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Designing a Polity: America's Constitution in Theory and Practice
     

Designing a Polity: America's Constitution in Theory and Practice

5.0 1
by James W. Ceaser
 

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In Designing a Polity, James W. Ceaser, one of our leading scholars of American political development, argues for the continuing central role of the Founding within the study of American government. Drawing on essays published over the past 10 years, extensively updated and revised to reflect current politics, Ceaser engages the Founding Fathers, particularly James

Overview

In Designing a Polity, James W. Ceaser, one of our leading scholars of American political development, argues for the continuing central role of the Founding within the study of American government. Drawing on essays published over the past 10 years, extensively updated and revised to reflect current politics, Ceaser engages the Founding Fathers, particularly James Madison, emphasizes Alexis de Tocqueville as a model of political inquiry, critiques current and recent theorists such as Richard Rorty and Jacques Derrida, and explores the varieties of contemporary conservative thought. Designing a Polity offers a rich exploration of the core values of political sciences that will be of special interest to scholars and students of American political development, Constitutional thought, and contemporary political thought.

Editorial Reviews

Choice
A Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2011!
This book was a pleasure to read. The title implies a treatise on constitutional design; the work really comprises nine well-crafted essays by one of the premier scholars of American political thought. Each essay is a stand-alone gem—Ceaser is well-known for his elegant, dignified style and gentle humor—but they also constitute a compelling story, and are nicely grouped into different sections. The first section contemplates political foundations, and includes an excellent general theoretical treatment of foundationalism and nonfoundationalism, followed by a beautiful and original analysis of Tocqueville, and a piece on Leo Strauss that is worth the entire book price. Ceaser (Univ. of Virginia) then presents three tight essays on applying a science of politics to the questions of fame, statesmanship, and presidential-congressional relations. The third section includes three essays on modern conservatives and the construction of the Reagan legacy. The book concludes with "The Theoretical Origins of Anti-Americanism," which Ceaser writes "is arguably the only ideology of our day that has a worldwide reach." Every serious student of contemporary and historical American politics, or of American political thought, should keep this book handy. Essential. All readership levels.
The Washington Times
American exceptionalism’ has found one of its best explainers in James W. Ceaser. His Designing a Polity: America’s Constitution in Theory and Practice is written with verve, erudition and a wide-ranging eye on the political world. Anyone who reads it will no longer feel amazement or surprise that the health care overhaul, the conduct of the Iraq War or many other hot-button issues are argued about in terms of its compatibility or incompatibility with a document that went into effect in 1789.
Claremont Review Of Books
For those who have already benefited from reading Ceaser, Designing a Polity: America's Constitution in Theory and Practice is an important complement to his previous writings. For those who haven't yet had the pleasure, his new book is a particularly good point of entry to his thought. Designing a Polity brings together nine superb essays, revised to take account of developments subsequent to their original publication....[Ceaser's] work deserves our careful attention. If we want to investigate the American polity in all its complexity...then we must hail, but above all read, our Ceaser.
Society
Throughout is long and prolific career, James Ceaser has brought a ready wit and literary grace to political science, a discipline seldom oversupplied with either. Designing a Polity asks political scientists to think along with the American founders—to think about politics politically instead of reducing it to the play of subspolitical forces. He shows how thinking about politics changes for the better if the thinker does not make reductionist or deconstructionist assumptions. That's why the founders could design the polity they left for posterity, and that's how the understand, continue, and at times reform their work.
What Would the Founders Think?
Designing a Polity is not an easy book to review. The scope of the essays and Ceaser’s erudition and penetrating insights cannot be described in any meaningful way in a few summative sentences. That having been said, this reviewer hopes, at least, to have conveyed the breadth of the author’s thinking, his passion for his subject, and to have produced a desire to read more James W. Ceaser.
Political Science Quarterly
Ceaser has a sophisticated understanding of theoretical issues and writes with philosophical insight, but in a manner that brings philosophy down to earth. ...He brings his historical and philosophical knowledge to bear on American polity in a way that does credit to political science.
CHOICE
A Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2011!
This book was a pleasure to read. The title implies a treatise on constitutional design; the work really comprises nine well-crafted essays by one of the premier scholars of American political thought. Each essay is a stand-alone gem--Ceaser is well-known for his elegant, dignified style and gentle humor--but they also constitute a compelling story, and are nicely grouped into different sections. The first section contemplates political foundations, and includes an excellent general theoretical treatment of foundationalism and nonfoundationalism, followed by a beautiful and original analysis of Tocqueville, and a piece on Leo Strauss that is worth the entire book price. Ceaser (Univ. of Virginia) then presents three tight essays on applying a science of politics to the questions of fame, statesmanship, and presidential-congressional relations. The third section includes three essays on modern conservatives and the construction of the Reagan legacy. The book concludes with "The Theoretical Origins of Anti-Americanism," which Ceaser writes "is arguably the only ideology of our day that has a worldwide reach." Every serious student of contemporary and historical American politics, or of American political thought, should keep this book handy. Essential. All readership levels.
Harvey Mansfield
James Ceaser is our country's leading scholar in American politics. These venturesome essays display his originality, his inventive formulations, and his theoretical insight.
William A. Galston
James Ceaser, a prominent student of American political thought, never fails to instruct and provoke. The essays included in Designing a Polity are no exception. The eye-opening chapter on Tocqueville should spark a reconsideration of the foundations of American democracy and of the distinctive features of Tocqueville's account.
Claremont Review of Books
For those who have already benefited from reading Ceaser, Designing a Polity: America's Constitution in Theory and Practice is an important complement to his previous writings. For those who haven't yet had the pleasure, his new book is a particularly good point of entry to his thought. Designing a Polity brings together nine superb essays, revised to take account of developments subsequent to their original publication....[Ceaser's] work deserves our careful attention. If we want to investigate the American polity in all its complexity...then we must hail, but above all read, our Ceaser.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781442207905
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
12/16/2010
Edition description:
New Edition
Pages:
232
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.00(d)

Meet the Author

James W. Ceaser is professor of politics at the University of Virginia and a visiting fellow at the Hoover Institution and member of the Boyd and Jill Task Force on Virtues of a Free Society.

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