A lucid defense of the Constitution, full of contextual information to supplement and broaden basic knowledge.

Seven Reasons to Love the Constitution


A well-timed refresher course on the forces at play in the conception, ratification, and amendment of this revered (and sometimes reviled) document.

Don’t be deceived by the catchy title; this is not one of those cutesy lists from Buzzfeed or other social media outlets. It is a well-documented treatise on the importance of the Constitution that includes 18 pages of sources and 230 endnotes. All too often in our schools, study of the Constitution involves rote memorization of the end result. As Kurdas (Ponzi Regulation, 2014, etc.) ably demonstrates, however, it is not monolithic, but instead the product of great compromise among the founders of the nation: “They negotiated between North and South, states and federal power, freedom and governance, popular will and elite authority, bureaucrats and elected officers, race and union, national glory and individual wellbeing.” The author is at her best in such moments; she displays a sharp talent for concise renderings of complex matters. Of special interest are the final two chapters, which address the treatment of Native Americans and the issue of slavery as areas where the Constitution has been severely tested. With regard to the former, she summarizes: “In the sorry history of Indians versus the U.S., Jeffersonian-Jacksonian democracy proved to be oppressive, and only that creature of the Adamsite balance of powers, Marshall’s Court, supported the justice of Indian claims.” This sentence may seem daunting out of context, but attentive readers, led by the framework Kurdas has constructed, will make the necessary connections and understand its meaning. It is also in this section that the author devotes considerable space to Sam Houston, a unique figure whose role in history is perhaps not as well-known as it should be outside of Texas. If there is a drawback in this work, it appears right at the end, when Kurdas considers the current political climate and reveals her views on the debates surrounding the Second Amendment (should be defended at all costs with no room for compromise) or same-sex marriage (should be decided by a popular vote). To her credit, up until this point, she keeps her analysis relatively evenhanded, which is not an easy thing to do.

A lucid defense of the Constitution, full of contextual information to supplement and broaden basic knowledge.

Pub Date: Oct. 13, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-5376-8408-6

Page Count: 218

Publisher: CreateSpace

Review Posted Online: Dec. 6, 2016

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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