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Publisher's Summary

Widely acclaimed at the time of its publication, the life story of the most controversial, volatile, misunderstood provision of the Bill of Rights.

At a time of increasing gun violence in America, Waldman's book provoked a wide range of discussion. This book looks at history to provide some surprising, illuminating answers. 

The Amendment was written to calm public fear that the new national government would crush the state militias made up of all (white) adult men - who were required to own a gun to serve. Waldman recounts the raucous public debate that has surrounded the amendment from its inception to the present. As the country spread to the Western frontier, violence spread too. But through it all, gun control was abundant. In the 20th century, with Prohibition and gangsterism, the first federal control laws were passed. In all four separate times the Supreme Court ruled against a constitutional right to own a gun. 

The present debate picked up in the 1970s-part of a backlash to the liberal 1960s and a resurgence of libertarianism. A newly radicalized NRA entered the campaign to oppose gun control and elevate the status of an obscure constitutional provision. In 2008, in a case that reached the Court after a focused drive by conservative lawyers, the US Supreme Court ruled for the first time that the Constitution protects an individual right to gun ownership. Famous for his theory of "originalism," Justice Antonin Scalia twisted it in this instance to base his argument on contemporary conditions. 

In The Second Amendment: A Biography, Michael Waldman shows that our view of the amendment is set, at each stage, not by a pristine constitutional text, but by the push and pull, the rough and tumble of political advocacy and public agitation.

©2014 Michael Waldman (P)2018 Tantor

What listeners say about The Second Amendment

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Surprisingly fair

This book is an excellent review of Second Amendment history. Though the narrative does lean a little bit to the left at times, I still think it was fair, based on my study and fact checking.

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Excellent history of the second amendment

A great listen for anyone concerned about the gun debate and the second amendment, and a excellent history altogether. Thanks

1 person found this helpful

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A closet Progressive disguised at “non-Partisan”

I should have done my homework on Michael Waldman. The content is very clearly biased towards Progressive thought (I.e. how restrictive firearm laws are constitutional) and goes to extra efforts to skewer Justice Scalia and other Justices who don’t walk the Progressive line on Constitution interpretation. I was looking for a neutral, insightful read on the 2nd amendment but Waldman just couldn’t help himself in keeping it unbiased. Don’t waste your $$$$.

14 people found this helpful

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My Opinion On This Book

I found the book to be quite informative. I found out things I hadn't known prior to listening to it. I can recommend this book to historians and 2nd Amendment enthusiasts. There, at times, when the book, while listening, where it got a bit long. I mean, my mind would stray from time to time. Other than that, It is a good listening book.

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Strong liberal bias but a good book

The author doesn’t try to hide his political leaning but no less an engrossing book on the history of the 2nd amendment.

1 person found this helpful