Search Results for "america-s-constitution-a-biography"

America's Constitution

America's Constitution

A Biography

  • Author: Akhil Reed Amar
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN: 1588364879
  • Category: History
  • Page: 672
  • View: 6580
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In America’s Constitution, one of this era’s most accomplished constitutional law scholars, Akhil Reed Amar, gives the first comprehensive account of one of the world’s great political texts. Incisive, entertaining, and occasionally controversial, this “biography” of America’s framing document explains not only what the Constitution says but also why the Constitution says it. We all know this much: the Constitution is neither immutable nor perfect. Amar shows us how the story of this one relatively compact document reflects the story of America more generally. (For example, much of the Constitution, including the glorious-sounding “We the People,” was lifted from existing American legal texts, including early state constitutions.) In short, the Constitution was as much a product of its environment as it was a product of its individual creators’ inspired genius. Despite the Constitution’s flaws, its role in guiding our republic has been nothing short of amazing. Skillfully placing the document in the context of late-eighteenth-century American politics, America’s Constitution explains, for instance, whether there is anything in the Constitution that is unamendable; the reason America adopted an electoral college; why a president must be at least thirty-five years old; and why–for now, at least–only those citizens who were born under the American flag can become president. From his unique perspective, Amar also gives us unconventional wisdom about the Constitution and its significance throughout the nation’s history. For one thing, we see that the Constitution has been far more democratic than is conventionally understood. Even though the document was drafted by white landholders, a remarkably large number of citizens (by the standards of 1787) were allowed to vote up or down on it, and the document’s later amendments eventually extended the vote to virtually all Americans. We also learn that the Founders’ Constitution was far more slavocratic than many would acknowledge: the “three fifths” clause gave the South extra political clout for every slave it owned or acquired. As a result, slaveholding Virginians held the presidency all but four of the Republic’s first thirty-six years, and proslavery forces eventually came to dominate much of the federal government prior to Lincoln’s election. Ambitious, even-handed, eminently accessible, and often surprising, America’s Constitution is an indispensable work, bound to become a standard reference for any student of history and all citizens of the United States.

America's Constitution

America's Constitution

A Biography

  • Author: Akhil Reed Amar
  • Publisher: Random House Incorporated
  • ISBN: 0812972724
  • Category: Political Science
  • Page: 655
  • View: 4480
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Offers an analysis of the history and tenets of the U.S. Constitution, detailing the original intent of the creators of the document, answering questions about the text, and critically assessing the evolution of the Bill of Rights and all other amendments.

America's Constitution

America's Constitution

A Biography

  • Author: Akhil Reed Amar
  • Publisher: Random House Incorporated
  • ISBN: 0812972724
  • Category: Political Science
  • Page: 655
  • View: 1752
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Offers an analysis of the history and tenets of the U.S. Constitution, detailing the original intent of the creators of the document, answering questions about the text, and critically assessing the evolution of the Bill of Rights and all other amendments.

America's Unwritten Constitution

America's Unwritten Constitution

The Precedents and Principles We Live by

  • Author: Akhil Reed Amar
  • Publisher: Basic Books (AZ)
  • ISBN: 0465029574
  • Category: History
  • Page: 615
  • View: 1207
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A renowned constitutional scholar explores the little-understood relationship between the written Constitution and the many external factors that shape our interpretations of this foundational document.

The Constitution Today

The Constitution Today

Timeless Lessons for the Issues of Our Era

  • Author: Akhil Reed Amar
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • ISBN: 0465096344
  • Category: Law
  • Page: 464
  • View: 5256
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"I don't think there is anyone in the academy these days capable of more patient and attentive reading of the constitutional text than Akhil Amar."--Jeremy Waldron, New York Review of Books When the stories that lead our daily news involve momentous constitutional questions, present-minded journalists and busy citizens cannot always see the stakes clearly. In The Constitution Today, Akhil Reed Amar, America's preeminent constitutional scholar, considers the biggest and most bitterly contested debates of the last two decades--from gun control to gay marriage, affirmative action to criminal procedure, presidential dynasties to congressional dysfunction, Bill Clinton's impeachment to Obamacare. He shows how the Constitution's text, history, and structure are a crucial repository of collective wisdom, providing specific rules and grand themes relevant to every organ of the American body politic. Leading readers through the constitutional questions at stake in each episode while outlining his abiding views regarding the direction constitutional law must go, Amar offers an essential guide for anyone seeking to understand America's Constitution and its relevance today.

