FAULT LINES IN THE CONSTITUTION: The Founding Fathers Said What?

Lynn: I think we can all agree that this is quite a politically divisive time; no one can seem to agree on much of anything. One rare commonality is how often people pull the Constitution and the Founding Fathers into their arguments. Further, many seem certain that the Founding Fathers knew exactly what they were doing when they wrote our country’s most important document.

Cynthia and Sanford Levinson take on this assumption in an important new book for teen readers. Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws That Affect Us Today (2017) shows that both Levinsons have serious chops. Cynthia is a former teacher, educational policy researcher, and author of several books, including We’ve Got a Job: The 1963 Birmingham Children’s March (2012). Sanford is a legal scholar, law professor at the University of Texas, and author of several adult nonfiction works on constitutional issues.

Fault LInes in the Constitution: The Framers, their Fights and the Flaws That Affect Us Today by Cynthia Levinson & Sanford Levinson

Who were the Founding Fathers? What was their political and historical circumstance? With what issues did these men struggle as they tried to form a more perfect union? Do their words mean the same to us now as they did to the Framers in 1787? What does any of this history mean to us today, and why should we care? Fault Lines offers some great insight into each of these questions and more.

The Levinsons set the stage by using the Preamble itself to review the setting, history, political situation, and controversies swirling around the Framers as they began their work in that hot, stuffy room. In the chapters that follow, the authors explore the impact of the Framers’ work on contemporary issues like gerrymandering, presidential vetoes, bicameralism, the electoral college, presidential succession, term limits, and more. Each chapter begins with a controversial event or court case sure to grab teens’ attention. Sections labeled “Meanwhile, Back in 1787” look back to the Framers’ thinking and the constitutional history that created the issues. In sections called “So What’s the Big Problem?” analyze what impact this thinking has on us now.

Chatty, conversational, and very provocative, this fascinating book takes our revered document and opens it up to examination and debate. Carefully researched and documented, it brings our history, our Constitution, and our assumptions about them into the light of modern understanding. The two final chapters grade the Constitution (C+), and feature a lively debate between the authors about whether a new Constitutional Convention should be held.

Throw out the high school textbooks and put this outstanding book in the hands of the next generation!

 

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About the Author:

Cindy Dobrez and Lynn Rutan are Booklist reviewers and middle-school librarians who have chaired both ALA’s Best Books for Young Adults and the Michael L. Printz Award for YA Literature committees. Follow Bookends on Twitter at @BookendsBlog. You can also find Cindy at @cdobrez and Lynn at @482april.

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