Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution” as Want to Read:
The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution

4.02  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,535 Ratings  ·  105 Reviews

The successful creation of the Constitution is a suspense story. The Summer of 1787 takes us into the sweltering room in which delegates struggled for four months to produce the flawed but enduring document that would define the nation -- then and now.

George Washington presided, James Madison kept the notes, Benjamin Franklin offered wisdom and humor at crucial times. Th

Hardcover, 368 pages
Published April 10th 2007 by Simon & Schuster (first published January 1st 2007)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Summer of 1787, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Summer of 1787

John Adams by David McCullough1776 by David McCulloughTeam of Rivals by Doris Kearns GoodwinThe Guns of August by Barbara W. TuchmanThe Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer
Best History Books
391st out of 1,825 books — 1,852 voters
1984 by George Orwell1066 and All That by W.C. Sellar1776 by David McCullough2001 by Arthur C. Clarke1491 by Charles C. Mann
When Was That ? Specific Dates in Titles
50th out of 229 books — 69 voters

More lists with this book...

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Mar 29, 2009 Jason rated it it was ok
The Constitutional Convention is a subject I know something about, and have been drawn to for years.

It really started while I was an undergraduate student. We had something called "interim" which was a mini-semester between fall and spring. You took one intense month long course. My senior year, I took a course on the US Constitutional Convention. We went day-by-day through Madison's notes (and all the other notes that exist). It was one of the best and most memorable educational experiences of
Mamdouh Abdullah
Jul 23, 2016 Mamdouh Abdullah rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
قراءة عن كتاب دافيد ستيورات
صيف 1787: الرجال الذين اخترعوا الدستور
Andy Ober
Jan 02, 2016 Andy Ober rated it it was amazing
This is a well-written, well-organized and very human account of one of the most remarkable political events in American history. The book does not take a political angle in examining the creation of the Constitution, nor does it try to take on the impossible task of revealing what the founding fathers might think of today's United States. What it does do is turn the framers from paintings and historic sketches into human beings... some more likable than others, some more relevant than others. T ...more
Jul 11, 2009 Ron rated it liked it
i didn't realize slavery was so front and center in the constitutional discussions. politics (unity was more important than morality, it seems) won the day, and not only was slavery not abolished, but slave states were allowed to count their slaves for representation purposes, though only as 3/5ths of a person. yes, really.

david o. stewart seems to have a bit of a slant towards the virginians, whom he sees as the movers/shakers, and whose "virginia plan" he identifies as the blueprint for the c
Colleen Browne
Aug 15, 2015 Colleen Browne rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
I gave this book five stars. It is a concise, well researched, and extremely well written account of the days during the summer of 1787 when the convention at Philadelphia met to form a new government. Others have written this story and have done an exceptional job but no one, in my opinion, has done it in such a readable and clear way. I recommend this book to all Americans. It spells out the debates and compromises made in order to make a new government a reality. A certain section of our Cong ...more
Mar 02, 2016 Dru rated it really liked it
Incredibly useful for people who want to THINK about politics and reality and not spew sound bytes and unresearched rhetoric.

With over 200 years since the Constitution was written, it has come to be treated as a pseudo-perfect document because we have the world's longest-running experiment in self-rule ever, under its guidance.

But it is flawed. Not only is it flawed, it is sausage. As in "nobody ever really wants to see how the sausage is made". This book is about making sausage. It is about t
Ron Davis
Jul 04, 2014 Ron Davis rated it it was amazing
Well-reaseached, well-written and a pleasure to read. The constitutional convention was the response to the many failings of the articles of confederation, itself the earliest effort at a unified political system. Stewart walks us effortlessly through the dynamics of diverse interests and the efforts to strike a bargain that would allow the creation of a constitution and a federal government, or at least of a system of governance more systematized than the articles of confederaion.

Generally, the
Michael Anderson
Apr 30, 2016 Michael Anderson rated it really liked it
Narrates the goals, procedures, political alliances and maneuverings in writing the US Constitution. Washington, Madison, and Franklin were there, but, according to this book, had less to do with the final draft than several lesser known people. Much discussion was made of how many legislative houses there would be and how they would vote - one vote per state or votes proportional to the state's population. You know how it turned out. Another major roadblock was the issue of slavery. The Souther ...more
Mar 26, 2015 Chris rated it really liked it
I am so glad I listened to Stewart's Virginia Historical Society's talk which convinced me to start reading his books.

They are awesome books about US history. This one is about the writing of Constitution. Stewart details the major movers and shakers, and gives drafting the drama of an adventure story. It's a really good look at the major document.
Apr 02, 2015 Drtaxsacto rated it it was amazing
For those of us that are fascinated by the process by which we adopted the Constitution, Stewart's book is a good addition to the wealth of material on that key activity in our history. The record is flawed from other sources although an earlier book Miracle at Philadelphia covers the history well. Madison became the official notetaker (and his notes are worth the read) but his journal was edited again and again over his lifetime. The official rules of the convention required secrecy - so the de ...more
Jul 27, 2014 Holly rated it it was amazing
A document like the Constitution had never before existed in history. It had to be invented. This is the story of the men who invented it and the document that would ultimately create a government unlike any other.

