The Words That Made Us: Book summary and reviews of The Words That Made Us by Akhil Reed Amar

The Words That Made Us

America's Constitutional Conversation, 1760-1840

by Akhil Reed Amar

The Words That Made Us by Akhil Reed Amar X
The Words That Made Us by Akhil Reed Amar
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Book Summary

A history of the American Constitution's formative decades from a preeminent legal scholar.

When the US Constitution won popular approval in 1788, it was the culmination of thirty years of passionate argument over the nature of government. But ratification hardly ended the conversation. For the next half century, ordinary Americans and statesmen alike continued to wrestle with weighty questions in the halls of government and in the pages of newspapers. Should the nation's borders be expanded? Should America allow slavery to spread westward? What rights should Indian nations hold? What was the proper role of the judicial branch?

In The Words that Made Us, Akhil Reed Amar unites history and law in a vivid narrative of the biggest constitutional questions early Americans confronted, and he expertly assesses the answers they offered. His account of the document's origins and consolidation is a guide for anyone seeking to properly understand America's Constitution today.

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Reviews

Media Reviews

"This is no arid exercise in legal theory: Amar ties searching constitutional analysis into a gripping narrative of war, popular tumults, political intrigue, and even fashion, highlighted by vivid profiles of statesmen...The result is a fresh, invigorating take on America's founding that puts epic deliberation at the heart of democracy." - Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"[E]xcellent...Brilliant insights into America's founding document." - Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

"Without princes or priests to impose it from above, America's Constitution evolved from an ongoing public conversation. In this timely and illuminating volume, constitutional historian Akhil Amar superbly unpacks the meaning of those words that continue to matter from the founding era. Highly recommended." - Edward J. Larson, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Summer for the Gods

"Akhil Amar masterfully tracks eighty years of words (and images)--urgent, sometimes angry, but always to the point. When lawless mobs, cheered by reckless pols, roam city streets and Capitol hallways, understanding our founding conversation is more important than ever." - Richard Brookhiser, author of Give Me Liberty: A History of America's Exceptional Idea

"Some see history as a series of separate events. Amar knows, and demonstrates brilliantly, that history overlaps itself, that at each stage we must find (or invent) a usable past from which to shove ourselves into the featureless future. How does one present such a complex back-and-forth use of the past to escape the past? This book shows how." - Garry Wills, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lincoln at Gettysburg

This information about The Words That Made Us shown above was first featured in "The BookBrowse Review" - BookBrowse's membership magazine, and in our weekly "Publishing This Week" newsletter. In most cases, the reviews are necessarily limited to those that were available to us ahead of publication. If you are the publisher or author and feel that the reviews shown do not properly reflect the range of media opinion now available, please send us a message with the mainstream media reviews that you would like to see added.

Any "Author Information" displayed below reflects the author's biography at the time this particular book was published.

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Author Information

Akhil Reed Amar

Akhil Reed Amar is the Sterling professor of law and political science at Yale University and the author of several books on constitutional law and history, including America's Constitution: A Biography and America's Unwritten Constitution. He lives in Woodbridge, Connecticut.

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