QUARRELS THAT HAVE SHAPED THE CONSTITUTION by John A.--Ed. Garraty

QUARRELS THAT HAVE SHAPED THE CONSTITUTION

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KIRKUS REVIEW

The year of the Constitution continues apace as does the publication of books in commemoration of that document. In this reissue of a book published nearly a quarter century ago and now updated with five new essays, editor Garraty has gathered 19 leading historians and commentators, each of whom dissects a particularly telling Supreme Court case in the light of the various constitutional issues that it exposed. The Court's decisions, Garraty writes, have continually altered the document, ""modifying the fundamental frame of government more extensively than all the amendments taken together."" The cases chosen by the contributors make not only good case studies, but thrilling personal sagas as well, as can be expected from a cast of characters as diverse as smugglers, black slaves, bankers, butchers, ferryboat captains, rebels, workers, and tycoons. The five new essays deal with the Dred Scott case, freedom of expression, the rights of the accused, minimum-wage laws, and the legality of abortion. Always the emphasis is on how private dramas, working themselves out often in obscurity, still lead to dramatic decisions in the Court that affect the entire nation. Contributors include such eminent names as Frank Freidel, George Dangerfield, Allan Nevins, C. Vann Woodward, William Leuchtenberg, and Anthony Lewis. Despite Garraty's affectation of naming each chapter as if it were the latest Perry Mason novel, this is solid commentary on issues that remain alive as the Republic continues to unfold. Worth a second look.

Pub Date: June 1st, 1987
ISBN: 0061320846
Publisher: Harper & Row