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The Federalist Papers (Civic Classics)

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"The best commentary on the principles of government which ever was written" - Thomas Jefferson Penguin presents a series of six portable, accessible, and—above all—essential reads from American political history, selected by leading scholars. Series editor Richard Beeman, author of The Penguin Guide to the U.S. Constitution, draws together the great texts of American civic "The best commentary on the principles of government which ever was written" - Thomas Jefferson Penguin presents a series of six portable, accessible, and—above all—essential reads from American political history, selected by leading scholars. Series editor Richard Beeman, author of The Penguin Guide to the U.S. Constitution, draws together the great texts of American civic life to create a timely and informative mini-library of perennially vital issues. Whether readers are encountering these classic writings for the first time, or brushing up in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, these slim volumes will serve as a powerful and illuminating resource for scholars, students, and civic-minded citizens.Written at a time when furious arguments were raging about the best way to govern America, The Federalist Papers had the immediate practical aim of persuading New Yorkers to accept the newly drafted Constitution in 1787. In this they were supremely successful, but their influence also transcended contemporary debate to win them a lasting place in discussions of American political theory. The Federalist Papers make a powerful case for power-sharing between State and Federal authorities and have only risen in legal influence over the last two centuries. Beeman’s analysis helps clarify the goals, at once separate and in concert, of Madison, Hamilton, and Jay during their writing, and his selections show the array of issues—both philosophical and policy-specific—covered by this body of work.


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"The best commentary on the principles of government which ever was written" - Thomas Jefferson Penguin presents a series of six portable, accessible, and—above all—essential reads from American political history, selected by leading scholars. Series editor Richard Beeman, author of The Penguin Guide to the U.S. Constitution, draws together the great texts of American civic "The best commentary on the principles of government which ever was written" - Thomas Jefferson Penguin presents a series of six portable, accessible, and—above all—essential reads from American political history, selected by leading scholars. Series editor Richard Beeman, author of The Penguin Guide to the U.S. Constitution, draws together the great texts of American civic life to create a timely and informative mini-library of perennially vital issues. Whether readers are encountering these classic writings for the first time, or brushing up in anticipation of the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act, these slim volumes will serve as a powerful and illuminating resource for scholars, students, and civic-minded citizens.Written at a time when furious arguments were raging about the best way to govern America, The Federalist Papers had the immediate practical aim of persuading New Yorkers to accept the newly drafted Constitution in 1787. In this they were supremely successful, but their influence also transcended contemporary debate to win them a lasting place in discussions of American political theory. The Federalist Papers make a powerful case for power-sharing between State and Federal authorities and have only risen in legal influence over the last two centuries. Beeman’s analysis helps clarify the goals, at once separate and in concert, of Madison, Hamilton, and Jay during their writing, and his selections show the array of issues—both philosophical and policy-specific—covered by this body of work.

30 review for The Federalist Papers (Civic Classics)

  1. 5 out of 5

    Marc Towersap

    while I'm a 4th way through the book, I admit I'm disappointed, not over the content, but with what's missing. I thought, when I bought it, it'd be all the federalist papers. I knew they were really just a bunch of essays published in a New York newspaper under the pseudonym 'Plubius', I knew it was written mostly by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, with a few by John Jay. I knew this was basically arguing for New York to ratify the US Constitution without the Bill of Rights, which wasn't w while I'm a 4th way through the book, I admit I'm disappointed, not over the content, but with what's missing. I thought, when I bought it, it'd be all the federalist papers. I knew they were really just a bunch of essays published in a New York newspaper under the pseudonym 'Plubius', I knew it was written mostly by Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, with a few by John Jay. I knew this was basically arguing for New York to ratify the US Constitution without the Bill of Rights, which wasn't written yet. I just didn't expect this book to be a weeded out version. Beeman did say (of course, after I bought it) that he weeded out what he thought not-so-applicable, mainly because a lot of Hamilton's arguments were against the Articles of Confederation, which America was 'operating' under. Operating in quotes, because America was failing. When Hamilton/Madison/Jay were writing these essays, America faced all kinds of problems assocated with a too-limited government, too much state power (which they consequently argued against each other), no way to really raise money to pay off debts, which led to Shay's Rebellion. Still, I wonder if some of the Hamilton essays missing from this book may still be applicable against those who subscribe to Grover Norquist's superweak government (shrink it then drown it). Maybe Beeman was right in lopping off those other essays, but reading this chopped up book, you'll never know. I guess I gotta go buy the full edition.

