The Words We Live By: Your Annotated Guide to the Constitution

by Linda R. Monk

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ISBN-13: 9780786867202


**THE WORDS WE LIVE BY** takes an entertaining and informative look at America’s most important historical document, now with discussions on new rulings on hot button issues such as immigration, gay marriage, gun control, and affirmative action.

In **THE WORDS WE LIVE BY**, Linda Monk probes the idea that the Constitution may seem to offer cut-and-dried answers to questions regarding personal rights, but the interpretations of this hallowed document are nearly infinite. For example, in the debate over gun control, does “the right of the people to bear arms” as stated in the Second Amendment pertain to individual citizens or regulated militias? What do scholars say? Should the Internet be regulated and censored, or does this impinge on the freedom of speech as defined in the First Amendment? These and other issues vary depending on the interpretation of the Constitution.

Through entertaining and informative annotations, **THE WORDS WE LIVE BY** offers a new way of looking at the Constitution. Its pages reflect a critical, respectful and appreciative look at one of history’s greatest documents. **THE WORDS WE LIVE BY** is filled with a rich and engaging historical perspective along with enough surprises and fascinating facts and illustrations to prove that your Constitution is a living–and entertaining–document.

Updated now for the first time, **THE WORDS WE LIVE BY** continues to take an entertaining and informative look at America’s most important historical document, now with discussions on new rulings on hot button issues such as immigration, gay marriage, and affirmative action.

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### From Publishers Weekly

The U.S. Constitution gets a comprehensive overview in this engaging blend of history and commentary. Monk, author of The Bill of Rights: A User’s Guide, traces the history and consequences of each part of this vital document in a line-by-line analysis of the original seven articles and the 27 amendments. Drawing on the writings of constitutional scholars, Supreme Court Justices and concerned citizens like Charlton Heston, playwright Arthur Miller and rock star Ted Nugent, she also gives even-handed but lively accounts of the debates over such Constitutional controversies as the right to bear arms, the right to privacy, church-state separation and capital punishment. The portrait of the Constitution that emerges is a mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous. Some parts, like the Civil War amendments that defined citizenship and equality in granting them to African-Americans, are terse milestones in our evolving understanding of freedom, while elsewhere the Constitution seems like a scratch-pad for ill-considered ideas like the hastily repealed Prohibition Amendment. Monk avoids comparisons with other countries’ charters that might have illuminated the Constitution’s idiosyncrasies, and skirts deeper critiques, like Daniel Lazare’s argument that the Constitution’s overall structure of states’ rights, separation of powers and checks and balances hobbles rather than effectuates the will of the people. Still, this is a fine introduction to Constitutional history for a general readership laid out rather like a good social studies textbook. Illus.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

### From Booklist

Marching methodically through the Constitution, Monk partitions the parchment’s text and appends brief historical or legal background to each clause. Upon arrival at the Twenty-seventh Amendment, the reader should be able to sling around such phrases as “original intent” and “implied powers” like a law scholar. On the other hand, Monk’s analysis does not pretend to profundity: her aim is to be as populistic as possible. To this end, photos abound that are symbolic of various rights (actor Charlton Heston with his musket; civil rights demonstrators in Selma), as do sidebars quoting founders, jurists, and individuals significant to constitutional development, such as Clarence Earl Gideon. His petition to the Supreme Court resulted in the guarantee of a lawyer to criminal defendants. Monk’s illustrations of the expansion of rights–the original Constitution protected few personal liberties–will remind readers how the document really is a “living” entity. Also showing the constitutional basis for the expansion of government power, Monk readily explains the constitutional phrases that imbue American political discourse. *Gilbert Taylor*
*Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved*

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