An immigrant’s-eye view of the Constitution’s importance, featuring a transcription of the document into simpler, modern language.
Addressing young readers with a reference to the preamble—“You are the posterity for whom they gathered in Philadelphia”—the Pakistan-born author opens with eloquent praise for the mix of idealism and practicality that permeates both the Constitution and the Declaration of Independence and has made the Constitution “America’s beating heart.” Along with including the complete texts of both (the Declaration’s “merciless Indian Savages” and all), he goes on to describe the former’s composition, including the “shameful compromise” on slavery, and to explain the resulting structure of our federal government (including the press as an unofficial “fourth branch”). He also offers a less-formal rendition of the Constitution’s articles and amendments (“ensure domestic tranquility” becomes “ensure peace within our borders”) and highlights 13 landmark Supreme Court decisions related to federal powers and personal rights. If he neglects to mention that among the Founding Fathers Thomas Jefferson too was a slaveholder or gives short shrift to American immigration law’s checkered (to say the least) history, still he makes a sturdy case for understanding those powers and rights and appreciating their value. Frequent personal asides underline the message, as do his closing suggestions for becoming and remaining politically active and aware.
An optimistic picture of our progress toward promoting a more perfect union, with an essential tool kit for every current or prospective citizen. (index) (Nonfiction. 11-14)