It details how our form of our form of government came to be though debates, discussions, deliberations and sometimes independent ideas. The book answers questions such as:

Why are there 2 houses of Congress with a different number of delegates per state?

How were the powers of Congress
David Eppenstein
Aug 01, 2015 David Eppenstein rated it really liked it
I have a great fondness for the history of our Revolution and the subsequent creation of our nation and its national government. I especially enjoy those histories which strip away the demigod veneers of our founders and reveal their true humanity with all its virtues and vices. Of several books about the writing of our Constitution that I have read this is the first that is truly a revelation. It identifies the prime movers at Philadelphia, what they contributed; what motivations they had; what ...more
Jul 03, 2009 Bev rated it liked it
Shelves: history
This book was wonderfully detailed in how the Constitution was written, in detailed steps (I'm sure are tedious to many.) What I loved best was the clear characterizations of the people involved, learning that people I'd never heard of made the most effect. I sensed the author was trying to show that the Constitution is flawed and haphazardly put together while my view of the data he listed is different. I saw that these men were as polarized as the US Congress is today only more so but they cam ...more
May 13, 2009 Jeff rated it really liked it
Although I really liked this book, there was just a little something that prevented it from being a great book. I actually wasn't even planning on reading it right away, but casually picked it up off my shelf and just began the preface and chapter to get a feel for what I could expect when I did read it. Well, I got sucked in and had it done in under a week. It's organized chronologically and follows the summer in which the Constitution was written, as such more time is devoted to the matters th ...more
Jeremy Perron
Oct 10, 2013 Jeremy Perron rated it really liked it
The Summer of 1787 is master piece. David Stewart takes us to arguably the most important event in U.S. History-- the writing of the U.S. Constitution-- and places it and a very smooth flowing narrative. Stewart explores the ups and downs of the very hot and often chaotic convention. The great majority of the delegates' time is focused on representation in the Congress between the `big' vs. `small' states and the slave holding vs. non-slave holding states. The Convention was called for during a ...more
Informative and just plain good fun.

While Miracle at Philadelphia will probably always remain the so-called "definitive" book about the convention, this one is a much more entertaining read. Stewart proceeds chronologically through the convention, yet organizes each chapter around a key theme, issue, or debate. You'll spend one chapter watching the South try to work its will over the horrid 3/5s clause, another listening to grumbling about the election of the President, and another mediating the
May 17, 2012 Bob rated it really liked it
The successful creation of the Constitution is a suspense story. The Summer of 1787 takes us into the sweltering room in which delegates struggled for four months to produce the flawed but enduring document that would define the nation -- then and now. George Washington presided, James Madison kept the notes, Benjamin Franklin offered wisdom and humor at crucial times.

The Summer of 1787 traces the struggles within the Philadelphia Convention as the delegates hammered out the charter for the wor
Nov 28, 2010 Erik rated it really liked it
Anything I read about our nation’s founding fathers I automatically compare to David McCullough’s brilliant biography on John Adams. Which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. In fact, as I found his bio so immensely rewarding – learning that Adams and Jefferson, although best of friends, were also bitter partisan rivals – I find a book like Stewart’s to be worthy of being uttered in the same breath as McCullough’s, that’s no faint praise. And in this case, Stewart’s well-researched and smoothly writt ...more
May 27, 2013 David rated it really liked it
The Summer of 1787, by and large, is a very good introduction to some of the difficulties faced by the delegates of the Convention, but it lacks the overall details that make history such a juicy subject.

Much effort is devoted to setting up the historical background as to give the reader a thorough understanding of the problems faced under the Articles of Confederation and what interests each State was trying to protect in drafting a new Constitution. The delicate crafting of the legislative br
Bob Price
May 01, 2011 Bob Price rated it really liked it
The Constitution, with all of its wonders and of all its amazing insights, originated out of debate, compromise and prudence. When read in light of all of this, it is truly amazing how long enduring this document has become.

The Summer of 1787 tells the story of the making of this document. David Stewart is to be commended for telling this story in a straight forward way. From the establishment of the problem at the Mount Vernon Convention to the noble and (ignoble) ends of the men who attended t
Jun 16, 2012 Brian rated it really liked it
Shelves: american-history
This work is an in-depth analysis of the making of the United States Constitution during the Summer of 1787. From the initial meeting of the Convention in Philadelphia on May 25 to the final meeting and signing of the Constitution on September 17, Stewart traces all the proceedings of the Convention and relates biographical sketches of the 55 delegates from 12 colonies (Rhode Island refused to send delegates).

