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Origins of the Bill of Rights

3.69  ·  Rating Details ·  62 Ratings  ·  9 Reviews
Americans resorted to arms in 1775 not to establish new liberties but to defend old ones, explains constitutional historian Leonard W. Levy in this fascinating history of the origins of the Bill of Rights. Unencumbered by a rigid class system, an arbitrary government, or a single established church squelching dissent, colonial Americans understood freedom in a far more com ...more
Paperback, 306 pages
Published February 8th 2001 by Yale University Press (first published 1999)
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Piker7977
The individual liberties contained in the Bill of Rights are often cherished, forgotten, misunderstood, or taken for granted. Scholars have implemented different approaches when analyzing the history of the Bill of Rights. Studies may involve a general timeline which begins with the origins of individual English liberties and ends in an analysis of how the Bill of Rights translates for contemporary issues. Here the reader gains an understanding of how far back the ideas behind the amendments com ...more
Liam
Mar 22, 2016 Liam rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"The party that had first opposed the Bill of Rights inadvertently wound up with the responsibility for its framing and ratification, whereas the people who had at first professedly wanted it discovered too late that it not only was embarrassing but disastrous for their ulterior purposes." (43)

"Nowhere in America after 1776 did an establishment of religion restrict itself to as state church or to a system of public support for one sect alone; instead, an establishment of religion meant public su
...more
Joe
Feb 15, 2011 Joe rated it liked it
Shelves: history
Caveat: My star rating may be biased by a level of complex detail that I did not expect, having mistaken something clearly written for a more academic and/or law school audience for the sort of more general history I am accusomed to reading. Still, once started I persevered to the end. I cannot fault it for detail. There is plenty.

An amusing point Levy makes is one I have also seen from other authors: The English have had a talent for inventing new writes by claiming them to be old rights guaran
...more
Josh Liller
This is an exceptionally frustrating book about the Bill of Rights (aka US Constitutional Amendments 1-10). The author seems to understand the subject quite well and even seems reasonably unbiased. The chapter on the 2nd Amendment and the author's argument (in favor of private gun ownership, but not unregulated) is possibly the best I've heard. However, the writing is painfully dry through most of the book. The first chapter, "Why We Have A Bill Of Rights", is particularly frustrating as it seem ...more
Madeline
May 30, 2015 Madeline rated it liked it
Very informative but awkwardly written across the board so far. Certain points are beaten to death and then later bludgeoned to death. Sometimes necessary antecedents are omitted, making it impossible to follow some of Levy's paragraphs. Where he surveys topics, he mentions many events in succession without obvious organizational direction. Furthermore, Levy fails to utilize footnotes throughout the book, so it is impossible to discern where to look for more about a particular item.

All that bein
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Sean Clouden
May 16, 2011 Sean Clouden rated it it was amazing
Thanks to this book, I understand my constitutional rights better than ever before, and I have a tremendous amount of respect for the Founding Fathers'courage and integrity to do what is right, even if unpopular (yes, the Bill of Rights was very unpopular with many of their peers).

This book also helped me understand how relevant these rights are to modern society and how dark it can get when they're lost (sometimes we forget this). It also helped me better understand why the "controversial" righ
...more
Michael Powe
Jul 22, 2012 Michael Powe rated it really liked it
The pugnaciously iconoclastic Professor's overview of the first ten amendments to the Constitution likely has something in it to offend everyone. But if you want one short book to review these critical elements of the national gov't, this book is the one.
William
Jan 21, 2010 William rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Lovers of Freedom
Shelves: political, history
Great book, I loved learning about the Bill of Rights. Not as entertaining as it is informative, but still a great book to read.
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Origins of the Bill of Rights (Yale Contemporary Law Series) by Leonard W. Levy (2001)
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Leonard W. Levy (April 9, 1923 – August 24, 2006) was the Andrew W. Mellon All-Claremont Professor of Humanities and Chairman of the Graduate Faculty of History at Claremont Graduate School, California. He was born in Toronto, Ontario, Canada, and educated at Columbia University, where his mentor for the Ph.D. degree was Henry Steele Commager.

Levy's most honored book was his 1968 study Origins of
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