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Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws That Affect Us Today

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  253 ratings  ·  73 reviews
Many of the political issues we struggle with today have their roots in the US Constitution.
Husband-and-wife team Cynthia and Sanford Levinson take readers back to the creation of this historic document and discuss how contemporary problems were first introduced--then they offer possible solutions. Think Electoral College, gerrymandering, even the Senate. Many of us take t
Hardcover, 240 pages
Published September 1st 2017 by Peachtree Publishing Company
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4.02  · 
Rating details
 ·  253 ratings  ·  73 reviews

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May 30, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Throw out the textbooks and let's just put this in classrooms! In almost every political debate, the Constitution is brought in but I'd wager my personal library that more people don't understand the history and the document than do.

The structure works wonderfully for young people. The Levinsons describe a current case or controversy, then skip back to the history of this particular section's creation with "Meanwhile Back in 1787..." followed by an analysis and discussion of how this issue is ha
A book that reminds us that the U.S. Constitution is not just meant to be revered, but also openly criticized. After all, it is a living document that is always seeking to form a more perfect union.
Kris Patrick
Jan 29, 2019 marked it as abandoned
I had big plans for this book.

There are nice things about being married to a Constitution-loving attorney who studied history as an undergraduate. He consistently impresses my parents and sister with his Jeopardy and Trivial Pursuit cleverness! A personal tour docent when we travel to Washington DC! I even know how to eFile court documents should I ever want to sue someone!

And there are parts that really suck. I can never win a single political argument, not one. I was convinced this book woul
Apr 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Engaging, solid nonfiction read! I appreciated the graphics, inserts, and quotes, and the way the information is presented. I don't know that most teens would necessarily elect to read it on their own, but it would be super handy in an instructional context. I plan on sharing with some history/government teachers!
Laura Gardner
Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐/5 for FAULT LINES IN THE CONSTITUTION by @cylevinson
I’m in the middle of planning a debate unit for our 8th graders for after they study the constitutional amendments and this book will be one of our main sources. It’s SO RICH with information about the debates at the constitutional convention in 1787 and how those debates affect current issues like immigration, gerrymandering, the Electoral College and voting laws. I love the comparisons to laws and processes in other countries
Clare Lund
Aug 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
Engaging, informative, and thought-provoking read about our Constitution and the intentions of our Founding Fathers. Does it still meet our needs today? In many ways... no. The writing style makes this book accessible for ages 10 and up.
Cindy Mitchell *Kiss the Book*
Levinson, Cynthia and Sanford Levinson Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Framers, their fights, and the flaws that affect us today, 225 pages. Peachtree, 2017. $20.

While the Constitution of the United States is a brilliant, ground-breaking document, no document or form of government is absolutely perfect. And there is no way the men of 200 plus years ago could predict the changes to our culture, economy, and way of life in the future. They did the best they could. Levinson and Levinson identi
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What a great idea for a book for young readers, and for readers of all ages! Perfect for a former political science major like me. The book is packed with so many interesting and provocative facts, tidbits from history, issues, and questions. It leaves the reader with a great deal to think and to talk with others about regarding the U.S. constitution and the myriad of ways that it affects our government and our lives today. If Fault Lines is illuminating, it is also distressing. There is much ab ...more
Anna Smithberger
Oct 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is a great book, both as an intro to the Constitution and as a critique of the USA’s most important governing document.
Tabrizia Jones
I learned so much about the US constitution from reading this book. I believe everyone in the country needs to read this book so they have a better understanding of how our country works.
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: middle grade readers
Recommended to Dolly by: Edie
Despite the Conventions best efforts and the provisions made to be able to amend the document, there are long-lasting and potentially unforeseen consequences of its verbiage which continue to affect us today.

The narrative explains that the founding fathers disagreed significantly on many of the principles discussed in the Constitution and that only by a great deal of skillful negotiation and compromise, aided by the foresight to allow for amendments, were they able to craft the document that ha
Sep 23, 2017 marked it as to-read
Note: I accessed a digital review copy of this book through Edelweiss.
Tyler N
Mar 04, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Hard to put down, very informative and overall great novel.
Ms. Yingling
Jun 29, 2017 rated it liked it
ARC provided by the Publisher