Each chapter details the discussions and debates among the Framers of the Constitution
Sep 03, 2007 Mrjames rated it really liked it
History has in many ways smoothed over the bumps of the Founding Fathers. The men who invented the Constitution were certainly remarkable. They were starting creating a system of government almost from scratch. But they could be irascible, parochial and often-times short sighted. David O. Stewart has written a very readable account of the constitutional convention in 1787. It's not a scholarly work, laden with minutiae but a story well-told about a very bold endeavor. Stewart mostly has praise f ...more
William Ramsay
Jul 15, 2009 William Ramsay rated it it was amazing
One of the reviews I read of this book said that a well known story is made better by a good telling. The is partly true. We all have an image in our minds - probably from as far back as grade school of how the Constitution was written by a bunch of old guys in funny wigs two hundred years ago. Well, the truth is most people really don't know what a mish-mash of ideas produced maybe the greatest governmental outline ever written - and how it's been used to direct America's affairs longer than an ...more
***Dave Hill
Dec 14, 2011 ***Dave Hill rated it it was amazing
Shelves: text, non-fiction
(Original review

This retelling of the formation and course of the Philadelphia convention to reform the national government of the newly united States is gripping and well-told, a look at political battles that make our own current Congress look like a model of civility and straightforwardness.

The biggest questions that come up are an endless series of what-ifs — what if this person hadn’t been there to push for or against an issue, what if that particu
Dave Hoff
Nov 30, 2014 Dave Hoff rated it really liked it
Getting men of 13 different States and walks of life to come up with our enduring Constitution is the greatest wonder of the ages. States Rights with slavery, and the north with industries, Big govt. or Small. but they did it. Then the selling for ratification. Most interesting chapter,Happiness,Perpetual & Otherwise. None of this, Nancy P.having to ratify the Constution before knowing what is in it. Hamilton,Madison & John Jay wrote essays, Ben Franklin pushed and many held parades & ...more
Robin Wright Gunn
Aug 07, 2008 Robin Wright Gunn rated it liked it
Can you believe I am reading this book? It's neither a novel nor a memoir nor a spirituality book. Not like me at all. I was feeling the need to read something meatier, like.. hmmm...HISTORY. I rarely read history, beucase I find I don't retain much of what I read. But somehow this struck my fancy, I think for a few basic reasons: 1) it covers a VERY SHORT period in American history--3 months in 1787, 2) It covers ONE EVENT. The writing of the U.S. constitution. 3) I am generally interested in p ...more
Aug 02, 2015 Kathy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, audio
This is a well researched book about the 4 hot summer months of 1787 when a group of men with different ideas, beliefs, and personalities came together in Philadelphia to create the US Constitution. Sometimes I laughed, sometimes I slept, sometimes I was busy taking pictures of the North fire as we sat gridlocked on the freeway but I liked what I heard.
Jul 02, 2008 Darlis rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: janell, robin, cynthia
This is a wonderful telling of the birth of the Constitution. I loved following the ideas back and forth. I enjoyed knowing about the Committee of Postponed Parts. It definitely shows that there were many compromises to made and that everyone needed to "give a little, get a little" to merge a system that might be workable. I was amazed at how many ideas there were on electing a president.

This is wonderfully researched, told with passion and intellectural curiosity, and describes so many of the v
Oct 14, 2015 Dan rated it really liked it
An excellent focus on the Constitutional Convention. Mr. Stewart focuses on the outsized role that slavery played in crafting compromises in forming a legislature and an executive. His premise appears to be that slavery, and individual's and state's views on slavery, was the prime driver in the Constitution's formation.
Oct 04, 2009 jillian rated it really liked it
This was an amazing recap of the men who shaped the Constitution, and the ideas which went into the document that still manages America. So much political theory went into that document, so many debates, so much re-working, so many issues, it's amazing it was ever written. It's amazing the country didn't dissipate under the original Articles of Confederation instead of producing a Constitution. For anyone with even a passing interest in constitutional law, or American history, who wants to under ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • What Kind of Nation: Thomas Jefferson, John Marshall, and the Epic Struggle to Create a United States
  • The Great Upheaval: America and the Birth of the Modern World, 1788-1800
  • A Leap in the Dark: The Struggle to Create the American Republic
  • American Creation: Triumphs and Tragedies at the Founding of the Republic
  • Samuel Adams: Father of the American Revolution
  • 1812: The War That Forged a Nation
  • Founding Myths: Stories That Hide Our Patriotic Past
  • Union 1812: The Americans Who Fought the Second War of Independence
  • Adopted Son: Washington, Lafayette, and the Friendship that Saved the Revolution
  • Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution
  • A Magnificent Catastrophe: The Tumultuous Election of 1800, America's First Presidential Campaign
  • Ratification: The People Debate the Constitution, 1787-1788
  • Samuel Adams: A Life
  • Washington's Secret War: The Hidden History of Valley Forge
  • The Idea of America: Reflections on the Birth of the United States
  • 1775: A Good Year for Revolution
  • Revolutionaries: A New History of the Invention of America
  • American Tempest: How the Boston Tea Party Sparked a Revolution

Share This Book

“As Dr. Franklin progressed through Philadelphia’s republican streets, his regal trappings drove home the message that honor in America grew from talent, not birth.” 1 likes
“by better information or fuller consideration to change opinions…which I once thought right, but found to be otherwise. It is therefore that the older I grow, the more apt I am to doubt my own judgment, and to pay more respect to the judgment of others.” 1 likes
More quotes…