Explaining America: The Federalist

Overview

Now with a new introduction—award-winning historian Garry Wills's definitive analysis of the Federalist Papers

In 1787 and 1788, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison published what remains perhaps the greatest example of political journalism in the English language—the Federalist Papers. Written to urge ratification of the Constitution, the eighty-five essays—trenchant in thought and graceful in expression—defended the Constitution not merely as a theoretical statement but as a ...

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Overview

Now with a new introduction—award-winning historian Garry Wills's definitive analysis of the Federalist Papers

In 1787 and 1788, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison published what remains perhaps the greatest example of political journalism in the English language—the Federalist Papers. Written to urge ratification of the Constitution, the eighty-five essays—trenchant in thought and graceful in expression—defended the Constitution not merely as a theoretical statement but as a practical instrument of rule. Now updated with a new introduction, Garry Wills's classic study subjects these essays to rigorous analysis, illuminating, as only he can, their significance in the development of the philosophy on which our government is based.

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Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
The prolific and popular scholar-historian adds a new introduction to his study of the Federalist Papers, this time defending himself against critics who argued he blurred distinctions between Founders Hamilton and Madison. He also reaffirms his belief in Madison's idea of "refining" objectivity in government, and suggests how he would change his original version: he'd de-emphasize the differences between our time and the Founders' since Wills now believes that our present-day two-party system preserves the ideals of disinterest and compromise. None of these changes would satisfy Kirkus, who (back in 1980) faulted Wills's "exegetic methods" and his "crypto-scholarship." Wills's attempt to emphasize the Scottish roots to the Papers runs counter to mainstream scholarship, which in our opinion he simply ignores. Kirkus also discerned "a diabolical blindness to the actual history surrounding the texts," and felt that Wills "wears his classics training on his sleeve." In short, we thought, "the point of the whole exercise still remains obscure."
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780140298390
  • Publisher: Penguin Group (USA) Incorporated
  • Publication date: 4/28/2001
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 886,126
  • Product dimensions: 5.24 (w) x 7.76 (h) x 0.72 (d)

Meet the Author

Garry Wills

Garry Wills is one of the most respected writers on religion today. He is the author of Saint Augustine’s Childhood, Saint Augustine’s Memory, and Saint Augustine’s Sin, the first three volumes in this series, as well as the Penguin Lives biography Saint Augustine. His other books include “Negro President”: Jefferson and the Slave Power, Why I Am a Catholic, Papal Sin, and Lincoln at Gettysburg, which won the Pulitzer Prize.

Biography

Born in Atlanta in 1934 and raised in the Midwest, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian and distinguished religion writer Garry Wills entered the Jesuit seminary after high school graduation, but left after six years of training. He received a B.A. from St. Louis University (1957), an M.A. from Xavier University of Cincinnati (1958), and his Ph.D. in classics from Yale (1961).

After graduating from Xavier, Wills was hired to work as the drama critic for National Review magazine, where he became a close personal friend and protégé of founding editor William F. Buckley. But as the winds of change blew across the 1960s, Wills got caught up in the cross-currents. A staunch Catholic anti-Communist in his youth, he began to drift away from political conservatism, galvanized by the civil rights movement and the Vietnam debate. He parted ways with National Review and began writing for more liberal-leaning publications like Esquire and the New York Review of Books, a defection that left him slightly estranged from Buckley for many years. (They reconciled before Buckley's death in 2008.)

In 1961, while he was still in grad school, Wills's first book, Chesterton: Man and Mask was published. [It was revised and reissued in 2001 with a new author's introduction.] Since then, the prolific Wills has gone on to pen critically acclaimed nonfiction that roams across history, politics, and religion. He expanded one of his Esquire articles into Nixon Agonistes (1970), a probing profile John Leonard said "...reads like a combination of H. L. Mencken, John Locke and Albert Camus." (The book landed Wills on the famous Nixon's Enemies List.) He has also written penetrating studies of George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, John Wayne, and Saint Paul; he has won two National Book Critics Circle Awards; and his 1992 book Lincoln at Gettysburg: The Words That Remade America was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for General Nonfiction.

Something of a rara avis, Wills is a Catholic intellectual who has produced thoughtful, scholarly books on religion in America. His translations of St. Augustine have received glowing reviews, and he has acted both as an outspoken critic of the Church (Papal Sin) and as an ardent advocate for his own faith Why I Am a Catholic). Proof of his accessibility can be found in the fact that several of his religion books have become bestsellers.

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    1. Date of Birth:
      May 22, 1934
    2. Place of Birth:
      Atlanta, GA
    1. Education:
      St. Louis University, B.A., 1957; Xavier University, M.A., 1958; Yale University, Ph.D., 1961

Table of Contents

Introduction
Prologue

Part One: The "Hamiltonian" Madison
1. Annapolis
2. Nassau Hall
3. Opinion
4. Corruption
5. Construction

Part Two: The "Madisonian" Hamilton
6. Annapolis
7. King's College
8. Commerce
9. Passions
10. Monarchy

Part Three: Checks and Balances (No. 51)
11. Mixed Government
12. Separated Powers
13. Checks
14. Legislative Supremacy: Hamilton
15. Judicial Review: Hamilton
16. Celebrated Maxim
17. Judicial Review: Madison
18. Legislative Supremacy: Madison
19. Sovereignty
20. Federalism

Part Four: Representation (No. 10)
21. Genius of the People
22. Virtue
23. Faction
24. Interest
25. Party
26. Extent of Territory
27. To Refine...
28. ...and Enlarge
29. Diffusive Character
30. The Third Publius
31. Accuracy

Epilogue
Key to Brief Citations
Topic Outline of The Federalist
Index to Federalist Numbers
Index to Phrases (No. 10)
Glossary
Index to Proper Names

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