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Fault Lines in the Constitution

Written by: Cynthia Levinson,Sanford Levinson
Narrated by: Mark Bramhall,Arthur Morey,Kimberly Farr,Erin Spencer,Adenrele Ojo
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Publisher's Summary

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 listeners 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 these features in our system for granted. But they came about through haggling in an overheated room in 1787, and we're still experiencing the ramifications.

Each chapter in this timely and thoughtful exploration of the Constitution's creation begins with a story - all but one of them true - that connects directly back to a section of the document that forms the basis of our society and government. From the award-winning team - Cynthia Levinson, children's book author, and Sanford Levinson, constitutional law scholar - Fault Lines in the Constitution will encourage exploration and discussion from young and old listeners alike.

Read by Mark Bramhall, Arthur Morey, Kimberly Farr, Erin Spencer, and Adenrele Ojo.

©2017 Cynthia Levinson, Sanford Levinson (P)2017 Listening Library

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  • Eric E. Haas
  • 2017-09-12

Fantastic Primer, Extremely Thought-Provoking

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Thought Provoking, Interesting

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Believe it or not, I considered this book to be a real "page turner".

This was apparently intended to be a middle-school/high-school age primer on the workings of -- and problems with -- the US Constitution. The authors, a world-renowned Constitutional Law scholar and his wife, an accomplished author, describe in accessible detail the highlights of the US Constitution. Interesting background stories are liberally peppered in to make the material more relevant to the less-informed reader. However, while the book may have been targeted at those in their early teens, the issues discussed are sophisticated indeed. Fine points of the US Constitution are compared with constitutions of individual states, as well as those of other countries. We are left with the distinct impression that our Constitution was, indeed, a spectacular accomplishment. HOWEVER, it is similarly clear that some of the compromises made at the onset, as well as some of the key features, have demonstrated themselves to be problematic in many ways (and could cause serious problems in several specific circumstances which haven't yet occurred). Among the radical, but arguably pragmatic suggestions is to call a new Constitutional Convention and perhaps start again from scratch! The authors themselves have an interesting dialogue with each other at the end discussing pros and cons of this quite radical suggestion.

So -- this book should appeal to many readers:
- Young or just relatively uninformed folks who'd like to better understand how our federal government is designed to work and why,
- More sophisticated readers who enjoy studying history,
- Folks who are interested in comparing how the US constitution does things compared with how other constitutions (i.e., those of individual states and of other countries) do them.

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  • Philo
  • 2019-02-26

A tremendous work. Clear, thorough, thoughtful

I am in my 34th year of teaching this at the college level. At this moment I'm doing it again, and sought a refresher and some new views. I was well rewarded here. This is one of the finest works I have seen. It has plenty of sophistication for an adult. It is very well-written and edited. It gives a good sense of what the framers faced, and what constraints they were under. They cut a lot of deals (perhaps unimaginable in these times in our USA), casting big shadows across our lives today. After the basics I got in high school government class (pretty miserably delivered, actually), this book would be a first recommendation for deepening understanding. If there is a slant one way or another, there is enough distance from the subject, and enough restraint, to not be bothersome to a reasonable listener.

Of special interest to me are the seeming design flaws in the alleged democracy in our country. For example, I as a voter for the U.S. Senate have a tiny micro-sliver of the political power of a voter in some small or rural states. This allows moneyed interests to target their attention to a few backwaters (pardon me) and lap me and my fellow members of a populous and prosperous state in federal power. This allows plenty more money per capita to be lavished on those fortunate voters, or more probably, concentrated into the hands of the elites influential in those places. And this is merely a sample of the distortions laid out plainly here.