Plain, Honest Men

Plain, Honest Men

The Making of the American Constitution

  • Author: Richard Beeman
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN: 9781588367266
  • Category: History
  • Page: 544
  • View: 7437
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In May 1787, in an atmosphere of crisis, delegates met in Philadelphia to design a radically new form of government. Distinguished historian Richard Beeman captures as never before the dynamic of the debate and the characters of the men who labored that historic summer. Virtually all of the issues in dispute—the extent of presidential power, the nature of federalism, and, most explosive of all, the role of slavery—have continued to provoke conflict throughout our nation's history. This unprecedented book takes readers behind the scenes to show how the world's most enduring constitution was forged through conflict, compromise, and fragile consensus. As Gouverneur Morris, delegate of Pennsylvania, noted: "While some have boasted it as a work from Heaven, others have given it a less righteous origin. I have many reasons to believe that it is the work of plain, honest men."

A Brilliant Solution

A Brilliant Solution

Inventing the American Constitution

  • Author: Carol Berkin
  • Publisher: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
  • ISBN: 9780547537818
  • Category: History
  • Page: 320
  • View: 7863
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We know--and love--the story of the American Revolution, from the Declaration of Independence to Cornwallis's defeat. But our first government was a disaster and the country was in a terrible crisis. So when a group of men traveled to Philadelphia in the summer of 1787 to save a nation in danger of collapse, they had no great expectations for the meeting that would make history. But all the ideas, arguments, and compromises led to a great thing: a constitution and a government were born that have surpassed the founders' greatest hopes. Revisiting all the original documents and using her deep knowledge of eighteenth-century history and politics, Carol Berkin takes a fresh look at the men who framed the Constitution, the issues they faced, and the times they lived in. Berkin transports the reader into the hearts and minds of the founders, exposing their fears and their limited expectations of success.

American Original

American Original

The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia

  • Author: Joan Biskupic
  • Publisher: Sarah Crichton Books
  • ISBN: 9781429990011
  • Category: Biography & Autobiography
  • Page: 448
  • View: 6696
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The first full-scale biography of the Supreme Court's most provocative—and influential—justice If the U.S. Supreme Court teaches us anything, it is that almost everything is open to interpretation. Almost. But what's inarguable is that, while the Court has witnessed a succession of larger-than-life jurists in its two-hundred-year-plus history, it has never seen the likes of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia. Combative yet captivating, infuriating yet charming, the outspoken jurist remains a source of curiosity to observers across the political spectrum and on both sides of the ideological divide. And after nearly a quarter century on the bench, Scalia may be at the apex of his power. Agree with him or not, Scalia is "the justice who has had the most important impact over the years on how we think and talk about the law," as the Harvard law dean Elena Kagan, now U.S. Solicitor General, once put it. Scalia electrifies audiences: to hear him speak is to remember him; to read his writing is to find his phrases permanently affixed in one's mind. But for all his public grandstanding, Scalia has managed to elude biographers—until now. In American Original: The Life and Constitution of Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia, the veteran Washington journalist Joan Biskupic presents for the first time a detailed portrait of this complicated figure and provides a comprehensive narrative that will engage Scalia's adherents and critics alike. Drawing on her long tenure covering the Court, and on unprecedented access to the justice, Biskupic delves into the circumstances of his rise and the formation of his rigorous approach to the bench. Beginning with the influence of Scalia's childhood in a first-generation Italian American home, American Original takes us through his formative years, his role in the Nixon-Ford administrations, and his trajectory through the Reagan revolution. Biskupic's careful reporting culminates with the tumult of the contemporary Supreme Court—where it was and where it's going, with Scalia helping to lead the charge. Even as Democrats control the current executive and legislative branches, the judicial branch remains rooted in conservatism. President Obama will likely appoint several new justices to the Court—but it could be years before those appointees change the tenor of the law. With his keen mind, authoritarian bent, and contentious rhetorical style, Scalia is a distinct and persuasive presence, and his tenure is far from over. This new book shows us the man in power: his world, his journey, and the far-reaching consequences of the transformed legal landscape.

