The Citizen's Constitution: An Annotated Guide [NOOK Book]

Overview

Pocket versions of the Constitution of the United States of America abound, as do multi-volume commentaries, scholarly histories of its writing, and political posturings of various clauses. But what if you want a delightfully quick, witty, and readable reference that, in one compact volume, places the document and its clauses into context? You’re out of luck—until now. Written by Seth Lipsky, described in the Boston Globe as “a legendary figure in contemporary journalism,” The Citizen’s Constitution draws on the ...
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The Citizen's Constitution: An Annotated Guide

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Overview

Pocket versions of the Constitution of the United States of America abound, as do multi-volume commentaries, scholarly histories of its writing, and political posturings of various clauses. But what if you want a delightfully quick, witty, and readable reference that, in one compact volume, places the document and its clauses into context? You’re out of luck—until now. Written by Seth Lipsky, described in the Boston Globe as “a legendary figure in contemporary journalism,” The Citizen’s Constitution draws on the writings of the Founders, case law from our greatest judges, and current events in more than 300 illuminating annotations. Lipsky provides a no-nonsense, entertaining, and learned guide to the fundamental questions surrounding the document that governs how we govern our country. Every American should know the Constitution. Rarely has it glinted so brightly.
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Editorial Reviews

Adam Liptak
Mississippi did not ratify the 13th Amendment, the one that abolished slavery, until 1995. I learned that fact, which calls to mind the adage "better never than late," from Seth Lipsky's entertaining annotation of the Constitution. The Citizen's Constitution is a magpie's miscellany of curiosities. It is governed by a newspaperman's sensibility, one more interested in conflict and color than order and synthesis. Lipsky…is particularly good on the Constitution's first two articles, which concern Congress and the presidency. He likes rascals and absurdities.
—The New York Times
Publishers Weekly
Inspiring, but also vague, eccentric and sometimes dysfunctional: that's the picture of the Constitution that emerges from this annotated guide. Lipsky, founding editor of the Jewish Forward and the defunct New York Sun, writes extended notes on every phrase in the Constitution and amendments, including obscure elements like letters of marque and reprisal. Citing commentators and landmark Supreme Court cases, he gives an evenhanded account of evolving interpretations of the Constitution and its influence on governance and politics. Lipsky's own predilections show mainly in his resurrection of the anti-Federalists and modern-day defenders of state sovereignty. While highlighting the Constitution's quirks, Lipsky says little about larger issues like the Senate's unequal representation of voters. This is a lively curio shop of Constitutional law and lore, but lacks analytic depth. (Nov.)
Library Journal
What are the frameworks through which we govern our country? In separate texts, Rakove and Lipsky provide annotated analysis of our founding U.S. documents. Pulitzer Prize-winning author Rakove (history & political science, Stanford Univ.; Original Meanings: Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution) presents both the Declaration and the Constitution with carefully laid out annotation that's accessible to general readers as well as high school and college students. His extended introduction provides a readable and instructive analysis of how the writing of the Constitution progressed, especially on matters concerning representation, executive power, and creation of the amendments. His annotations often rely upon contemporary usage and meaning from the time of the Declaration of Independence and Constitution—useful for students to understand—and he compares such usage to other documents of the time.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780465020034
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • Publication date: 10/6/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 352
  • File size: 667 KB

Meet the Author

Seth Lipsky, founding editor of the New York Sun, has also worked at the Wall Street Journal at home and abroad, and was founding editor of the Forward newspaper, where he was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize for editorial writing in 1991. He lives with his wife and four children in New York.
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 14 of 7 Customer Reviews
  • Posted January 18, 2010

    Are We Are a Nation of Laws? The Citizens Constitution by Seth Lipsky

    If it can be said that there is a TIME for a book, then this is the TIME for this volume. We are inundated with information from a multitude of sources concerning war, terrorism, politics, economics and social justice. Every aspect of our lives seems to be in flux. We well might echo Thomas Paine, "These are the times that try men's souls."
    You do not need a law degree to learn about our government of laws. This volume by Seth Lipsky makes available the words of our founding documents, and with footnotes,case laws, actions by Courts & Congress and opinions of leaders, enlightens and educates. Let us examine how one Section is treated:
    ARTICLE I Legislative Powers; "Section 4, The Times, Places and Manner of holding Elections for Senators and Representatives, shall be prescribed in each State by the Legislature thereof; but the Congress may at any time by Law make or alter such Regulations."
    2008 Justice Anthony Scalia cited this clause in upholding Indiana's requirement that voters must present identification document in order to vote.
    1776 circa Patrict Henry wrote his opinions and Alexander Hamilton expresssed oppossing views.
    1971 Federal Election Campaign Act and the Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act the following year.
    1845 Election Day set for Presidential & Vice Presidential Electors
    Reconstruction Era brings "Ex Parte Yarbrough" and the ruling that Congress receives here its authority to make it a crime to intimidate voters. Members of the Ku Klux Klan were convicted of beating a black citizen to prevent him from voting or to punish him for doing so.
    2008 Claims made against the Black Panthers in Philadelphia for intimadating voters. (In the earlier case a unanimous court of the government said, "If it has not this power, it is left helpless before the two great natural and historical enemies of all republics, open violence and insidious corruption.")
    January 19,2010 a Special ELection is scheduled in Massachusetts.
    This one Section 4 shows how pertinent the Constitution is from 1776 to 2010. It would seem this volume deserves a place in our schools and colleges. Certainly there will be lively discussion if our citizens read the book and apply the Constitution to current events, laws, etc.

    I gave this book to all my nieces & nephews, mature citizens with families. At 89 years of age it is my desire to remind them of their heritage so they can pass on respect & admiration for the Documents and our Founding Fathers to their children & grandchildren.

    A couple of their comments: "liked the examples of the original words of the Founding Fathers & even some of their controversies" "..present day examples & recent Court cases, make it more understandable and relevant to current events" "..started to read it and find it fascinating,but then I got a job - Yikes-" "...clarity of presentation makes it a must read for anyone who wants to understand the Constitution.." "...read this book for the pertinent Sections and discuss, discuss, discuss..."

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 2, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    Everyman's Guide to the U.S. Constitution

    Seth Lipsky, a veteran journalist and writer, and before its demise in September, 2008, the editor of The New York Sun, has written a guide to the United States Constitution that readers ranging from intellectually-curious laymen to professors of constitutional law will find absorbing. Rather than following the textbook method of using often extended excerpts from cases to show how a court interpreted a provision, Lipsky lays out each constitutional provision, and briefly explains, typically in a few paragraphs, how it has been interpreted. A nice feature is the brief historical context of the provision being discussed. The annotated format he uses is easy to follow. For those readers who prefer to examine an issue in greater detail, including reading a case interpreting the provision in question, the author includes endnotes and references to the actual cases and scholarly analyses.
    This book is a fine introduction to the U.S. Constitution and the issues that arise in its wake. I heartily recommend it.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 6, 2010

    An important book -- and readable

    Every citizen should read this book.

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