I think that anything that gets people to read, and become more familiar with, the U.S. Constitution is a good thing. For that alone, this book is praised.
This edition is a modern retelling of the Constitution. Much as scholars do with Shakespeare, or even the Bible, this edition attempts to simplify the document. It does so by rearranging the layout of the Constitution so that it might make more sense in a consecutive format. It also highlights each section so that the reader knows what it is discussing, and it defines words that the editors think the modern reader might not understand.
The question for me is: is this necessary?
I read Shakespeare as if it were lifted off the pages of the Quarto, though if I were sharing it with students, I would pick a friendlier, easier-to-read edition. I don’t read Greek, or Latin,or even German, so I can’t say that I’ve read any of the Bible in any of the earliest editions, but I am comfortable with the older King James Edition language.
The U.S. Constitution is only a couple hundred years old and the language hasn’t changed that significantly (we are, after all, still reading Shakespeare, which is over 500 years old). And the subject matter, ‘laws’ essentially, is still kind of dry reading for most of us. That hasn’t changed. For this, I’m not sure that this modern edition is necessary. In fact, this could be more confusing to the student who might think that the Constitution is laid out in the fashion presented here (despite editor’s preface to the contrary).
I didn’t learn anything new to my understanding of the Constitution (my knowledge is probably a little above average) and I’m not convinced that the new formatting is truly helpful. Is the original so convoluted that anyone who takes on the reading of the document isn’t going to understand it?
Reading the Constitution again, even in this slightly altered form was a treat. This is one of those documents you think you know, based on your elementary school knowledge, but actually reading it again, brings it to a new light.
Looking for a good book? The Constitution of the United States of America is a document that should be read by all Americans, but do they need a re-edited version, such as this, or is the original good enough?
I received a digital copy of this book from the publisher, through Netgalley, in exchange for an honest review.
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The Constitution of the United States of America Modern Edition: Rearranged and Edited for Ease of Reading
author/editor: Henry Bain
publisher: Greenleaf Book Group Press
hardcover, 152 pages