  2. 4 out of 5

    A.

    It's spine-tingling to read some of these essays. They're eerily prescient, particularly when it comes to what we're witnessing now. From Essay 1: "A dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that, the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have o It's spine-tingling to read some of these essays. They're eerily prescient, particularly when it comes to what we're witnessing now. From Essay 1: "A dangerous ambition more often lurks behind the specious mask of zeal for the rights of the people than under the forbidden appearance of zeal for the firmness and efficiency of government. History will teach us that, the former has been found a much more certain road to the introduction of despotism than the latter, and that of those men who have overturned the liberties of republics, the greatest number have begun their career by paying an obsequious court to the people; commencing demagogues, and ending tyrants." It's also interesting to read, in the Founders' words, about the right to bear arms as a critical check against any excessive military force being used against the People; the play of federal versus democratic principles that shape our Constitution; the arguments for not needing a Bill of Rights; and the role of the Judicial branch, considered the weakest. I wished this edition had included No. 65 on impeachment. But otherwise a good — if dense — read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Arkajit Dey

    This edition is an abridged collection of some of the essays (19 out of the full 85). The essays were written in the midst of the Constitution ratification debates to encourage ratification. If you're interested in how the national government was designed, why certain features were added or not added, these papers will help illuminate. Consider it a user's guide to the Constitution. Where the latter is a short (~10 page) document of the rules of government, these letters expand on why those rules This edition is an abridged collection of some of the essays (19 out of the full 85). The essays were written in the midst of the Constitution ratification debates to encourage ratification. If you're interested in how the national government was designed, why certain features were added or not added, these papers will help illuminate. Consider it a user's guide to the Constitution. Where the latter is a short (~10 page) document of the rules of government, these letters expand on why those rules were picked. Why, for example, does the Senate require an older minimum age (30) than the House of Representatives (25) for its members? Why are judges in the judiciary appointed for life (on good behavior), whereas Senators have staggered 6-year terms and House of Representatives much shorter 2-year terms? Since the Constitution remains the supreme law of the United States, the Federalist Papers continue to be useful reading for any American citizen who wants to better understand how their government operates or should operate. The full text of the remaining Federalist Papers are also available from the Library of Congress's archives at: https://www.congress.gov/resources/di...

  4. 5 out of 5

    Daniela Bullard

    This is a great book to read based on the United States constitution in which Alexander Hamilton James Madison and John Jay focused on. Also they pointed that We as the people of United States created the constitution. At the same time it was pointed out that if we have justice there will be no government because the people will over rule. For the most part all three of them pointed out some of the strengths and weaknesses of each of our powers that organizes the United States such as the legisl This is a great book to read based on the United States constitution in which Alexander Hamilton James Madison and John Jay focused on. Also they pointed that We as the people of United States created the constitution. At the same time it was pointed out that if we have justice there will be no government because the people will over rule. For the most part all three of them pointed out some of the strengths and weaknesses of each of our powers that organizes the United States such as the legislature judicial and executive branch has an important role of shaping out country. Most importantly how each power should over lap each other to maintain the balance each branch has.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Erwin

    This summary was useless... I'm just going to Guttenberg and downloading the origional text when I've got some time. Something with historical references/footnotes/comments would be ideal, but that should be an expansion on the origional papers, not editing it down to nothing...

