Book Review: The Original Argument

United States Constitution

The Original Argument: The Federalists' Case for the Constitution, Adapted for the 21st CenturyOkay, I admit it. You have to rise to a certain level of dorkiness to get excited about a book about The Federalist Papers. Yes, I have arrived. I have always had more than a passing interest in The Constitution and American History. In fact, I’ve spent untold hours researching and reading about The Founders, their ideas, their motivations and their inspiration for what is without a doubt, the greatest founding document ever written in the history of the world. The most interesting thing is that I always thought that I understood The Constitution, until about 5 years ago when I read The Federalist Papers.

The Federalist Papers bring a whole new understanding of what The Founders meant when they wrote The Constitution, as well as their logic behind it. Today, many seem to believe that The Supreme Court is the venue for determining The Founders’ intent to determine the application of law, but that is simply not true. In fact, The Federalist Papers explain in great detail what their intent was, so one need look no further to know precisely what they meant. I firmly believe that one can not possibly understand the proper application of Constitutional Law without first reading and understanding The Federalist Papers. They are written in 17th Century English, so it’s difficult for most of us to fully understand it all. This fact was the basis for the project that resulted in this book.

In his senior year at the University of Kansas, Joshua Charles was frustrated with the overreach of our Federal Government and ultimately decided to “translate” Federalist Number 1 into “modern” English. After sharing it with friends and family, they were surprised at how much it clarified their understanding of The Constitution. He then heard Glenn Beck suggest on his program that “someone” should make The Federalist Papers easier for people in today’s world to understand. This encouraged Mr. Charles to continue the project and translate the entire set of publications.

I won’t tell the whole story, but suffice it to say that Mr. Charles continued the project and after months of trying, was finally able to put the manuscript into the hands of Mr. Beck. He pursued the monumental task of having the translation vetted and fact-checked by scholars and historians in pursuit of publishing it. The end result is the aforementioned book. Though I have read the original Federalist Papers many times, the book adds a level of simplicity to them that makes it much more clear to us regular folks.

Even if you’re not a Glenn Beck fan (which I’m not particularly), don’t let the “author” name dissuade you. This book is not about politics. In fact, Mr. Beck provides only a limited amount of commentary. The overwhelming majority of the content is The Federalist Papers themselves. The book does not include all 85 of The Federalist Papers, but instead focuses on the more prominent ones that relate to the issues of the day. Overall, it’s a fantastic book for those of us that enjoy History.


+Kevin A. Nye

The Original Argument:

The Federalists’ Case for the Constitution, Adapted for the 21st Century

The Original Argument: The Federalists' Case for the Constitution, Adapted for the 21st Century

By: Glenn Beck, with Joshua Charles Book Description

Glenn Beck revisited Thomas Paine’s famous pre-Revolutionary War call to action in his #1 New York Times bestseller Glenn Beck’s Common Sense. Now he brings his historical acumen and political savvy to this fresh, new interpretation of The Federalist Papers, the 18th-century collection of political essays that defined and shaped our Constitution and laid bare the “original argument” between states’ rights and big federal government–a debate as relevant and urgent today as it was at the birth of our nation.

Adapting a selection of these essential essays–pseudonymously authored by the now well-documented triumvirate of Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay–for a contemporary audience, Glenn Beck has had them reworked into “modern” English so as to be thoroughly accessible to anyone seeking a better understanding of the Founding Fathers’ intent and meaning when laying the groundwork of our government. Beck provides his own illuminating commentary and annotations and, for a number of the essays, has brought together the viewpoints of both liberal and conservative historians and scholars, making this a fair and insightful perspective on the historical works that remain the primary source for interpreting Constitutional law and the rights of American citizens.

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The Original Argument: The Federalists' Case for the Constitution, Adapted for the 21st Century

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