Have you ever read the U.S. Constitution? Perhaps you don’t think you will be able to understand it? Do you wonder if it relates to us today? Do you know anything at all about the Bill of Rights? Do you agree with the 2nd Amendment? How about the 1st Amendment? Are you sure you know what they say? Did you know there may be exceptions to automatic citizenship for those born in the U.S.?
As we move toward an election year, with all of the political controversy, don’t you think it would serve us well to know something about how the United States. Republic was established and where we get our laws?
I was recently given the opportunity to review two fascinating books on the U.S. Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I know, the last sentence sounded dull and the word “fascinating” sounded like it was trying too hard. However, if you a want a quick tutorial on the documents underpinning our laws, our government, and our rights these books are both well worth reading.
Dr. Co, Editor
Greenleaf Book Group Press, Austin TX
Approx. 120 pages
This book makes reading the Constitution accessible to everyone. It was rearranged and edited for ease of reading by Dr. Henry Bain, who is a constitutional expert and who has been credited with finding a typographical error in the Constitution that had previously gone unnoticed by other scholars.
Although this book has stirred up controversy for those who believe Dr. Bain is trying to rewrite the Constitution, and while I am not a Constitutional scholar, I found it worth a read.
First Bain reorganizes the Constitution in topical order and includes the Bill of Rights and Amendments within the text. Since the topics do not follow a consistent and/or logical order in the original document, presenting the text in this way offers readers the complete law as it should be interpreted. Each section includes a corresponding number which represents the placement of the content in the original document.
Also, without overly altering the language of the founders, Bain edits some grammatical forms, punctuation, and style to make the text more understandable in today’s language. Throughout he gives definitions of terms within the context of usage to elucidate the content.
Bain places the items that are outdated or changed by other amendments at the end. For comparison, in Section 2 he gives the Constitution and the Amendments in the traditional order.
This book can be read in an evening and offers a richer understanding of the U.S. Constitution that is so often discussed and yet so often misunderstood and misinterpreted.
Robert J. McWhirter
American Bar Association
Over 500 pages
As the Bill of Rights would fit on a few pages, you may be daunted by a 500-page book on the topic, but fear not, this book is great fun to read. It is lively, colorful, and energizing in its layout and format and a fascinating read.
The top half of the page contains details about each of the so-called amendments in the Bill of Rights and the bottom half contains extensive details (somewhat glorified footnotes) with historical facts that apply to where the line of thought underpinning each amendment developed. There are anecdotes and historical facts from ancient history, various religious beliefs, and modern culture. McWhirter adds pictures and drawings representative of the note and includes movie and culture tidbits to show how we use these ideas in our contemporary culture.
While not a read-in-one-evening book, this is more like salted peanuts, you sit down and enjoy a few pages or notes at a time, that is if you can put it down. For those who want more information, McWhirter includes sources for additional reading and references. In fact, if I have any complaint is that while the footnote is engaging, some of the context gets lost in the sourcing of references.
Both of these books are great primers if you slept through your civics or American history classes. For those who are more informed, the books will add a new dimension to your understanding of how our government and laws were formed.