A useful, illuminating collection of documents showing the genesis of the US Constitution from 1776 until 1791, Kammen (A Season of Youth and People of Paradox) has drawn on all the important sources to assemble these private letters, public resolutions and journalistic tracts in time for the Constitution's 200th birthday next year. Dissatisfaction with the Articles of Confederation led several states to call for the constitutional convention that eventually met in Philadelphia in 1787. Principal issues--as we see from the voluminous selections from the Federalist and anti-Federalist papers--ranged from proper balance of power between the states and the Federal government, the division of power within the government, the creation of checks and balances among the legislative, executive and judicial branches; the question of whether a Bill of Rights would be necessary--and the fear of some that the proposed system could ultimately degenerate into a monarchy. Selections from the correspondence of Washington, Madison, Hamilton, Jefferson and others reveal in a more personal way the tensions and fears and hopes--and impressive knowledge of world history--of the founding fathers as they waited for the states to ratify or reject the proposed document. A final flurry of letters shows the founders gearing up for Washington's return from ""the bosom of domestic tranquility"" to take on the presidency. An informative reminder of the institutional thread by which our nation hangs. Of broad interest.