5 Great Books about the Constitution

  • September 17, 2014

On this day 227 years ago, the delegates to the Constitutional Convention released the text of a new charter of government. They had wrangled since late May, through a sweltering summer, to produce a document that carried deep flaws and great virtues. To mark Constitution Day, we offer a list of five great books about America’s seminal manuscript.

5 Great Books about the Constitution
  1. American Epic: Reading the U.S. Constitution by Garrett Epps (Oxford). Taking the Constitution on its own terms, Epps leads a fascinating literary exploration of the 7,500 words of the document itself.

  2. The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution by David O. Stewart (Simon & Schuster). This book offers a compelling narrative of the brilliant though sometimes angry and scheming personalities who produced the world’s first written charter for a republic.

  3. The Federalist Papers by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay (various). First published as newspaper advocacy pieces, these 85 essays on the new American government have never been surpassed.

  4. Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788 by Pauline Maier (Simon & Schuster). Once the Constitution was written, the states still had to ratify it, which proved to be a difficult, dramatic, and enlightening process.

  5. James Madison and the Struggle for the Bill of Rights by Richard Labunski (Oxford). The Framers of the Constitution forgot to include most protections for individual rights, so Madison and the First Congress undertook that essential effort in 1789. 

What are your favorite books about the Constitution, the Founding Fathers, or any other aspect of America’s birth? Tell us about them in the comments section below!

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