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Critique of the America's Constitution:A Biography by Akhil Amar - Book Report/Review Example

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Subject: History and Political Science Date: March 30, 2012 Topic: Critique of book "America's Constitution: A Biography" by Akhil Amar Introduction This is the book with a difference, on America’s Constitution. It introduces an inquisitive reader with the constitutional text and the various stages of struggles of the legislators and intellectuals, before they asserted, “We do,” to experience the enlightenment and spirit of the Constitution…
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Critique of the Book Americas Constitution:A Biography by Akhil Amar
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Download file to see previous pages Akhil Reed Amar writes, “Law, history and political science—these three disciplines form the legs of the stool on which the book rests.”(467) He gives an elaborate description about the ‘birth-pangs’ of the Constitution, the virtual neck to neck to competition amongst the proposers and those who opposed the constitutional provisions, before they give the assent by a wafer-thin majority vote( in most of the states), and how that passage leads to further vigorous debates. He argues, “The Constitution has given rise to a remarkable range of interpretations over the years. In the chapters that follow I offer my own take: This book is an opinionated biography of the document. I pay special attention to these aspects of the Constitution that are, in my view, particularly significant, or generally misunderstood.”(Preface, xii) Response to the scholarship of the author: My response to the contents of the book is positive and appreciative. Akhil makes his intentions clear and he writes, “As one who teaches in both a law school and a political-science department, I have written this book to help show my colleagues what they are missing.”(467) This is no self-eulogy, but a statement of facts. The contents are not an academic exercise in textual analysis. Behind each explanation and interpretation, the author sees the issues that confront an average American citizen and he gives opinionated statements as to what democracy means to them and what democracy should mean to them. The author has the traits of a sociologist and spiritualist clubbed together when he argues, “And yet….in important ways the document did worsen the plight of those most cruelly denied the blessings of liberty. Slavery was the original sin in the New World garden, and the Constitution did more to feed the serpent than to crush it.”(20) This observation is but one of the many such examples when the author uses the interpretative method to highlight his viewpoints on contentious issues that challenge the American society. He is in search of a human face, not a heartless legal robot, behind the interpretation of articles of the Constitution and looks at them with a holistic perspective. Akhil is aware of certain shortcomings of the constitution and the biography is still not complete! The un-enacted topics include foundational statues, judicial interpretation and norms and practices of American system. Akhil highlights the concern of the Founders who were fully seized of the issue of “the legitimacy of the Constitution” depends on popular support and supremacy of the common citizen. This was the acid test for those involved directly or indirectly in drafting of the articles of Constitution. The emphasis in the forwarding document “to Congress presenting the Constitution,” they specifically called for the approval by the convention. The citizens of the concerned States were afforded an opportunity to discuss and study it before the election which was only about “delegates to be selected for the conventions.” Akhil argues that the voting power given to the delegates to the convention is equivalent to pattern of “direct referendum on the document.” (308) Akhil has elucidated three important themes: 1. The Founder's Constitution was more democratic, but stood by ...Download file to see next pagesRead More
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