Pulitzer Prize, History, 1997
What did the US Constitution originally mean, and how can we recover the intentions of its framers? These questions, which resound throughout today’s most heated legal and political controversies, lie at the heart of Jack N. Rakove’s splendidly readable work of historical analysis. In Original Meanings, he traces the complex weave of ideology and interests from which the Constitution emerged and shows how Americans have attached different meanings to their founding document from the moment it was published.
Original Meanings examines the classic issues that the framers of the Constitution had to solve: federalism, representation, executive power, individual rights, and the idea that the Constitution itself should become supreme law. Rakove pays particular attention to James Madison, the Constitution’s presiding genius, whose brilliance shaped the document’s framing, ratification, and amendment. The result is a major work of reinterpretation that should be read by every student of American history, law, and politics.
“A deeply satisfying account of the political world from which the United States Constitution issued.” (New York Times Book Review)
“With exquisite skill…Rakove convincingly demonstrates how complicated the issue of original intent really is…A first-rate historian.” (Chicago Tribune)
“Rich, learned, and profound…fascinating reading.” (Boston Globe)
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Epistemological in its approach ...
Both sides of the story told
- S. Chapin