Book Reviews

The Heritage Guide to the Constitution 
by  Edwin Meese, Matthew Spalding and David F. Forte 

Many Americans carry a copy of the Constitution. No one will want to lug around The Heritage Guide to the Constitution, but the book is an indispensable reference companion. The first words read, “The Heritage Guide to the Constitution is intended to provide a brief and accurate explanation of each clause of the Constitution as envisioned by the Framers and as applied in contemporary law.” It achieves this goal admirably. As you would expect from the Heritage Foundation, this is an Originalist reference book, and the editors have done an excellent job of explaining the Constitution as envisioned by the Framers, but it also explains the Constitution as applied in contemporary law. 

Decision in Philadelphia, The Constitutional Convention of 1787

By Christopher Collier and James Lincoln Collier

This is one of the best history books on the Constitutional Convention. Historians tend to approach the convention either chronologically or by issue. Decision in Philadelphia covers the convention primarily by issue. Since the convention debates often wandered, this is a a better way to get a good grasp of the process and the results.

Cato Institute
If you want to understand how the Constitution became a shadow of its former self, The Dirty Dozen is an excellent place to start. Levy and Mellor chose twelve modern Supreme Court cases that improperly altered the fundamental meaning of the supreme law of the land. The title is a bit of a misnomer because the book actually covers a baker’s dozen of cases, plus numerous dishonorable mentions. The Dirty Dozen has dedicated a full chapter to each of the twelve cases, plus a couple of postscripts.

conservative principles, political scienceIn Ameritopia, Levin pits utopian ideologists against republican theorists who champion the individual. The book is a compact survey course in government theory from Plato to Tocqueville. Plato, Thomas More, Thomas Hobbes, and Karl Marx are presented in Part I on Utopianism. John Locke, Charles de Montesquieu, Alexis de Tocqueville make up the team on the right, so to speak. In the first two sections, Levin lets each of these men speak for themselves, with long quotes interrupted only by an occasional sentence or two. Even when Levin writes his mind in Part III, he remains almost detached and academic. This is a serious analysis of opposing theories on how man ought to be ruled; either by an all-powerful state or by self-rule with a heavy reliance on individualism.
by David McCullough

Harry Truman is an interesting character, and David McCullough presents an engaging portrait of our 33rd president. McCullough is thorough and readable as he presents a chronological narrative of Truman’s life. Although a credentialed historian, McCullough avoids academic gobbledygook and knows when to end a sentence. He writes in a clean, straightforward fashion that invites the reader to turn the page.

by James D. Best

Constitutional convention"If you want to know the truth about the greatest documents ever created by man---the Constitution of the United States---relax in your bed, favorite chair or recliner, and enjoy."—Allen Ball, Beaufort Observer

"The novel captures the real drama that ensued behind closed doors. Read it for its historical value. Read it for its dramatic value. But read it!"Alan Caruba, Bookviews

by James D. Best
political science

"There is no more important time to learn the how and why of the founding of our great republic. This highly readable book is a very good place to start." Alan Caruba, Bookviews

"Principled Action provides an excellent analysis of the American Founding and what made it unique. " Martin at What Would The Founders Think?

by Richard Miniter

Richard Miniter's writing has the crisp style of an experienced journalist. This straightforward narrative is easy to follow except for the daunting Arabic names. Some like to dismiss our Constitution by saying that it’s too old to deal with things like modern-day terrorism. The Founders had to handle unrest, political intrigue, and treason. Benedict ArnoldThe Newburgh ConspiracyShay’s Rebellion, the Whiskey RebellionBarbary pirates, and the Aaron Burr Conspiracy are only a few examples. How would the Founders have handled Khalid Shaikh Mohammed? No one can say for sure, but they certainly would have decided how to punish him in less than eight years.

by Glenn Beck

Miracles and Massacres explains underplayed episodes of American history in an engaging story format. I was a contributing draft writer on the project. When I was approached to assist with Beck’s new book, I accepted because Beck insisted that Miracles and Massacres would tell it like it really was. It was a fun experience, and the final product is unique. 

by M. Stanton Evans and Herbert Romerstein

This is a good survey of mid-20th century history, but I was hoping for some new and grander revelations. Most of what is reported has already been addressed in other books, and some of the authors' opinions while probably true, are unsubstantiated. The title is also hyperbole meant to sell books. Stalin's Secret Agents is actually a more serious history book than the sensational title would suggest.

Freedom’s Forge, How American Business Produced Victory in World War II 

by Author Herman

Freedom’s Forge, How American Business Produced Victory in World War II by Arthur Herman does an excellent job of describing the shift from an anti-business bias to acquiescence of capitalism during Roosevelt’s third term. The new tolerance of a profit motive had a huge impact on the production of war materials. The United States manufactured two-thirds of all weapons and supplies used by the Allies, “yet the output of consumer goods was larger every war year than it had been in 1939, despite the restrictions and rationing. In 1945 Americans ate more meat, bought more shoes and gasoline, and used more electricity than they had before Hitler invaded France … total economic production in the United States had doubled; wages rose by 70 percent.”

by Craig Shirley

I grew up enthralled with Theodore White’s Making of the President series. Shirley’s book does not measure up to White, but that has more to do with White’s mastery than with Shirley’s shortcomings. With White no longer with us, I’m glad Shirley has picked up the mantleat least for Ronald Reagan’s campaigns.

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