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    The Powell's Playlist | February 27, 2015

    Kazuo Ishiguro: IMG Kazuo Ishiguro's Playlist for The Buried Giant

    The eight songs on this playlist didn't "inspire" The Buried Giant, nor did I play them out loud while writing. And with the notable exception of... Continue »
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      The Buried Giant

      Kazuo Ishiguro 9780307271037

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1 Beaverton US History- Documents

America's Constitution: A Biography


America's Constitution: A Biography Cover


Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

In Americas Constitution, one of this eras most accomplished constitutional law scholars, Akhil Reed Amar, gives the first comprehensive account of one of the worlds great political texts. Incisive, entertaining, and occasionally controversial, this “biography” of Americas framing document explains not only what the Constitution says but also why the Constitution says it.

We all know this much: the Constitution is neither immutable nor perfect. Amar shows us how the story of this one relatively compact document reflects the story of America more generally. (For example, much of the Constitution, including the glorious-sounding “We the People,” was lifted from existing American legal texts, including early state constitutions.) In short, the Constitution was as much a product of its environment as it was a product of its individual creators inspired genius.

Despite the Constitutions flaws, its role in guiding our republic has been nothing short of amazing. Skillfully placing the document in the context of late-eighteenth-century American politics, Americas Constitution explains, for instance, whether there is anything in the Constitution that is unamendable; the reason America adopted an electoral college; why a president must be at least thirty-five years old; and why-for now, at least-only those citizens who were born under the American flag can become president.

From his unique perspective, Amar also gives us unconventional wisdom about the Constitution and its significance throughout the nations history. For one thing, we see that the Constitution has been far more democratic than is conventionally understood. Even though the document was drafted by white landholders, a remarkably large number of citizens (by the standards of 1787) were allowed to vote up or down on it, and the documents later amendments eventually extended the vote to virtually all Americans.

We also learn that the Founders Constitution was far more slavocratic than many would acknowledge: the “three fifths” clause gave the South extra political clout for every slave it owned or acquired. As a result, slaveholding Virginians held the presidency all but four of the Republics first thirty-six years, and proslavery forces eventually came to dominate much of the federal government prior to Lincolns election.

Ambitious, even-handed, eminently accessible, and often surprising, Americas Constitution is an indispensable work, bound to become a standard reference for any student of history and all citizens of the United States.

From the Hardcover edition.


The author, a member of the Yale Law School faculty, presents a provocative examination of the historical forces--some quite surprising--that have molded the U.S. Constitution.

About the Author

Akhil Reed Amar graduated from Yale College and Yale Law School, and has been a member of the Yale Law School faculty since 1985. He is the author of The Bill of Rights: Creation and Reconstruction and has written widely on constitutional issues for The New York Times, The Washington Post, and Los Angeles Times. He lives in Woodbridge, Connecticut, with his wife and three children.

From the Hardcover edition.

Product Details

Amar, Akhil Reed
Random House Trade
United States - General
Government - U.S. Government
United states
Constitutional history
Constitutional history -- United States.
Politics - General
Edition Description:
Trade paper
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
9.1 x 6.1 x 1.4 in 1.45 lb

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Related Subjects

Business » Business Law
History and Social Science » Law » Constitutional Law
History and Social Science » Law » General
History and Social Science » Politics » General
History and Social Science » US History » Documents
History and Social Science » US History » General

America's Constitution: A Biography Used Trade Paper
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Product details 672 pages Random House Trade - English 9780812972726 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by , The author, a member of the Yale Law School faculty, presents a provocative examination of the historical forces--some quite surprising--that have molded the U.S. Constitution.
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