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ChoiceA 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.