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The Right To Vote The Contested History Of Democracy In The United States
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The Right To Vote The Contested History Of Democracy In The United States

3.99  ·  Rating details ·  146 Ratings  ·  16 Reviews
Most Americans take for granted their right to vote, whether they choose to exercise it or not. But the history of suffrage in the U.S. is, in fact,the story of a struggle to achieve this right by our society's marginalized groups. In The Right to Vote, Duke historian Alexander Keyssar explores the evolution of suffrage over the course of the nation's history. Examining th ...more
Paperback, 512 pages
Published August 15th 2001 by Basic Books (first published 2000)
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Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a hard book to get through, but it's worthwhile. It shows that the right to vote was actually never a constitutional guarantee and though the Arc of the right to vote does eventually bend toward full suffrage, it went through some back alleys first. The arguments against womens suffrage were the most hilarious. And of course the constant efforts at black disenfranchisement were unbelievable and totally unsurprising. For better treatment of that, read Give us the Ballot, which is much mor ...more
Matthew Rohn
Jul 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book does what it's trying to do very well - a comprehensive history of political movements and policy changes around voting rights in the US, well written and cleanly tracing the links between suffrage movements for different groups and the similarities\differences between the political incentives involved. The chapter about conditions after the 2000 election reads more like an Atlantic article than a history text but still provides good info
Frank Stein
Dec 17, 2016 rated it really liked it
When Alexander Keyssar of Harvard University started to research voting in America, he was shocked to find that nobody had done a comprehensive history of the subject. So he set out to do it himself, and he did so marvelously.

Keyssar shows that the expansion of the right to vote was by no means unilinear. Although in the years after the American Revolution, real and personal property requirements on voting were abandoned, they were often replaced by tax-paying requirements which lasted for deca
Thomas Stevenson
Jun 08, 2012 rated it really liked it
In 2012 the right to vote is being contested again. Republican state legislatures have passed laws requiring prospective voters have IDs. The aim is to prevent voter fraud, a crime even some Republicans acknowledge rarely happens. A look at the history of voting in the U.S. reveals that this is nothing new. In a comprehensive yet highly readable study, Keyssar lays out U.S. voting and the close relationship between those who get to vote and social class. A fascinating read.
Anthony Schein
Mar 02, 2007 rated it liked it
i got this book for free at a conference here i totally pissed off the keynote. the book was okay. the conference was lame.
May 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
The history of voting rights in this country.
Patrick Sprunger
Mar 15, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Americans who never take the time to learn about the history of suffrage grow up assuming the vote was expanded systematically, steadily, and with near universal support. We assume the opponents to universal suffrage were Archie Bunker types, recalcitrant members of an insecure old guard. We do not immediately picture mainstream, legitimate political parties and their supporters as tangible enemies of democracy. The real narrative of the history of American liberty takes a surprising form, with ...more
Dec 18, 2007 rated it really liked it
This must be the definitive history of voting in America. I hold back from giving it five stars because it was a little more than what I was looking for, but this is as thorough as I have ever come across. Also, I love charts and graphs, and he has a great array of tables at the end. Interesting tidbit was the role war played throughout American history in expanding the right to vote. Also, though we all know how the right to vote gradually expanded, but what many of us didn't realize was how th ...more
Michelle Mayfield
Apr 10, 2016 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
This was an amazing book to learn about the history of voting rights in our country. As recently as the 1950's there were states that allowed non-citizens to vote. There were so many interesting details that I learned about how our nation went from allowing only white, male, land owners to vote to today when almost every citizen now has the right to vote. I was also surprised by the groups that are still not allowed to vote. In some states anyone who has been in prison can never vote again. If y ...more
May 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
This is a great account of the long and twisty history of the right to vote in the U.S. so far. I learned a lot that surprised me, and a few things that made me very sad. Most striking is that the language justifying exclusion in terms of unworthiness to participate or the risk of fraud has been the same for so long. So much her is applicable to current voter suppression efforts and other debates about how and when we vote. It is at least reassuring that it is usually two steps forward and one s ...more
Apr 05, 2007 rated it it was ok
Shelves: nonfiction
It was a pendulum of suffrage expansion and contraction. Got kind of droll after 200 pages. The man knows his stuff but really, how long can you keep reading up on the same thing over and over again. The only surprise in the book is that people actually want the vote, after all that i would have just quit and moved up to Canada.
Scott Caplan
Mar 31, 2007 is currently reading it
Parts of it were assigned for a voting rights seminar senior year. I quite enjoyed those parts, and the topic, so I'd like to get around to reading the whole thing (though Gordon Wood will come first).
Sep 26, 2012 is currently reading it
Informative and provocative. Challenging my assumption about the history of voting in the US and the philosophical underpinnings of various approaches to voting, to say nothing of the different not so laudatory factors which have been applied as well.
Ben Reese
May 14, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Great 1000 foot history of voting rights in America. More detail about some subjects, like the Voting Rights Act, would have been nice. But very engaging read.
Jan 27, 2013 rated it really liked it
Such an interesting book on a really interesting topic. My favorite of the books we've read so far for American Political History.
Olivia Radics
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Jul 04, 2014
Alex Thoresen
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Paul Retkwa
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Apr 30, 2014
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Nov 20, 2015
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Francesca Perri
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Tim Metayer
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Apr 08, 2011
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Alexander Keyssar is an American historian, and the Matthew W. Stirling Jr. Professor of History and Social Policy at Harvard University.
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