The Declaration of Independence is one of the most influential documents in modern history - the inspiration for what would become the most powerful democracy in the world. Indeed, at every stage of American history, the Declaration has been a touchstone for evaluating the legitimacy of legal, social, and political practices. Not only have civil rights activists drawn inspiration from its proclamation of inalienable rights, but individuals decrying a wide variety of governmental abuses have turned for support to the document's enumeration of British tyranny.
In this sweeping synthesis of the Declaration's impact on American life, ranging from 1776 to the present, Alexander Tsesis offers a deeply researched narrative that highlights the many surprising ways in which this document has influenced American politics, law, and society. The drafting of the Bill of Rights, the Reconstruction Amendments, the New Deal, the Civil Rights movement - all are heavily indebted to the Declaration's principles of representative government. Tsesis demonstrates that from the founding on, the Declaration has played a central role in American political and social advocacy, congressional debates, and presidential decisions. He focuses on how successive generations internalized, adapted, and interpreted its meaning, but he also shines a light on the many American failures to live up to the ideals enshrined in the document.
Based on extensive research from primary sources such as newspapers, diaries, letters, transcripts of speeches, and congressional records, For Liberty and Equality shows how our founding document shaped America through successive eras and why its influence has always been crucial to the nation and our way of life.
Would you recommend this book to a friend? Why or why not?
I recommend this book to mine enemies as well as my friends. Useful to know that it is okay to fall short of the glory as long as we start back working on the goal again. My concurrent reads are Flash Boys and Capital in the 21st Century.
What did you like best about this story?
Relatively compact exposition.
What didn’t you like about Robert O’Gorman’s performance?
What I liked was the clarity of diction. What I didn't like is a tone devoid of any color. The text is somewhat dry anyhow and a little enthusiasm in the recitation would have made it better to listen/read.
Did For Liberty and Equality inspire you to do anything?
Throw more bombs.
Any additional comments?
I need a reminder of the fact of American exceptionalism in the form of why we formed our particular government. I need it when it sometimes appears that our exceptionalism is greed and hyprocosy. This book may not have passion, but it does have facts about our history that need to be refreshed. Read it for your soul.
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