When the stories that lead our daily news involve momentous constitutional questions, present-minded journalists and busy citizens cannot always see the stakes clearly. In The Constitution Today, Akhil Reed Amar, America's preeminent constitutional scholar, considers the biggest and most bitterly contested debates of the last two decades - from gun control to gay marriage, affirmative action to criminal procedure, presidential dynasties to Congressional dysfunction, Bill Clinton's impeachment to Obamacare. He shows how the Constitution's text, history, and structure are a crucial repository of collective wisdom, providing specific rules and grand themes relevant to every organ of the American body politic.
Leading listeners through the particular constitutional questions at stake in each episode while outlining his abiding views regarding the Constitution's letter, its spirit, and the direction constitutional law must go, Amar offers an essential guide for anyone seeking to understand America's Constitution and its relevance today.
©2016 Akhil Reed Amar (P)2016 Tantor
Anyone interested in a careful scholar's view of the Constitution's relevance to modern life should read this book. I admit agreeing with the author more than not, but his careful scholarship and Constitutional analysis, demands respect.
The book will not engage true constitutional scholars, or so I suspect (their loss). Professor Amar writes with the informed and interested citizen in mind. But a political polemic it is not. Amar explains his understanding of Constitutional reasoning and in a series of overviews to previously published articles (and those articles), shows how ordinary voters can be taught constitutional concepts. He also does not take the easy out -- saying that all controversies have two equal or nearly equal constitutional arguments. For example, Dred Scott was wrong. While people defend positions and their arguments should be addressed respectfully and defeated decisively.
As a reader, there will likely be moments when you want to say "I don't think so" to what you are reading. Some of the arguments and analysis here raised my eyebrows or furrowed my brow. But on the whole, just about all of us can profit from reading this book.
The title is misleading. Yes, there is content relating to the title, but this, unlike the other books by Amar I have read and enjoyed, which dug well into history and scholarly context, is far more personalized and journalistic. It is apparently compiled from more journalistic writings. And there is far too much Amar here, emerging from the background in a way I have no desire to contemplate. Dude, I'm interested in the Constitution, that's what I'm here for, and not your ephemeral image and feelings and experiences and political opinions.
Your personal trivia is sub-zero interesting. You are another bland nerd, OK? I'll follow through and complete this, but I am in no hurry.
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