The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution

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Overview

Updated now for the first time, THE WORDS WE LIVE BY continues to take an entertaining and informative look at America's most important historical document, now with discussions on new rulings on hot button issues such as immigration, gay marriage, and affirmative action.

In THE WORDS WE LIVE BY, Linda Monk probes the idea that the Constitution may seem to offer cut-and-dried answers to questions regarding personal rights, but the interpretations of this hallowed document are ...

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Overview

Updated now for the first time, THE WORDS WE LIVE BY continues to take an entertaining and informative look at America's most important historical document, now with discussions on new rulings on hot button issues such as immigration, gay marriage, and affirmative action.

In THE WORDS WE LIVE BY, Linda Monk probes the idea that the Constitution may seem to offer cut-and-dried answers to questions regarding personal rights, but the interpretations of this hallowed document are nearly infinite. For example, in the debate over gun control, does "the right of the people to bear arms" as stated in the Second Amendment pertain to individual citizens or regulated militias? What do scholars say? Should the Internet be regulated and censored, or does this impinge on the freedom of speech as defined in the First Amendment? These and other issues vary depending on the interpretation of the Constitution.

Through entertaining and informative annotations, THE WORDS WE LIVE BY offers a new way of looking at the Constitution. Its pages reflect a critical, respectful and appreciative look at one of history's greatest documents. THE WORDS WE LIVE BY is filled with a rich and engaging historical perspective along with enough surprises and fascinating facts and illustrations to prove that your Constitution is a living—and entertaining—document.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"In THE WORDS WE LIVE BY, Linda Monk has created a treasure—a wonderfully accessible yet deeply insightful guide to our Constitution which should be read and enjoyed by a wide audience of old and young alike."—Doris Kearns Goodwin, Pulitzer Prize-winning author

"Linda Monk takes us on a lively and learned exploration of the document that underlies not only how we Americans govern ourselves but how we make sense of the world. Anyone reading THE WORDS WE LIVE BY will finish it with a greater understanding of the Constitution and a new respect for how it has secured freedom and self-government for the last two centuries."—Steve Chapman, syndicated columnist, Chicago Tribune

"Linda Monk has brought the Constitution to life with a book that is authoritative, compelling and even entertaining. She captures just the right blend of history and current events to help us understand why the Constitution is America's cornerstone of freedom."—Charles Overby, Chairman of the Freedom Forum and Pulitzer Prize-winning newspaper editor

Publishers Weekly
The U.S. Constitution gets a comprehensive overview in this engaging blend of history and commentary. Monk, author of The Bill of Rights: A User's Guide, traces the history and consequences of each part of this vital document in a line-by-line analysis of the original seven articles and the 27 amendments. Drawing on the writings of constitutional scholars, Supreme Court Justices and concerned citizens like Charlton Heston, playwright Arthur Miller and rock star Ted Nugent, she also gives even-handed but lively accounts of the debates over such Constitutional controversies as the right to bear arms, the right to privacy, church-state separation and capital punishment. The portrait of the Constitution that emerges is a mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous. Some parts, like the Civil War amendments that defined citizenship and equality in granting them to African-Americans, are terse milestones in our evolving understanding of freedom, while elsewhere the Constitution seems like a scratch-pad for ill-considered ideas like the hastily repealed Prohibition Amendment. Monk avoids comparisons with other countries' charters that might have illuminated the Constitution's idiosyncrasies, and skirts deeper critiques, like Daniel Lazare's argument that the Constitution's overall structure of states' rights, separation of powers and checks and balances hobbles rather than effectuates the will of the people. Still, this is a fine introduction to Constitutional history for a general readership laid out rather like a good social studies textbook. Illus. (Feb.) Copyright 2003 Cahners Business Information.
KLIATT
Law school graduate and ABA prize winner Linda Monk has produced an amazingly informative and entertaining handbook on the Constitution. Here the reader will find first the complete text of the Constitution; secondly, a phrase-by-phrase explanation of the intention and history of the document complete with vocabulary in the side margin; and thirdly, inset pictures and quotations across more than 200 years of reaction and commentary ranging from Benjamin Franklin to Charlton Heston, from John Marshall to Sandra Day O'Connor, from Herblock to Boondocks. Here too is a history of the court cases which, since the beginning, have shaped our interpretation of the Constitution, each considered in the context of the article to which it relates. The page layout is excellent. Altogether, a useful reference work that could also be a text. KLIATT Codes: JSA*—Exceptional book, recommended for junior and senior high school students, advanced students, and adults. 2003, Hyperion, 288p. notes. bibliog. index., Ages 12 to adult.
—Pat Moore
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780786886203
  • Publisher: Hyperion
  • Publication date: 2/28/2004
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 288
  • Sales rank: 47,936
  • Lexile: 1340L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 8.92 (w) x 7.02 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet the Author

Linda R. Monk is a constitutional scholar, journalist, and award-winning author. She has twice won the American Bar Association's Silver Gavel Award, its highest honor for public education about law. A graduate of Harvard Law School, Monk has written numerous articles for newspapers nationwide including the New York Times, Washington Post, and Chicago Tribune. She also served as series advisor for the PBS program "Constitution USA."

