Tartakovsky brings to life their struggles over our supreme law from its origins in revolutionary America to the era of Obama and Trump. Sweeping from settings as diverse as Gold Rush California to the halls of Congress, and crowded with a vivid Dickensian cast, Tartakovsky shows how America’s unique constitutional culture grapples with questions like democracy, racial and sexual equality, free speech, economic liberty, and the role of government.
Joining the ranks of other great American storytellers, Tartakovsky chronicles how Daniel Webster sought to avert the Civil War; how Alexis de Tocqueville misunderstood America; how Robert Jackson balanced liberty and order in the battle against Nazism and Communism; and how Antonin Scalia died warning Americans about the ever-growing reach of the Supreme Court.
From the 1787 Philadelphia Convention to the clash over gay marriage, this is a grand tour through two centuries of constitutional history as never told before, and an education in the principles that sustain America in the most astonishing experiment in government ever undertaken.
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|Age Range:||18 Years|
About the Author
Table of Contents
Overture: The Constitution's Third Century ix
1 Alexander Hamilton: A War Ends and a Constitution Begins 3
2 James Wilson: The Philosopher of Philadelphia 27
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
6 Woodrow Wilson : The President of the Progressives 121
7 Ida B. Wells-Barnett: Rights after Reconstruction to the Jazz Age 147
8 Robert H. Jackson: New Deals and World Wars 173
9 Antonin Scalia: The Dead Democracy 197
Finale: The Experiment Endures 221
What People are Saying About This
“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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
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.