  6. 5 out of 5

    Josh Ferguson

    The most important documents regarding the founding of the greatest country on earth that no one reads.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    How did I earn a BA in political science having never read more then extremely brief excerpts of the Federalist Papers? Not exactly easy reading, but lots to think about. This version includes only 19 of the 85 papers. The Introduction says that there is general agreement over which papers are really limited to speaking to specific situations and people of the time they were written, and this volume has left those out. I have no idea whether or not this is true, but there were definitely points How did I earn a BA in political science having never read more then extremely brief excerpts of the Federalist Papers? Not exactly easy reading, but lots to think about. This version includes only 19 of the 85 papers. The Introduction says that there is general agreement over which papers are really limited to speaking to specific situations and people of the time they were written, and this volume has left those out. I have no idea whether or not this is true, but there were definitely points in the book where I didn't really understand what was going on, and it sounded like the authors were addressing an argument or situation specific to their time, so I can only imagine what some of the papers omitted from the book are like. It was an interesting time to read this book. We are currently surrounded with discussions of the downfalls of our Founding Fathers. They had many, and I think these discussions are important. But this reminder of how amazing these men were in coming up with a brand new government that advances liberty and rights while being realistic about the vices of most humans that might cause this government to fail was uplifting, especially around Independence Day. We have a strong ground to build on and improve as we become more aware of our country's shortfalls. There is so much to think about when reading this. My copy is incredibly marked up with my underlinings and questions in the margins. Some of the papers seem so on point and weirdly seem to foresee the situation we are in today with a president who wants to hoard power for himself with little consideration of the common good. And some things stated in the papers as an argument for accepting the Constitution didn't seem to come to fruition at all. This volume is just the papers, no explanatory text, and I could really use some explanation in contemporary language because I think I am missing a lot. Would love to have a class going over this in detail. BTW, to my contemporary ears, James Madison and John Jay are way easier to understand than Alexander Hamilton!

  8. 5 out of 5

    Jennifer Leo

    I mean, it's history so how do you not give it 5 stars? A great compilation of the papers but extremely difficult to understand. I'm shocked at how far backward our writing and reading standards have traveled in the last 230 years... quite depressing.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Leslie

    I

  10. 4 out of 5

    ZX

    This edition of The Federalist Papers, under the Penguin Civic Classics series, is an abridged version. It consists only of essay 1, 6, 9, 10, 14, 23, 39, 45, 46, 47, 48, 51, 62, 63, 64, 70, 78, 84, and 85. Richard Beeman, editor of this particular version and the overall Penguin Civic Classics, said that he selected these particular essays as they have outlived their original partisan purpose and come to explain the principles of American constitutionalism. Besides these essays, there is also a This edition of The Federalist Papers, under the Penguin Civic Classics series, is an abridged version. It consists only of essay 1, 6, 9, 10, 14, 23, 39, 45, 46, 47, 48, 51, 62, 63, 64, 70, 78, 84, and 85. Richard Beeman, editor of this particular version and the overall Penguin Civic Classics, said that he selected these particular essays as they have outlived their original partisan purpose and come to explain the principles of American constitutionalism. Besides these essays, there is also a series introduction and a introduction to the book. Additionally, scattered throughout the essays, are notes made by the original authors (i.e. Hamilton, Madison, or Jay). This particular book does not include further explanatory notes from Richard Beeman. Most of the time, the essays are easily understandable. However, every now and then, there will be the appearance of archaic spelling of words and lengthy sentences - all of which could prove a bit challenging for the modern, layback reader, like me. Moving on to the content of the essays. Even though this is an abridged version of the Papers, nonetheless, the book still covers a wide range of topics regarding the adoption of the then proposed constitution and the establishment of federalism in America. As a preview, the following topics are covered: - Importance of unifying the 13 States into a single Union - Difference between a democracy and a republic organised into a federation - Ability of a republic system to safeguard itself against tyranny of the majority and any other depostic ideas - Dominance of State legislatures over the National legislature - Separation of the executive, legislative, and judicial branches - Examination of the nature and the need of a Senate - Nature of the executive branch - Nature of the judicial branch A key takeaway I gained, is that the current US political gridlock could be interpreted as an evidence of the federal system, advocated in these essays, resisting against what certain section of the US population perceived as bad/despotic ideas. For it was mentioned/implied by Madison, in essay 10 and 51, that republics safeguard themselves against despotic ideas by ensuring they include a large population. With a large electoral population, and an accordingly wide variety of opinions and interests, there will never be a group large enough to trample over others and implement their despotic (or beneficial) ideas.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Emily

