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Students Guide To American Political Thought [Paperback]

By George W. Carey (Author)
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Item description for Students Guide To American Political Thought by George W. Carey...

Who are the most influential thinkers, and which are the most important concepts, events, and documents in the study of the American political tradition? How ought we regard the beliefs and motivations of the founders, the debate over the ratification of the Constitution, the historical circumstances of the Declaration of Independence, the rise of the modern presidency, and the advent of judicial supremacy? These are a few of the fascinating questions canvassed by George W. Carey in "A Student's Guide to American Political Thought." Carey's primer instructs students on the fundamental matters of American political theory while telling them where to turn to obtain a better grasp on the ideas that have shaped the American political heritage.

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Item Specifications...

Pages   114
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 0.4" Width: 5.1" Height: 8"
Weight:   0.35 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Mar 30, 2005
Publisher   Intercollegiate Studies Institute
Age  17
ISBN  1932236422  
ISBN13  9781932236422  

Availability  0 units.

More About George W. Carey

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! Dr. Carey is Professor of Government at Georgetown University. He is the author and editor of several works including In Defense of the Constitution, Freedom and Virtue, and A Student's Guide to American Political Thought. Dr. Carey is also editor of The Political Science Reviewer, an annual review of leading works in political science and related disciplines. In 2003, he was awarded the ISI Regnery Award for Distinguished Institutional Service.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Education > General
2Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Philosophy > Political
3Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > General
4Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > History & Theory
5Books > Subjects > Nonfiction > Politics > U.S.
6Books > Subjects > Professional & Technical > Education > General

Reviews - What do customers think about Students Guide To American Political Thought?

Great little read for college students  Jun 26, 2007
This book explores the thoughts of the Founding Fathers as they worked to establish our political system. One of the unique facets of the founding of this nation is the rich historical perspective of those who examined human and cultural history and then made various determinations and choices in the founding of this civilization - why were certain forms of government included and others excluded, what was the intent and understanding of law, government and the nature of man in making these determinations? Carey, a government professor at Georgetown, examines the writings of the founders and explores their thoughts, motives and desires.

Carey concludes several very fascinating things about our founders and their desired intent for this nation. First, many of the founders had a great distain for the concentration of power, considering the concentration itself to be tyranny, not waiting to see if the power were abused or not. Second, there is overwhelming evidence to support the concept that many of the founders believed that religion and virtue were absolute essentials in the fabric of this new society - to preserve and protect good government and to promote an orderly and decent society. Carey examines the influence of the Christian church on the foundation of this nation.

In examining the writings of the founders, Carey determines that James Madison's Federalist #10 lays out the fundamental argument for a constitutional government and is essential for any student of American political thought to read and understand. The battle over states rights versus a centralized national government as well as the protection of minority rights from the majority are put forth in Federalist #10. From that foundation, further discussions of the founders addressed their thoughts about the separation of powers and the role of each branch - one interesting note was their concept and distain for judicial activism, a problem we are obviously facing in today's culture!
the author's bias is evident throughout this work  Jul 23, 2006
I found that the author used many pejorative terms whenever he referenced liberal or progressive interpretations of the Constitution. He spent a good deal of his book trying to debunk the work of most constitutional scholars of the 20th century, instead relying on 19th century sources. In particular, he argues for a very narrow interpretation of the first amendment and ascribes religious motives to many of the founders which I think most historians would find unsubstantiated. It is particularly galling that the group which funded the work and has been most responsible for disseminating it is not clearly identified in either a forward or postscript, since such attribution would alert most readers to the fact that the book is geared to support a particular point of view, instead of being an objective survey of American political thought.
On the positive side, the author writes well, and his exposition of his own belief about the Constitution is clear.
Outstanding  Jun 18, 2005
Carey may be peerless in the ample insight he supplies concerning our Founder's intent. This short historical survey of American political thought processes and their conclusions provides a first-rate foundation for the neophyte, or the advanced pigeonholed in some specific corner of law or politics - quite suitable for the harried American. Though Carey holds a position (and after all what is education if not a search for the right answers?) he is remarkably adept at presenting other sides without torpedoing their thesis. But he doesn't need to, as that is done by carefully reading The Federalist. However, were it not for books like this, revision - conservative or liberal - would have a free hand, putting words in the Founder's mouth or obfuscating what can be complex Founding issues, not so much through the inertia of these concepts but by their subtleties. Unlike science where erroneous understandings are usually emphatically rejected by nature or refined analysis, this is what makes the Founding intent a minefield, more open to alteration. Unfortunately, English has not the precision of mathematics, but Carey points us to clarification from the Founders and they're reasonably clear, most often crystal.

Right from the beginning Carey sets the table: "On what principles is the government based? How is authority allocated within it? What is its primary purpose? Are there limitations to its powers? How can it be altered? On what assumptions about human nature is it based?" Past civilizations were "ordained by the gods" or "given by a mythical lawgiver", but America's Founding was a reasoned struggle, not only at the Convention but over decades of debate and State testing, resulting in the "will of the people", not a god. The Federalist as defense of the proposed Constitution addressed these matters. It is, though, a "nuts and bolts" approach, writes Carey, not an extensive theoretical or philosophical treatise - practical vs. idealistic. And this is where much political thought separates from The Federalist, attempting to redraft its meaning to satisfy "the way things ought to be" regardless of what works, Right or Left - though both miss the truth according to Carey through their selective spin, serving agendas. An example follows fifty years after our most lethal war with resulting elevation of that Lincoln era, retroactively recasting the Constitution in light of our Declaration through Lincoln's moving speeches ("...a new nation conceived in liberty and dedicated to the proposition that all men are created equal"). Jefferson did say there that we "hold these truths to be self evident", that all "are created equal" with "certain unalienable Rights". So, rights and equality became paramount. For such interpretations, writes Carey "...democracy is primarily government 'for the people' not necessarily 'by the people'", bearing "a close relationship to those [ideals] that inspired the French Revolution". The Constitution is then judged by how well it lives up to that Declaration. But Carey argues it does live up to central themes expressed there and is a continuation of the same political thought - once again by reference to The Federalist - just not the way revisionists want it to be.

Reading the Constitution cold is likely to leave one under-whelmed, but Carey transforms it. Like lifeless equations as abstract markings on paper, grasping their meaning and implications converts them to revelation, lifting them from the page to fly. Carey does this for the Founding, through him our Founders nearly live again. But based on our mutilation of their intent they'd probably rather be dead.

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