Original Meanings

Original Meanings

Politics and Ideas in the Making of the Constitution

  • Author: Jack N. Rakove
  • Publisher: Vintage
  • ISBN: 0307434516
  • Category: Political Science
  • Page: 464
  • View: 3246
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From abortion to same-sex marriage, today's most urgent political debates will hinge on this two-part question: What did the United States Constitution originally mean and who now understands its meaning best? Rakove chronicles the Constitution from inception to ratification and, in doing so, traces its complex weave of ideology and interest, showing how this document has meant different things at different times to different groups of Americans. From the Trade Paperback edition.

Dred Scott and the Problem of Constitutional Evil

Dred Scott and the Problem of Constitutional Evil

  • Author: Mark A. Graber
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • ISBN: 9781139457071
  • Category: History
  • Page: N.A
  • View: 8280
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Dred Scott and the Problem of Constitutional Evil , first published in 2006, concerns what is entailed by pledging allegiance to a constitutional text and tradition saturated with concessions to evil. The Constitution of the United States was originally understood as an effort to mediate controversies between persons who disputed fundamental values, and did not offer a vision of the good society. In order to form a 'more perfect union' with slaveholders, late-eighteenth-century citizens fashioned a constitution that plainly compelled some injustices and was silent or ambiguous on other questions of fundamental right. This constitutional relationship could survive only as long as a bisectional consensus was required to resolve all constitutional questions not settled in 1787. Dred Scott challenges persons committed to human freedom to determine whether antislavery northerners should have provided more accommodations for slavery than were constitutionally strictly necessary or risked the enormous destruction of life and property that preceded Lincoln's new birth of freedom.

Our Undemocratic Constitution

Our Undemocratic Constitution

Where the Constitution Goes Wrong (and how We the People Can Correct It)

  • Author: Sanford Levinson
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press
  • ISBN: 0195365577
  • Category: Law
  • Page: 249
  • View: 3634
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Levinson argues that too many of our Constitution's provisions promote either unjust or ineffective government. Under the existing blueprint, we can neither rid ourselves of incompetent presidents nor assure continuity of government following catastrophic attacks. Less important, perhaps, but certainly problematic, is the appointment of Supreme Court judges for life. Adding insult to injury, the United States Constitution is the most difficult to amend or update of any constitution currently existing in the world today. Democratic debate leaves few stones unturned, but we tend to take our basic constitutional structures for granted. Levinson boldly challenges the American people to undertake a long overdue public discussion on how they might best reform this most hallowed document and construct a constitution adequate to our democratic values. "Admirably gutsy and unfashionable." --Michael Kinsley, The New York Times "Bold, bracingly unromantic, and filled with illuminating insights. He accomplishes an unlikely feat, which is to make a really serious argument for a new constitutional convention, one that is founded squarely on democratic ideals." --Cass R. Sunstein, The New Republic "Everyone who cares about how our government works should read this thoughtful book." --Washington Lawyer

Sex and the Constitution: Sex, Religion, and Law from America's Origins to the Twenty-First Century

Sex and the Constitution: Sex, Religion, and Law from America's Origins to the Twenty-First Century

