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Constitutional Myths: What We Get Wrong and How to Get It Right
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Published:
The New Press 2013
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Available from OverDrive
Description

Americans on both sides of the aisle love to reference the Constitution as the ultimate source of truth. But which truth? What did the framers really have in mind? In a book that author R.B. Bernstein calls “essential reading," acclaimed historian Ray Raphael places the Constitution in its historical context, dispensing little-known facts and debunking popular preconceived notions.
For each myth, Raphael first notes the kernel of truth it represents, since most myths have some basis in fact. Then he presents a big “BUT"—the larger context that reveals what the myth distorts. What did the framers see as the true role of government? What did they think of taxes? At the Constitutional Convention, how did they mix principles with politics? Did James Madison really father the Constitution? Did the framers promote a Bill of Rights? Do the so-called Federalist Papers reveal the Constitution's inner meaning?
An authoritative and entertaining book, which “should appeal equally to armchair historians and professionals in the field" (Booklist), Constitutional Myths reveals what our founding document really says and how we should apply it today.

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Format:
Adobe EPUB eBook, Kindle Book, OverDrive Read
Street Date:
03/05/2013
Language:
English
ISBN:
9781595588388
ASIN:
B00B0SAMLS
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Citations
APA Citation (style guide)

Ray Raphael. (2013). Constitutional Myths: What We Get Wrong and How to Get It Right. The New Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Author Date Citation (style guide)

Ray Raphael. 2013. Constitutional Myths: What We Get Wrong and How to Get It Right. The New Press.

Chicago / Turabian - Humanities Citation (style guide)

Ray Raphael, Constitutional Myths: What We Get Wrong and How to Get It Right. The New Press, 2013.

MLA Citation (style guide)

Ray Raphael. Constitutional Myths: What We Get Wrong and How to Get It Right. The New Press, 2013. Web.

Note! Citation formats are based on standards as of July 2010. Citations contain only title, author, edition, publisher, and year published. Citations should be used as a guideline and should be double checked for accuracy.
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      • bioText:
        Ray Raphael is a Senior Research Fellow with Humboldt State University in Northern California. His sixteen books include A People’s History of the American Revolution; Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past; and Mr. President: How and Why the Founders Created a Chief Executive.
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Americans of late have taken to waving the Constitution in the air and proclaiming, "The founders were on MY side! See, it’s all right here!" But these phantom constitutions bear little relation to the historical one.

By entering the world of the Constitution’s framers, and experiencing it one day after the next as they did, Ray Raphael helps us understand how and why they created the document they did. Casting aside preconceptions and commonly held beliefs, he asks provocative questions that get to the heart of the document and its purposes: Was the aim of the Constitution really to limit government? Why didn’t the framers include a Bill of Rights? Did they hate taxes? Was James Madison actually the "Father of the Constitution," as proclaimed in our textbooks? Can we find the true meaning of the Constitution by reading The Federalist Papers or by revealing the framers' "original intent"? The answers to these questions are bound to surprise and...
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title
Constitutional Myths
fullDescription

Americans on both sides of the aisle love to reference the Constitution as the ultimate source of truth. But which truth? What did the framers really have in mind? In a book that author R.B. Bernstein calls “essential reading," acclaimed historian Ray Raphael places the Constitution in its historical context, dispensing little-known facts and debunking popular preconceived notions.
For each myth, Raphael first notes the kernel of truth it represents, since most myths have some basis in fact. Then he presents a big “BUT"—the larger context that reveals what the myth distorts. What did the framers see as the true role of government? What did they think of taxes? At the Constitutional Convention, how did they mix principles with politics? Did James Madison really father the Constitution? Did the framers promote a Bill of Rights? Do the so-called Federalist Papers reveal the Constitution's inner meaning?
An authoritative and entertaining book, which “should appeal equally to armchair historians and professionals in the field" (Booklist), Constitutional Myths reveals what our founding document really says and how we should apply it today.

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      • premium: False
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        Praise for Constitutional Myths:
        "Take off your rose-colored glasses, people: The Founding Fathers embraced a strong federal government, at the risk of falling into anarchy and disintegration. Therein lies the kernel of the author's readable demystification of some of the ongoing crusades by conservatives touting the supremacy of “originalism."...With documents amply provided at the close of the text, Raphael provides a truly accessible teaching tool."

      • premium: False
      • source: Edward J. Larson, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of A Magnificent Catastrophe
      • content: "Wonderfully lucid and highly informative."
      • premium: False
      • source: Political Science Quarterly
      • content: “[A]n adept corrective to some of the most strident imbalances in contemporary debates over the implications of the Founding."
      • premium: False
      • source: Richard R. Beeman, author of Plain Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution.
      • content: “An extraordinarily important and nuanced work of history that places the Constitution, and the men who created it, in their proper eighteenth-century context."
      • premium: True
      • source: Publisher's Weekly
      • content:

        March 25, 2013
        As bitter partisanship continues to engulf American politics and society, it is with some relief that one opens Raphael's study of the historical Constitution to find a text more concerned with contextualizing the Founder Fathers than in interpreting them. One by one, Raphael (Founders) addresses some of the more pervasive interpretations of the Constitution and the men who crafted it: that the Framers opposed a strong federal government and taxation; that the Federalist Papers and the Bill of Rights were central texts to the Founding Fathers; that James Madison was the architect of the Constitution, culminating in a criticism of Originalism—the principle, held most prominently by Justices Scalia and Thomas, that the Constitution ought be interpreted according to the Framers' "original intent". Through careful analysis of the 1787 Constitutional Convention, Raphael demonstrates that nothing about the Constitution is as simple as contemporary discourse makes it seem; though many of the Framers came to the Convention with lofty ideals and ambitions, Raphael shows how they were constantly forced into pragmatic and ambiguous compromises. Though his diligent research is unlikely to sway originalists, libertarians, small government advocates, Raphael provides a counter argument that relies on historical record rather than ideology.

      • premium: True
      • source: Kirkus
      • content:

        February 15, 2013
        In his latest populist reality check, Raphael (Mr. President: How and Why the Founders Created a Chief Executive, 2012, etc.) demonstrates how objectively studying the original broken political system lends insight into ours. Take off your rose-colored glasses, people: The Founding Fathers embraced a strong federal government, at the risk of falling into anarchy and disintegration. Therein lies the kernel of the author's readable demystification of some of the ongoing crusades by conservatives touting the supremacy of "originalism." From the beginning, the fledgling republic was plagued by what George Washington observed as "illiberality, jealousy & local policy" by the states' tendentious representatives in Congress under the Articles of Confederation. The Articles were scrapped, and so-called nationalists like Washington, Robert Morris, John Jay, James Madison and Alexander Hamilton pushed for a "national and supreme" government with teeth to provide for the common defense and levy taxes--albeit with plenty of argument about direct taxation. Raphael reminds us that the tax burden was allowed "to fall more heavily on the rich...a long-standing tradition dating back to early colonial times." Thanks to the notes taken by Madison, whom Raphael elegantly calls the "scribe" of the Constitution rather than its "father," we see the roiling jealousies and bickering of the delegates in Philadelphia in 1787--e.g., in the battle between small states and large states over representation and in the manner of selecting a president, among other things. Raphael carefully sifts through the subsequent Federalist Papers delineating the ratification debate, and he shows the framers' fluidity of argument, rather than inflexibility. With documents amply provided at the close of the text, Raphael provides a truly accessible teaching tool.

        COPYRIGHT(2013) Kirkus Reviews, ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.

subtitle
What We Get Wrong and How to Get It Right
popularity
23
publisher
The New Press
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