Michael Nolan PhD
It is hard to imagine nowadays that, for many years, France and Germany considered each other as "arch enemies." And yet, for well over a century, these two countries waged verbal and ultimately violent wars against each other. This study explores a particularly virulent phase during which each of these two nations projected certain assumptions about national character onto the other - distorted images, motivated by antipathy, fear, and envy, which contributed to the growing hostility between the two countries in the years before the First World War. Most remarkably, as the author discovered, the qualities each country ascribed to its chief adversary appeared to be exaggerated or negative versions of precisely those qualities that it perceived to be lacking or inadequate in itself. Moreover, banishingundesirabletraits and projecting them onto another people was also an essential step in the consolidation of national identity. As such, it established a pattern that has become all too familiar to students of nationalism and xenophobia in recent decades. This study shows that antagonism between states is not a fact of nature but socially constructed.
Kevin R C Gutzman PhD
In James Madison and the Making of America, historian Kevin Gutzman looks beyond the way James Madison is traditionally seen -- as "The Father of the Constitution” -- to find a more complex and sometimes contradictory portrait of this influential Founding Father and the ways in which he influenced the spirit of today's United States.
Instead of an idealized portrait of Madison, Gutzman treats readers to the flesh-and-blood story of a man who often performed his founding deeds in spite of himself: Madison’s fame rests on his participation in the writing of The Federalist Papers and his role in drafting the Bill of Rights and Constitution. Today, his contribution to those documents is largely misunderstood. He thought that the Bill of Rights was unnecessary and insisted that it not be included in the Constitution, a document he found entirely inadequate and predicted would soon fail.
Madison helped to create the first American political party, the first party to call itself “Republican”, but only after he had argued that political parties, in general, were harmful. Madison served as Secretary of State and then as President during the early years of the United States and the War of 1812; however, the American foreign policy he implemented in 1801-1817 ultimately resulted in the British burning down the Capitol and the White House.
In so many ways, the contradictions both in Madison’s thinking and in the way he governed foreshadowed the conflicted state of our Union now. His greatest legacy—the disestablishment of Virginia’s state church and adoption of the libertarian Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom—is often omitted from discussion of his career. Yet, understanding the way in which Madison saw the relationship between the church and state is key to understanding the real man. Kevin Gutzman's James Madison and the Making of America promises to become the standard biography of our fourth President.
Burton Peretti PhD
In The Leading Man, Burton W. Peretti explores the development of the cinematic presidential image. He sets the scene in chapter 1 to show us how the chief executive, beginning with George Washington, was positioned to assume the mantle of cultural leading man. As an early star figure in the young republic, the president served as a symbol of national survival and wish fulfillment. The president, as head of government and head of state, had the potential to portray a powerful and charismatic role.
Presidents and other politicians have been criticized for cheapening their offices by hiring image and advertising consultants and staging their public events. Peretti analyzes the evolution and the significance of this interaction to trace the convoluted history of the presidential cinematic image. He demonstrates how movies have been the main force in promoting appearance and drama over the substance of governing, and how Americans’ lives today may be dominated by entertainment at the expense of their engagement as citizens.
Kevin R C Gutzman PhD
In The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Constitution, readers will follow the Supreme Court as it uses the Constitution as a fig leaf to cover its blatant seizing of the people's right to govern themselves through elections. Gutzman unveils the radical inconsistency between constitutional law and the rule of law, and shows why and how the Supreme Court should be reined in to the proper role assigned to it by the Founders.
Kevin R C Gutzman PhD
Virginia's American Revolution follows the Virginia revolutionaries from their decision for independence on May 15, 1776, through the following 60 years_when the last of them finally passed from the scene. To their surprise, the decision to break with Great Britain entailed reconsideration of virtually all of their major political and social institutions, from the established church, their aristocratic state government, and feudal land tenures to slavery and their federal relations with the other American states. Some of these issues, such as the place of the Church of England in the newly republican Virginia, received quick resolutions; others, such as the nature of the relationship between the elite and other men, were not so easily decided. All of them were considered against the backdrop of Virginia's decline from preeminence in the Revolution and early Republic to the position of just another state in the age of Jackson. By following Virginia's American Revolution from start to finish, this account shows why so many revolutionaries in the Old Dominion died doubting that their great struggle had been worth the effort.
Thomas E. Woods Jr and Kevin R C Gutzman
"Woods and Gutzman (two bestselling authors in thePolitically Incorrect Guide series) appeal to both left and right in this constitutionalist jeremiad. Liberals will agree about the unconstitutionality of the draft, warrantless wiretapping and presidential signing statements. Conservatives will agree about the unconstitutionality of school busing, bans on school prayer and Roosevelt's suspension of the gold standard. The common thread is the authors' brief for a federal government strictly limited to the powers explicitly granted by the Constitution.
The authors' exegeses of the Constitution and court decisions, heavy on original intent arguments, are lucid and telling, but not always consistently supportive of liberty: their reading of the First Amendment implies that state governments may restrict speech, religion and the press. Their attack on expansive federal power-even federal spending on cancer research-is perhaps too successful; it inadvertently supports scholars like Daniel Lazare who argue that the Constitution is too antiquated, constraining and hard to change to keep up with a modern consensus on civil rights and good governance."
—Publishers Weekly review
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