  • Author: Geoffrey R. Stone
  • Publisher: Liveright Publishing
  • ISBN: 1631493655
  • Category: Law
  • Page: 704
  • View: 6529
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There has never been a book like Sex and the Constitution, a one-volume history that chapter after chapter overturns popular shibboleths, while dramatically narrating the epic story of how sex came to be legislated in America. Beginning his volume in the ancient and medieval worlds, Geoffrey R. Stone demonstrates how the Founding Fathers, deeply influenced by their philosophical forebears, saw traditional Christianity as an impediment to the pursuit of happiness and to the quest for human progress. Acutely aware of the need to separate politics from the divisive forces of religion, the Founding Fathers crafted a constitution that expressed the fundamental values of the Enlightenment. Although the Second Great Awakening later came to define America through the lens of evangelical Christianity, nineteenth-century Americans continued to view sex as a matter of private concern, so much so that sexual expression and information about contraception circulated freely, abortions before “quickening” remained legal, and prosecutions for sodomy were almost nonexistent. The late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries reversed such tolerance, however, as charismatic spiritual leaders and barnstorming politicians rejected the values of our nation’s founders. Spurred on by Anthony Comstock, America’s most feared enforcer of morality, new laws were enacted banning pornography, contraception, and abortion, with Comstock proposing that the word “unclean” be branded on the foreheads of homosexuals. Women increasingly lost control of their bodies, and birth control advocates, like Margaret Sanger, were imprisoned for advocating their beliefs. In this new world, abortions were for the first time relegated to dank and dangerous back rooms. The twentieth century gradually saw the emergence of bitter divisions over issues of sexual “morality” and sexual freedom. Fiercely determined organizations and individuals on both the right and the left wrestled in the domains of politics, religion, public opinion, and the courts to win over the soul of the nation. With its stirring portrayals of Supreme Court justices, Sex and the Constitution reads like a dramatic gazette of the critical cases they decided, ranging from Griswold v. Connecticut (contraception), to Roe v. Wade (abortion), to Obergefell v. Hodges (gay marriage), with Stone providing vivid historical context to the decisions that have come to define who we are as a nation. Now, though, after the 2016 presidential election, we seem to have taken a huge step backward, with the progress of the last half century suddenly imperiled. No one can predict the extent to which constitutional decisions safeguarding our personal freedoms might soon be eroded, but Sex and the Constitution is more vital now than ever before.

The Naked Crowd

The Naked Crowd

Reclaiming Security and Freedom in an Anxious Age

  • Author: Jeffrey Rosen
  • Publisher: Random House Trade Paperbacks
  • ISBN: 0375759859
  • Category: Political Science
  • Page: 286
  • View: 1705
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Argues that in the effort to catch terrorists and prevent future terrorist attacks essential American rights to privacy and liberty are being violated and explains how legislation and technology can create an effective and reasonable balance between security and liberty.

The Second Amendment

The Second Amendment

A Biography

  • Author: Michael Waldman
  • Publisher: Simon and Schuster
  • ISBN: 1476747458
  • Category: History
  • Page: 272
  • View: 5163
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At a time of renewed debate over guns in America, what does the Second Amendment mean? This book looks at history to provide some surprising, illuminating answers. The Amendment was written to calm public fear that the new national government would crush the state militias made up of all (white) adult men -- who were required to own a gun to serve. Waldman recounts the raucous public debate that has surrounded the amendment from its inception to the present. As the country spread to the Western frontier, violence spread too. But through it all, gun control was abundant. In the 20th century, with Prohibition and gangsterism, the first federal control laws were passed. On all four occasions, the Supreme Court ruled against a constitutional right to own a gun. The present debate picked up in the 1970s -- part of a backlash to the liberal 1960s and a resurgence of libertarianism. A newly radicalized NRA entered the campaign to oppose gun control and elevate the status of an obscure constitutional provision. In 2008, in a case that reached the Court after a focused drive by conservative lawyers, the US Supreme Court ruled for the first time that the Constitution protects an individual right to gun ownership. Famous for his theory of "originalism," Justice Antonin Scalia twisted it in this instance to base his argument on contemporary conditions. Waldman shows that our view of the amendment is set, at each stage, not by a pristine constitutional text, but by the push and pull, the rough and tumble of political advocacy and public agitation.

The Constitution

The Constitution

An Introduction

  • Author: Michael Paulsen,Luke Paulsen
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • ISBN: 0465093299
  • Category: Law
  • Page: 384
  • View: 1020
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From war powers to health care, freedom of speech to gun ownership, religious liberty to abortion, practically every aspect of American life is shaped by the Constitution. This vital document, along with its history of political and judicial interpretation, governs our individual lives and the life of our nation. Yet most of us know surprisingly little about the Constitution itself, and are woefully unprepared to think for ourselves about recent developments in its long and storied history. The Constitution: An Introduction is the definitive modern primer on the US Constitution. Michael Stokes Paulsen, one of the nation’s most provocative and accomplished scholars of the Constitution, and his son Luke Paulsen, a gifted young writer and lay scholar, have combined to write a lively introduction to the supreme law of the United States, covering the Constitution’s history and meaning in clear, accessible terms. Beginning with the Constitution’s birth in 1787, Paulsen and Paulsen offer a grand tour of its provisions, principles, and interpretation, introducing readers to the characters and controversies that have shaped the Constitution in the 200-plus years since its creation. Along the way, the authors provide correctives to the shallow myths and partial truths that pervade so much popular treatment of the Constitution, from school textbooks to media accounts of today’s controversies, and offer powerful insights into the Constitution’s true meaning. A lucid and engaging guide, The Constitution: An Introduction provides readers with the tools to think critically and independently about constitutional issues—a skill that is ever more essential to the continued flourishing of American democracy.