    "Alexander joins forces with James Madison and John Jay to write a series of essays defending the new United States Constitution, entitled The Federalist Papers. The plan was to write a total of twenty-five essays, the work divided evenly among the three men. In the end, they wrote eighty-five essays, in the span of six months. John Jay got sick after writing five. James Madison wrote twenty-nine. Hamilton wrote the other fifty-one!" Okay, what would The Federalist Papers be without quoting some "Alexander joins forces with James Madison and John Jay to write a series of essays defending the new United States Constitution, entitled The Federalist Papers. The plan was to write a total of twenty-five essays, the work divided evenly among the three men. In the end, they wrote eighty-five essays, in the span of six months. John Jay got sick after writing five. James Madison wrote twenty-nine. Hamilton wrote the other fifty-one!" Okay, what would The Federalist Papers be without quoting some Hamilton? For real, many of us were brought here BECAUSE of Hamilton so it only seems fitting. Anyway, today it seems hard to imagine that at one time the Constitution was not only a revolutionary, but also a controversial idea. With factions fighting to prevent another monarchy from creeping into the new nation, the Federalist Papers were written, anonymously, by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay to convince the nation that uniting the states under a Federal system, with rights divided and defined between the state and federal levels, was the best plan for creating a new nation. All of the papers are beautifully written, written earnestly in hopes of assuaging the fears of a Federal system through highlighting the positives and disproving the negatives of the Constitution. These papers provided the emphasis our forefathers needed to establish our nation as we know it, so it is something to be thankful for! Be advised though, these are not ALL of the papers written, but a selection of the ones that were published. Most of the ones provided were Hamilton's and Madison's, with only one of Jay's five making the cut.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Victor Davis

    I am glad to have read the introduction to this book and understood the historical context for it. At a time when the colonies were bound only by the Articles of Confederation and what is now the Constitution was then just a proposition for their review, these three authors used the power of the pen to fight to defend it against its detractors. Sounds like the subject of a great non-fiction book or a documentary. However, although Madison is the strongest of the three writers, none are all that I am glad to have read the introduction to this book and understood the historical context for it. At a time when the colonies were bound only by the Articles of Confederation and what is now the Constitution was then just a proposition for their review, these three authors used the power of the pen to fight to defend it against its detractors. Sounds like the subject of a great non-fiction book or a documentary. However, although Madison is the strongest of the three writers, none are all that inspirational in their rhetoric. I found the text dull and historic in the worst possible meaning of the term. A far more entertaining and enlightening read is Common Sense. I have now read 5/6 of this Civic Classics series and look forward to finish it by checking out American Political Speeches. Of the five I have read, I'd give the strongest recommendation to Supreme Court Decisions. These decisions, both past and present, paint the clearest picture of what it means to be American, what the experiment is all about, where it has failed, and where it has succeeded.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Diane

    While I understand the importance of reading a book like this, and I'm glad I did, it was a very dry read. I really enjoyed the literary and historical references. Hamilton especially seemed to rely on his Greek history when trying to make points. The comparisons between other rulers from other countries and what Hamilton or Madison hoped our president would be was interesting as well. I got the impression they spent a lot of time analyzing other governments in order to pick and choose the best q While I understand the importance of reading a book like this, and I'm glad I did, it was a very dry read. I really enjoyed the literary and historical references. Hamilton especially seemed to rely on his Greek history when trying to make points. The comparisons between other rulers from other countries and what Hamilton or Madison hoped our president would be was interesting as well. I got the impression they spent a lot of time analyzing other governments in order to pick and choose the best qualities of each for their own. What struck me the most was how earnest the writers were. They were really trying to convince their readers that what they were doing was right and important for their new country. There were bits of humor thrown in, but sometimes the jokes got lost in the mass of political speech. Looking over my highlights, I can't quite find anything particularly funny but I DO remember laughing once or twice so there's got to be something in there. Recommend as our country's history is good to know. Definitely an important book, even if it does take a bit of patience to get through.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Lindsey

