A well-argued examination of the nation’s founding principles.



Founding Fathers worried over inequality, popular sovereignty, and economic growth.

Controversy over the meaning of the Constitution, the powers of the presidency, and the reach of federal government; concern about the political influence of wealthy citizens and corruption among elected officials; questions about the effects of tariffs on economic stability—these issues that beset contemporary America began in its earliest days. Focusing on James Madison (1751-1836) and Alexander Hamilton (1757-1804), Weekly Standard contributing editor Cost (A Republic No More: Big Government and the Rise of American Political Corruption, 2015, etc.) offers a revealing look at how their contrasting political philosophies shaped the new nation’s domestic and foreign policies. Although they eventually became fierce opponents, Madison and Hamilton began as allies, sharing a belief “that people were easily led astray by selfish interests that undermined the cause of good government.” State oversight could not be trusted to rein in opportunism and greed. Their proposals for fostering a strong federal government, however, were at odds: Hamilton envisioned a system emulating Britain’s, where senators, appointed by an electoral college, would serve for life, as would the president. Only members of the House would serve three-year terms. The “natural aristocracy” would be drawn from wealthy men, who, merely by virtue of their wealth, had proven their talent for leadership. He proposed a strategy of mediation whereby “individual factions within society would receive direct benefits from the government” in the expectation that they would invigorate the economy and therefore benefit the whole nation by growing its industries. Madison, on the other hand, saw a society dominated by agriculture, “populated by able-bodied, independent farmers.” Deeply suspicious of warring factions, he proposed two chambers of Congress, apportioned according to population, with the power to veto state laws. Madison’s views were held by Republicans, including Jefferson and James Monroe; Hamilton’s, by Federalists, including Washington and John Adams. All recognized the difficulty of balancing nationalism, liberalism, and republicanism, and all saw the risk of factions usurping popular sovereignty.

A well-argued examination of the nation’s founding principles.

Pub Date: June 5, 2018

ISBN: 978-1-5416-9746-1

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: April 3, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2018

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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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However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.


Maya Angelou is a natural writer with an inordinate sense of life and she has written an exceptional autobiographical narrative which retrieves her first sixteen years from "the general darkness just beyond the great blinkers of childhood."

Her story is told in scenes, ineluctably moving scenes, from the time when she and her brother were sent by her fancy living parents to Stamps, Arkansas, and a grandmother who had the local Store. Displaced they were and "If growing up is painful for the Southern Black girl, being aware of her displacement is the rust on the razor that threatens the throat." But alternating with all the pain and terror (her rape at the age of eight when in St. Louis With her mother) and humiliation (a brief spell in the kitchen of a white woman who refused to remember her name) and fear (of a lynching—and the time they buried afflicted Uncle Willie under a blanket of vegetables) as well as all the unanswered and unanswerable questions, there are affirmative memories and moments: her charming brother Bailey; her own "unshakable God"; a revival meeting in a tent; her 8th grade graduation; and at the end, when she's sixteen, the birth of a baby. Times When as she says "It seemed that the peace of a day's ending was an assurance that the covenant God made with children, Negroes and the crippled was still in effect."

However charily one should apply the word, a beautiful book, an unconditionally involving memoir for our time or any time.

Pub Date: Feb. 1, 1969

ISBN: 0375507892

Page Count: 235

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: May 14, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1969

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