This book addresses a variety of points in the Constitution, starting with specific cases that show an inherent problem with the way the document was originally set up. Each case is introduced, followed by an explanation of "Meanwhile, Back in 1787..." that discusses why the framers of the Constitution set up the wording the way it was, and "So What's the Big Problem", which discusses the "fault lines". Different ways that these problems are addressed in various stat
Dec 02, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Read it. More of a 4.5 but perhaps I’m unfairly singing it for not touching on the right to bear arms, which I really wanted to read. This should be required reading for all middle and/or high school students. The authors combine the perfect set of knowledge and skills to lay out the construction of and issues with parts of the Constitution. Quite horrifying, the shortcomings of that document, but I fear I fall on Cynthia’s side in their discussion of the last chapter: that calling a new convent ...more
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I know this is marketed as a kid's book, but I think adults that aren't experts in constitutional law should read it too. I learned a lot about the flaws in our constitution that I have never thought of before, such as the fact that there is no formal process by which our country would run if there was an emergency that killed many members of the Congress/Senate. Or that, despite several bills being introduced, the Senate never passed an anti-lynching law, which resulted in hundreds of murderers ...more
Mar 09, 2018 rated it liked it
This was a fascinating look at the US Constitution and all its faults and ambiguities. The Levinsons do a fantastic job explaining how the Framers came up with the parts of the Constitution, how problems arose, what has happened over the last 200 years because of what is in the Constitution and how others do the same type of thing. There is a lot of history here that is never talked about in history classes and is good information to know.  It was particularly fascinating to hear how other state ...more
Jennifer Mangler
Mar 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Terrific resource to help teens and adults learn how to think about and critically examine the U.S. Constitution.

*side note: do NOT read the ebook version. The formatting is truly awful and makes some sections almost impossible to read.
I learned so about our country's government and history from this book. An excellent resource that delves deep.
Kyra Nay
Aug 28, 2017 rated it really liked it
A very readable and accessible exploration of the Constitution - the decisions and compromises made by the Framers and the ramifications of those choices throughout U.S. history, with an emphasis on modern political debates, issues, and arguments. There are many fascinating, challenging, and thoughtful discussion prompts throughout the book - I hope middle school and high school civics teachers make use of this book in their classrooms.

References to current political realities abound, which mak
I think the content is great, but the organization of the text is not. This is not Cynthia Levinson's fault, it's 100% a publisher issue. The text is in columns, like a textbook, but it just makes everything look like a mess. A 6th grader would struggle to find key information on the page. The publisher could've used way better graphic design to help convey the information. There's no reason they shouldn't have, given the new and innovative ways other publishers are designing youth/YA nonfiction ...more
Richie Partington
Dec 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
Richie’s Picks: FAULT LINES IN THE CONSTITUTION: THE FRAMERS, THEIR FIGHTS, AND THE FLAWS THAT AFFECT US TODAY by Cynthia Levinson & Sanford Levinson, Peachtree, September 2017, 240p., ISBN: 978-1-56145-945-2

“I want to grow up to be a politician
And take over this beautiful land”
-- The Byrds (1971)

“The Articles [of Confederation] had given Congress few powers beyond making treaties with other countries and printing money, which turned out to be nearly worthless. Probably worst of all, the nat
Oct 22, 2017 rated it really liked it
This is technically a kids book, but it would be a great conversation starter for adults concerned about the state of the Union.
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you want to know what’s wrong with our political system, start here. Ostensibly for young adults, this is a must read for every American above the age of about twelve. Fault Lines combines high readability with tremendous historical depth. It expertly links complexities and ambiguities the Framers intentionally or unintentionally built into the Constitution with 21st century manifestations of those “fault lines” that our forebears never imagined.
Quinby6696 Frank
Aug 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This excellent book should be required reading for every middle and high school student in the country. It's well-organized and easy to follow despite being chock full of information about the Constitution. Explanations are effectively accompanied by direct relevant quotes from the document itself. The authors use well-chosen anecdotes to illustrate their points and sidebars add interesting information to enrich the text. Who knew a college student term paper was the impetus behind the ratificat ...more
Feb 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
I agree with most reviewers that every American should read this book at some point. I consider myself fairly knowledgable about America's legal processes and I was still amazed at how much I learned. I think there really are so many things that we, as citizens, take for granted because we don't necessarily understand the foundation of our own government - this book helps make things more clear.
I also found the book to be fairly neutral and unbiased - looking at the issues from multiple sides an
Oct 19, 2017 rated it it was amazing
If you're a US citizen who can't understand why Congress can't seem to accomplish anything....and if you've wondered why we end up with Presidents who didn't win the majority of the popular vote, then this book's for you. It's smart, entertaining, easy to understand and it gets to the heart of our problems. It's worth your time.
May 18, 2018 rated it really liked it
As savvy as this nation's founders were and as inspiring as the Constitution may be, guaranteeing certain rights and paving the way for how we do things today, the document isn't perfect. In this well-written and engaging book, the authors tackle some of the fault lines in this important document, pointing out decisions that were rooted in compromise or areas that were left unaddressed or left open to interpretation, and as the nation grew in size, some of those small problems became even more c ...more
Chris Demer
May 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, law, politics
This is a very readable book that sets forth the framing of the Constitution in light of the debates of the framers and the results of some of the flaws incorporated in it that affect us now.

The constitution was developed over some period in 1787. The Framers-the "Founding Fathers" had many debates as to the construction, the wording and the laws enveloped in this document. While the thoughts of many esteemed and educated men went into its development, and it was written with thoughtful foresigh
Meg Galbreath
Feb 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I thought I was fairly smart about how our government worked and how the Constitution frames democracy. Through easy to read text and drawings I found out I know very, very little. Aimed towards upper middle school/early high school level.
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