    This slim volume was a wonderful introduction to the Federalist Papers. Some of the other reviewers have complained that this version is abridged but I thought the editor did a wonderful job of choosing the most relevant and interesting essays to include. He hit the highlights and skipped the boring or redundant essays. Many of the essays that were excluded have to do with taxation, commerce, treaties, etc. I had to read the papers in their entirety while in law school and believe me, it was pai This slim volume was a wonderful introduction to the Federalist Papers. Some of the other reviewers have complained that this version is abridged but I thought the editor did a wonderful job of choosing the most relevant and interesting essays to include. He hit the highlights and skipped the boring or redundant essays. Many of the essays that were excluded have to do with taxation, commerce, treaties, etc. I had to read the papers in their entirety while in law school and believe me, it was painful. This abridged version is just the right size for the general public, and allows larger exposure of them. For most people the prospect of reading the complete essays is daunting. Overall a wonderfully edited collection. I received an ARC of this book in exchange for an honest review.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Auggie Heschmeyer

    I won't make this review about the actual content of the Federalist Papers because you already know them things is lit and mad historically important. Instead, I'll focus on this collection. Don't pick this bad boy up if you're looking for a deep dive into them Papers because this ain't the one, homie. This book was edited to highlight the particular Papers that have gone on to have the most lasting impact in the contemporary legal landscape. The editor picked 19 that don't just show off the bes I won't make this review about the actual content of the Federalist Papers because you already know them things is lit and mad historically important. Instead, I'll focus on this collection. Don't pick this bad boy up if you're looking for a deep dive into them Papers because this ain't the one, homie. This book was edited to highlight the particular Papers that have gone on to have the most lasting impact in the contemporary legal landscape. The editor picked 19 that don't just show off the best of the Papers (#39 is big mood, feel me?), but almost read like a single document; despite there being gaps of sometimes 15-20 essays between selections, thematically, them shits pick up where the last one left off.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Josh

    Sometimes, you can know the Founders' intentions ~ They wrote a pile of documents explaining them. It's a long read with great deal of legal reasoning and a sentence structure that's often hard to parse (especially Hamilton), but well worth reading for the insight into the origins of the US C0nstitution and the reasons it was written in the way it was, with a number of explanations as to the intent of the author and the convention convened for the purpose of writing it. A classic piece of US histo Sometimes, you can know the Founders' intentions ~ They wrote a pile of documents explaining them. It's a long read with great deal of legal reasoning and a sentence structure that's often hard to parse (especially Hamilton), but well worth reading for the insight into the origins of the US C0nstitution and the reasons it was written in the way it was, with a number of explanations as to the intent of the author and the convention convened for the purpose of writing it. A classic piece of US history.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Ari Rose David

    I carry this book with me wherever I go. It's great for light reading when I forget to grab a book from my shelf when I leave the house.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    Fundamental to understanding the tenuous details that hold our Republican system of government together.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Stephen Angliss

    Absolutely crucial to understanding the purpose and process of our Constitution. You either agree with the drafters of the Constitution or you don't. Read #10 and #51 especially.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Tristan Williams

    A decent subset of The Federalist Papers, focusing mainly on the iconic entries and the contemporarily relevant ones.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Laurie Lentz

  22. 5 out of 5

    David Nelson

  23. 5 out of 5

    Chase Norton

  24. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Dreher

  25. 5 out of 5

    Gary

  26. 5 out of 5

    Christopher

  27. 5 out of 5

    David

  28. 4 out of 5

    Michael Gonzalez

  29. 4 out of 5

    Landon

  30. 5 out of 5

    Paul Frank Spencer

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