The Lives of the Constitution: Ten Exceptional Minds that Shaped America's Supreme Law

The Lives of the Constitution: Ten Exceptional Minds that Shaped America's Supreme Law

by Joseph Tartakovsky

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781594039867
Publisher: Encounter Books
Publication date: 04/10/2018
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 578,812
File size: 5 MB
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Joseph Tartakovsky is the James Wilson Fellow in Constitutional Law at the Claremont Institute for the Study of Statesmanship and Political Philosophy. His writing has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Los Angeles Times, among other publications. As a lawyer, he has served as the Deputy Solicitor General of Nevada, a white-collar criminal litigator at an international law firm, and as a law clerk to a federal appellate judge.

Table of Contents

Overture: The Constitution's Third Century ix

Builders 1765-1804

1 Alexander Hamilton: A War Ends and a Constitution Begins 3

2 James Wilson: The Philosopher of Philadelphia 27

Fighters 1814-1897

3 Daniel Webster: The First Generation after the Founders 51

4 Stephen Field: Civil War and Uncivil Justice 71

Interlude from Abroad 1835-1888

5 Alexis de Tocqueville and James Bryce: Europe Visits at Mid-Century 95

Dreamers 1885-1931

6 Woodrow Wilson : The President of the Progressives 121

7 Ida B. Wells-Barnett: Rights after Reconstruction to the Jazz Age 147

Restorers 1934-2016

8 Robert H. Jackson: New Deals and World Wars 173

9 Antonin Scalia: The Dead Democracy 197

Finale: The Experiment Endures 221

Acknowledgments 227

Notes 229

Index 289

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher


“Part history, part biography, and part legal analysis, The Lives of the Constitution is a unique account of how the American Constitution over two centuries has both changed and yet remained the same. Tartakovsky combines his pragmatic expertise as Nevada's Deputy Solicitor General with insightful legal scholarship to show how traditional categories like ‘strict constructionist’ or ‘progressive’ do notalwaysreflect the unexpected ways in which the Constitution has both enriched America in times of evolutionary change and yet saved America from radical transformation. A wholly original approach and analysis.”


— Victor Davis Hanson, Senior Fellow, Classics and Military History, the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, author of The Second World Wars



The Lives of the Constitution is as supple, smart, and opinionated as the ten men and women it depicts. Joseph Tartakovsky will surprise and instruct you on every page.”


— Richard Brookhiser, author of Alexander Hamilton, American



“Avoiding legal jargon and sketching vivid, memorable portraits of his subjects, the author offers a scholarly yet accessible book to general audiences. Verdict: A thoughtful, clever work on how different generations have thought about the Constitution. Well worth the time of American history and law students.”


— Michael Eshleman, Library Journal, starred review



“[A] fascinating and lively way to recast the nation’s founding document.... [Tartakovsky] introduces a novel twist: The proper way to understand the Constitution is not simply to engage in historical exegesis or textual commentary, but to view it primarily as ‘a story of human beings….’ [He] is well served by his ability to communicate important points with an enviable brevity.… [I]t is a credit to Tartakovsky that he has reminded us of the vitality of our founding document in such a novel and unassuming way.”


— Jay Cost, National Review magazine



“The striking thing about Tartakovsky's book is its unflagging combination of deep Constitutional and historical wisdom, beautiful and elegant writing, occasional and appropriate lyricism, and the quality of easily leading the reader forward with the greatest enjoyment. His extraordinary talent is such that as a story teller he could take the baton from David McCullough or, as a jurist (if a future president has enough wisdom to appoint him to the Supreme Court), Antonin Scalia. Yes, he is that good.”


— Mark Helprin, author of Winter's Tale, A Soldier of the Great War, and most recently Paris in the Present Tense

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The Lives of the Constitution: Ten Exceptional Minds that Shaped America's Supreme Law 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
Robert-V More than 1 year ago
The Lives of the Constitution takes you on an engaging journey from the Founding to the present. Along this journey, author Joseph Tartakovsky introduces us to forgotten individuals who have had a great influence on the Constitution and our country, such as the "Forgotten Founder" James Wilson and suffragist and civil rights advocate Ida Wells-Barnett. Mr. Tartakovsky also reintroduces us to the lesser-known aspects of more well-known figures, such as Woodrow Wilson and Alexander Hamilton. His enthusiasm for the Constitution and its durability shines, and his readers, whether casual fans of history or scholars of the subject, are sure to learn something from every page.