"Carol Berkin has now written the liveliest and most concise account yet of the adoption of the Constitution. With unflagging verve, she sweeps readers along as she introduces the players, canvasses the issues, and explains the critical decisions. And she manages the neat and difficult trick of presenting the framers of the Constitution as living, breathing, calculating politicians while simultaneously capturing the deep seriousness of their debates and achievements. The result is a sparkling, fast-paced, and always engaging introduction to the modern world's first great exercise in constitutional invention."Jack N. Rakove, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of James Madison and the Creation of the American Republic
"A story all modern Americans need to knowthe exciting and true tale of our nation's origins, as narrated by one of our best historians."Professor Mary Beth Norton, Cornell University
For the newly independent United States, the years just after the Revolution were the best of times and the worst of times: though the states celebrated their newfound freedom, they did not have a strong central government that would bind them together. Between 1776 and 1787, the proud new nation faced economic crisis, military weakness and interstate conflict problems so enormous they almost dashed all hopes for a future unified country. Yet, as historian Berkin so engagingly illustrates, James Madison, George Washington and a handful of others met in Philadelphia in 1787 to frame a creative answer to the political impasse. Berkin (First Generations: Women in Colonial America) wonderfully reveals the conflicts and compromises that characterized the drafting of the Constitution. She chronicles the development of the document itself, recording the details of each of the articles of the Constitution, for instance, and demonstrating the framers' belief in the primacy of the legislative branch. She also portrays the deep disagreements between Madison's Federalists and the states' rights advocates, such as George Mason and Edmund Randolph of Virginia, both of whom refused to sign the Constitution and swore to fight against its ratification in their state. Most important, Berkin emphasizes that the framers saw the Constitution as a working document, one that would require revision as the country grew. With the sensibilities of a novelist, Berkin tells a fast-paced story full of quirky and sympathetic characters, capturing the human dimensions of the now legendary first Constitutional Convention. (Sept.) Forecast: Berkin's wonderfully engaging book could take its place alongside Joseph Ellis's Founding Brothers and David McCullough's John Adams. Her role as commentator on the upcoming A&E series Founding Brothers will raise the book's profile still further. Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.