The Law of the Land

The Law of the Land

A Grand Tour of Our Constitutional Republic

  • Author: Akhil Reed Amar,Akhil Amar
  • Publisher: Basic Books
  • ISBN: 0465065899
  • Category: Law
  • Page: 352
  • View: 665
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From Kennebunkport to Kauai, from the Rio Grande to the Northern Rockies, ours is a vast republic. While we may be united under one Constitution, separate and distinct states remain, each with its own constitution and culture. Geographic idiosyncrasies add more than just local character. Regional understandings of law and justice have shaped and reshaped our nation throughout history. America’s Constitution, our founding and unifying document, looks slightly different in California than it does in Kansas. In The Law of the Land, renowned legal scholar Akhil Reed Amar illustrates how geography, federalism, and regionalism have influenced some of the biggest questions in American constitutional law. Writing about Illinois, “the land of Lincoln,” Amar shows how our sixteenth president’s ideas about secession were influenced by his Midwestern upbringing and outlook. All of today’s Supreme Court justices, Amar notes, learned their law in the Northeast, and New Yorkers of various sorts dominate the judiciary as never before. The curious Bush v. Gore decision, Amar insists, must be assessed with careful attention to Florida law and the Florida Constitution. The second amendment appears in a particularly interesting light, he argues, when viewed from the perspective of Rocky Mountain cowboys and cowgirls. Propelled by Amar’s distinctively smart, lucid, and engaging prose, these essays allow general readers to see the historical roots of, and contemporary solutions to, many important constitutional questions. The Law of the Land illuminates our nation’s history and politics, and shows how America’s various local parts fit together to form a grand federal framework.

Explaining America

Explaining America

The Federalist

  • Author: Garry Wills
  • Publisher: Penguin Paperbacks
  • ISBN: 9780140298390
  • Category: History
  • Page: 286
  • View: 9214
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The Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Lincoln at Gettysburg focuses on the writing and impact of the Federalist papers, their arguments in favor of adoption of the Constitution, and their relation to Hamilton, Madison, and other Founding Fathers. Reprint.

The Bill of Rights

The Bill of Rights

The Fight to Secure America's Liberties

  • Author: Carol Berkin
  • Publisher: Simon and Schuster
  • ISBN: 1476743800
  • Category: History
  • Page: 272
  • View: 9312
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Describes how the Bill of Rights came into existence, detailing how the Founders argued over the contents of the document, reflecting an ideological divide between the power of the federal versus state governments that still exists to this day.