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Table of Contents

The Constitution as conversation 9
Pt. I The Constitution of the United States 10
The Preamble : we the people 11
Article I : the legislative branch 18
Article II : the executive branch 62
Article III : the judicial branch 89
Article IV : full faith and credit 104
Article V : amendments 112
Article VI : the supreme law of the land 118
Article VII : ratification 121
Pt. II Amendments to the Constitution of the United States 126
The first amendment : freedom of expression 127
The second amendment : the right to bear arms 151
The third amendment : quartering of troops 154
The fourth amendment : unreasonable searches and seizures 157
The fifth amendment : due process of law 164
The sixth amendment : the right to a fair trial 173
The seventh amendment : trial by jury in civil cases 181
The eighth amendment : cruel and unusual punishment 184
The ninth amendment : unenumerated rights 190
The tenth amendment : states' rights 194
The eleventh amendment : lawsuits against states 199
The twelfth amendment : choosing the executive 201
The thirteenth amendment : abolishing slavery 205
The fourteenth amendment : equal protection of the laws 212
The fifteenth amendment : suffrage for black men 229
The sixteenth amendment : income taxes 233
The seventeenth amendment : direct election of senators 234
The eighteenth amendment : prohibition 236
The nineteenth amendment : women's suffrage 238
The twentieth amendment : lame ducks 242
The twenty-first amendment : repealing prohibition 246
The twenty-second amendment : presidential term limits 249
The twenty-third amendment : electoral votes for the District of Columbia 251
The twenty-fourth amendment : banning the poll tax 253
The twenty-fifth amendment : presidential succession and disability 255
The twenty-sixth amendment : suffrage for young people 260
The twenty-seventh amendment : limiting congressional pay raises 261
To decide for ourselves what freedom is 263
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Customer Reviews

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( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted January 3, 2004

    Should be labeled 'Fiction'.

    As a student of the Constitution I have read many books about it over the years. This author takes an entirely new, very liberal view. It is filled with historical inaccuracies and polical-correctnes. My wife bought this for me as a Christmas present. Other than this book, it was a good Chrsitmas.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 31, 2003

    A Liberal Review

    This author has taken the Liberal view point about the Constitution. She wants more goverment involment in day to day activities of the citizens. She thinks that Clinton was exonerated. This is not an unbiased view of the Constitution.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 16, 2009

    This is an outstanding handbook on the Constitution. While it does not provide indepth legal analysis, it does provide a good starting point for going beyond the bare words of the document itself.

    I am a lawyer and Consitutional scholar. I have given several speeches on the origins and history of the constitution. I have looked for years for a good primmer which puts the basic language of the Constitution into historical context and traces the Supreme Court's interpretion and treatment of that language. One can then easily go on if necessary to find more indepth treatment of that language in the actual decisions of the court or in the progeny of the landmark decisions. The recent Heller decision is a good illustration. There is sparce mention of the Second ammendment in the history of the Constituion or in court decisions handed down since the ratification of the Bill of Rights. For many years a dabate raged over whether that Amendment established a private right to bear arms or whether the right only existed in the context of a Militia. While this book was copywrited in 2003, prior to the Heller decision, it's analysis as to what to anticipate in Heller was right on. This is the "little" book I have been looking for for years.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted August 28, 2011

    Highly Recommended Balanced Look at the Constitution

    I graduated from college in 1978 with bachlors degrees in political science and law enforcement. In the process of gaining those degrees, I suffered through countless hours of constitutional law courses. While it was kind of entertaining seeing the spin that my liberal poly sci and ultra conservative law enforcement instructors gave the same material it really wasn't very productive.

    Wandering thru Barnes and Noble last week, my wife (who also took the law enforcement verison of con law) turned up a copy of "The Words We Live By" and on a whim, I added it to my stack. I found it fascinating. The book brought the Constitution alive for me and corrected a number of misconceptions that I have carried for the last 3 decades.

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  • Posted July 2, 2009

    more from this reviewer

    A must to read!!

    Awesome book! Every American should at least read this book. Not enough Americans know the true make up of The Constitution.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2009

    A great look at the U.S. Constitution

    While I have yet to read the entire book, what I have read is great. Well written. Words we not only do live by, but words we SHOULD live by.

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  • Posted April 20, 2009

    It's the Constitution made easy.

    What a great book. Linda Monk really breaks things down bit by bit, Article by Article, and Amendment by Amendment.

    What I liked best was the use of Supreme Court decisions on Constitutional interpretation. While this may seem a logial step, outside of the legal community, many Americans may not really think about it. To have them in something outside of law school textbook and in something meant for everyone is exceptional.

    A really good feature, as well, is the use of sidebars and quotations of prominent Americans. They put things in context.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 6, 2004

    Great for All Ages

    The Words We Live By has become a standard reference in my household for my fourth and sixth grader. As my children have gone to the book for questions they have about the Constitution, I have read along with them. In my reading I have found much to admire about The Words We Live By. The writing is clean and crisp, and the author presents a balanced point of view about the constitution. The only agenda Linda Monk seems to have is for her reader to understand the Constitution of the United States. How many books could you pick up that would be praised by both Linda Chavez and Nat Hentoff?

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 5, 2004

    Interesting and Informative

    As a college student who is not politically-focused, and has enough required reading already, this was an easy book to pick up and read. By providing pictures, quotes, and defined terms in the margins, it makes it easy to learn- and helps to break up what can otherwise be a dull document, (The Constitution). In addition to explaining each section of the Constitution, Monk provides a balanced discription of the process by which the Constitution was created, including anecdotes when appropriate. I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the Constitution, or anyone who needs a new book for the bedside table.

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 31, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted March 14, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted August 23, 2009

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted June 20, 2009

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