events surrounding their creation. The Penguin Guide To The United States Constitution is a fantastic read that is a must-have for history buffs or simply those who want to brush up on their American History. Best of all, its pocketbook nature is perfect to have for those who need access to a book to reference while on the move, whether for school or for work. Pick this one up if you are interested in the subject matter.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lisa

    A compact guide which covers The Declaration of Independence, The Constitution, All Amendments to the Constitutions, The Federalist Papers, History and a few Supreme court cases all in 208 pages. A good quick overview if you don't have time to read 800+ bios of the key players etc.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Ray Stickle

    Readers looking to get reacquainted (or simply acquainted) with the U.S. Constitution need look no further. Here you have the original text of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution interspersed with annotations that provide historical background, objective clarifications, and important connections to legislation that preceded and followed the documents. Following the two documents are selections from The Federalist Papers, including Madison on separation of powers and Hamilton on Readers looking to get reacquainted (or simply acquainted) with the U.S. Constitution need look no further. Here you have the original text of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution interspersed with annotations that provide historical background, objective clarifications, and important connections to legislation that preceded and followed the documents. Following the two documents are selections from The Federalist Papers, including Madison on separation of powers and Hamilton on judicial review. The second half of the book contains a short yet detailed history of the writing of the Constitution, its ratification, and its growing pains (including the beginnings of those looking at strict interpretation of the document and those looking at broad interpretation, a phenomenon that started early and continues today). The author then ends with summaries of many important Supreme Court decisions and a great list of recommendations for further reading. I highly recommend this for anyone who needs a brush-up civics lesson, for anyone looking for an on-ramp into further study of the Constitution and the early years of the nation, or for anyone who just wants to revel in the great documents while enjoying some insightful historical context.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Matt

    The Penguin Guide is what it claims. It’s a quick reference to the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Amendments with some light annotations. There are a couple short chapters which give historical summaries of the conventions, some excerpts of Federalist papers and a sampling summary of U.S. Supreme Court precedents. My only complaint was that it did not also have the Articles of Confederation, but there was a short chapter in the back which discussed the distinguishing characte The Penguin Guide is what it claims. It’s a quick reference to the Declaration of Independence, U.S. Constitution and Amendments with some light annotations. There are a couple short chapters which give historical summaries of the conventions, some excerpts of Federalist papers and a sampling summary of U.S. Supreme Court precedents. My only complaint was that it did not also have the Articles of Confederation, but there was a short chapter in the back which discussed the distinguishing characteristic of that document from the subsequent Constitution. Serious U.S. history students will have little use for this book, however, I wanted to review the Declaration of Independence and Constitution as a preamble to reading The Federalist Papers so I was happy with the purchase. The notations and light historical background were a welcome addition given my purpose for buying it.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Christopher Watson

    If you're looking for a concise, accessible, authoritative reference guide to the Constitution and its history, this is the book. Beeman strikes the ideal tonal balance between scholarly and popular, and includes far more quality information than you'd think possible in such a slim volume. Illuminating and entertaining, with terrific, cogent commentary on the Constitution and its amendments. Also includes the Declaration of Independence and applicable selections from the Federalist Papers. You'l If you're looking for a concise, accessible, authoritative reference guide to the Constitution and its history, this is the book. Beeman strikes the ideal tonal balance between scholarly and popular, and includes far more quality information than you'd think possible in such a slim volume. Illuminating and entertaining, with terrific, cogent commentary on the Constitution and its amendments. Also includes the Declaration of Independence and applicable selections from the Federalist Papers. You'll come away with the a solid grounding in the minimum an informed U.S. citizen should know about the supreme law of the land, regardless of your personal politics. Highly recommended.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Patrick Pritchard

    A very accessible volume of annotated text to the U.S. Constitution and Declaration of Independence. This volume also contains three short abridged essays from the Federalists Papers, essays on the struggle of ideas that went into creating America's founding documents and also a small section on notable Supreme Court decisions. This work is quite enjoyable and enlightening. I would recommend it to any student of American history or many others wishing to know more about the birth of our nation.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Genesis Hansen

    This book suffers from the curse of a crappy title - sounds dead boring, doesn't it? We did a community read wit this and the author came to speak at my library so I picked this up to skim before attending the event. It's a short and very accessible guide to the Constitution and other important documents in the history of the United States, and FAR more interesting than the title makes it sound. It would be a great text book for a high school or college class, as it really brings to life some of This book suffers from the curse of a crappy title - sounds dead boring, doesn't it? We did a community read wit this and the author came to speak at my library so I picked this up to skim before attending the event. It's a short and very accessible guide to the Constitution and other important documents in the history of the United States, and FAR more interesting than the title makes it sound. It would be a great text book for a high school or college class, as it really brings to life some of the events and people surrounding the creation of the Constitution.

  24. 5 out of 5

    David

    This was an interesting read because it includes the complete text of important founding documents along with analyses and explanations to make them more understandable. These founding documents contain some of the longest sentences I've ever read and can be difficult to follow. The modern language descriptions help with understanding the importance of what is said, or not said in some cases. It also puts them in the context of the times in which they were written. I learned a lot and this book This was an interesting read because it includes the complete text of important founding documents along with analyses and explanations to make them more understandable. These founding documents contain some of the longest sentences I've ever read and can be difficult to follow. The modern language descriptions help with understanding the importance of what is said, or not said in some cases. It also puts them in the context of the times in which they were written. I learned a lot and this book really makes me want to read more on these topics.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Ed

    There is so much crap talked about the US constitution that I had to study to become a US citizen that I thought I should know a bit more. This book sits by my computer to wack back at strict constitutionalists in on line arguments. A good summary and commentary on the Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and key Federalist Papers by someone without an axe to grind who writes intelligently and informatively.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Adam Stern

    Fantastic annotated version of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution from Penn's Richard Beeman. Also includes a short history on the US Revolution and the debates on the Constitution's formation, ratification, and key US Supreme Court cases.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Vivek Anandh

    Just as the name suggested it gives a brief overview of Americal Constitution. For a person who did not even have an inkling of this subject, it proved to be a great place to start with. Now I am greatly interested in knowing more about the US Constitution.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sophie

    The annotations in this book are lovely. They are perfect way learn about the how and why of the Constitution in a quick and interesting read.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Chaston Pfingston

    This is a must-read for all Americans. Concise yet substantive, this book outlines the basic concepts necessary for understanding our country’s founding values.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Steven

    Great book, a clear guide to the Constitution, some U.S. history, and important Supreme Court Rulings

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