The Three Lives of James Madison

The Three Lives of James Madison

Genius, Partisan, President

  • Author: Noah Feldman
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN: 0679643842
  • Category: Biography & Autobiography
  • Page: 800
  • View: 4882
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A sweeping reexamination of the Founding Father who transformed the United States in each of his political “lives”—as a revolutionary thinker, as a partisan political strategist, and as a president Over the course of his life, James Madison changed the United States three times: First, he designed the Constitution, led the struggle for its adoption and ratification, then drafted the Bill of Rights. As an older, cannier politician he co-founded the original Republican party, setting the course of American political partisanship. Finally, having pioneered a foreign policy based on economic sanctions, he took the United States into a high-risk conflict, becoming the first wartime president and, despite the odds, winning. In The Three Lives of James Madison, Noah Feldman offers an intriguing portrait of this elusive genius and the constitutional republic he created—and how both evolved to meet unforeseen challenges. Madison hoped to eradicate partisanship yet found himself giving voice to, and institutionalizing, the political divide. Madison’s lifelong loyalty to Thomas Jefferson led to an irrevocable break with George Washington, hero of the American Revolution. Madison closely collaborated with Alexander Hamilton on the Federalist papers—yet their different visions for the United States left them enemies. Alliances defined Madison, too. The vivacious Dolley Madison used her social and political talents to win her husband new supporters in Washington—and define the diplomatic customs of the capital’s society. Madison’s relationship with James Monroe, a mixture of friendship and rivalry, shaped his presidency and the outcome of the War of 1812. We may be more familiar with other Founding Fathers, but the United States today is in many ways Madisonian in nature. Madison predicted that foreign threats would justify the curtailment of civil liberties. He feared economic inequality and the power of financial markets over politics, believing that government by the people demanded resistance to wealth. Madison was the first Founding Father to recognize the importance of public opinion, and the first to understand that the media could function as a safeguard to liberty. The Three Lives of James Madison is an illuminating biography of the man whose creativity and tenacity gave us America’s distinctive form of government. His collaborations, struggles, and contradictions define the United States to this day. Advance praise for The Three Lives of James Madison “Noah Feldman brings a scholarly rigor and a gift for narrative to this impressive account of the sprawling—and often perplexing—life of James Madison. Understanding America requires understanding this often-overlooked Founder and his long, eventful life in the arena. We are fortunate indeed that Feldman has given us such a thoughtful examination of Madison’s mind and its still-unfolding role in the story of the nation.”—Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Thomas Jefferson: The Art of Power “James Madison is famously known as the ‘Father’ of the American Constitution. With great insight, conveyed in elegant and commanding prose, Noah Feldman gives us a rich portrait of our fourth president in all his many aspects: constitution maker, politician, partisan, friend, slaveholder, husband, president, and elder statesmen. The result is a fresh, bold, and much-needed look at a pivotal figure in American and, therefore, world history.”—Annette Gordon-Reed, Pulitzer Prize–winning author of The Hemingses of Monticello: An American Family

An American Family

An American Family

A Memoir of Hope and Sacrifice

  • Author: Khizr Khan
  • Publisher: Random House
  • ISBN: 0399592504
  • Category: Biography & Autobiography
  • Page: 304
  • View: 4702
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This inspiring memoir by the Muslim American Gold Star father and captivating DNC speaker is the story of one family’s pursuit of the American dream. NAMED ONE OF THE FIVE BEST MEMOIRS OF THE YEAR BY THE WASHINGTON POST “Moving . . . a story about family and faith, told with a poet’s sensibility . . . Khizr Khan’s book can teach all of us what real American patriotism looks like.” —The New York Times Book Review In fewer than three hundred words, Khizr Khan electrified viewers around the world when he took the stage at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. And when he offered to lend Donald Trump his own much-read and dog-eared pocket Constitution, his gesture perfectly encapsulated the feelings of millions. But who was that man, standing beside his wife, extolling the promises and virtues of the U.S. Constitution? In this urgent and timeless immigrant story, we learn that Khizr Khan has been many things. He was the oldest of ten children born to farmers in Pakistan, and a curious and thoughtful boy who listened rapt as his grandfather recited Rumi beneath the moonlight. He was a university student who read the Declaration of Independence and was awestruck by what might be possible in life. He was a hopeful suitor, awkwardly but earnestly trying to win the heart of a woman far out of his league. He was a brilliant and diligent young family man who worked two jobs to save enough money to put himself through Harvard Law School. He was a loving father who, having instilled in his children the ideals that brought him and his wife to America—the sense of shared dignity and mutual responsibility—tragically lost his son, an Army captain killed while protecting his base camp in Iraq. He was and is a patriot, and a fierce advocate for the rights, dignities, and values enshrined in the American system. An American Family shows us who Khizr Khan and millions of other American immigrants are, and why—especially in these tumultuous times—we must not be afraid to step forward for what we believe in when it matters most. Praise for An American Family “An American Family is a small but lovely immigrant’s journey, full of carefully observed details from the order in which Ghazala served tea at a university event, to the schedule of the police patrols in the Boston Public Garden where Khan briefly slept while he was in between apartments, to the description of Humayun’s headstone as a ‘slab of white marble with soft streaks the color of wood smoke.’”—Alyssa Rosenberg, The Washington Post