The Framers' Coup: The Making of the United States Constitution


Product Details

$26.99  $25.10
Oxford University Press, USA
Publish Date
5.8 X 9.0 X 1.9 inches | 2.51 pounds

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About the Author

Michael J. Klarman is Kirkland & Ellis Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and author of the Bancroft Prize-winning From Jim Crow to Civil Rights (OUP).


"Klarman...offers a pragmatic, even quotidian, explanation, taking the reader through the most minute historical detail and presenting quite literally everything anyone interested in the coming-to-be of the US Constitution would possibly want: theory, philosophy, history, theology, religion, politics, economics-and just plain random chance. And he weaves it all together with a master storyteller's ear for just the right phrase and just the right dramatic line. This reviewer is amazed by what the author has accomplished. This is not the first thing he's written, and yet it feels like something one would spend an entire academic career writing. The documentation is astonishing, and is alone worth the price of this (extremely large!) volume. This reviewer had a grand time reading this, and cannot wait to do it again. This is an amazing piece of work....Essential"--M. Berheide, CHOICE

"The central strength of this book is its deep familiarity with primary sources"--John R. Vile, The Register of the Kentucky Historical Society

"A magisterial history of the creation of the United States Constitution... In crisp, precise style, and without undue reverence for the framers or their handiwork, Klarman explores in great depth, with ample illustrative quotations, the varying proposals and the heated arguments for and against them... A monumental project carried off to a high degree of excellence... Constitutional scholars will find this thorough and authoritative work indispensable reading."--Kirkus, Starred Review

"Michael Klarman has written the best single-volume analysis of the flaws in the Articles of Confederation that led to the Constitutional Convention, the debate in that Convention, the ratification of the proposed Constitution, and the drafting and adoption of the Bill of Rights. With great insight, Klarman explains the complexities of America's postwar economic, political, and constitutional struggles, showing how a people who fought a long war for their rights could then approve a democracy-limiting Constitution that greatly restricted those rights. Klarman commands the documentary sources like no other historian. His page-turning narrative is equal to the epic story he unveils. Every serious scholar of the period must read this masterful work."--John Kaminski, Director, Center for the Study of the American Constitution, University of Wisconsin-Madison

"The Framers' Coup is the first comprehensive account of the entire struggle for the United States Constitution, from the inception of the amalgamating impulse in the early 1780s all the way through to the ratification of the Bill of Rights in 1791. A lot of us who write books about the Constitution are about to see our royalties trail off, because Michael Klarman, in a brisk narrative, deftly summarizes all the major interpretations in developing his own provocative and persuasive take. I for one will take my lumps, because this book is a beaut."--Woody Holton, Bancroft Prize winner and author of Unruly Americans and the Origins of the Constitution

"At last, we have a definitive account of the entire Framing period. Klarman has brought to the task the narrative skill and situation sense of a historian, the attention to detail and language of a lawyer, and the wisdom and insight of the great scholar that he is."--Louis Michael Seidman, Carmack Waterhouse Professor of Constitutional Law, Georgetown University Law Center

"The fullest explanation of the origins of the Constitution that we are ever likely to get in a single volume. Klarman ably shows how an interest-ridden Constitutional Convention that was fearful of democracy nevertheless created a document that transcended those interests and became the basis for a democracy that has survived for over two centuries."--Gordon S. Wood, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of The Radicalism of the American Revolution

"This remarkable book tells a gripping story of how the Constitution, often lauded as principled and visionary, was the work of intensely political individuals who were preoccupied with the issues of their day but were still able to accomplish something the nation needed. If you are interested in the Constitution and you do not read this book, you are making a big mistake."--David A. Strauss, Gerald Ratner Distinguished Service Professor of Law, University of Chicago Law School

"In this thoroughly researched volume, Michael Klarman gives us a book that has strangely gone unwritten: a comprehensive account of the adoption of the Constitution, from the reform initiatives of the 1780s through the ratification of the first amendments in 1791. Anyone who wants to understand the origins and character of the American constitutional project will need to wrestle with Klarman's incisive and balanced judgments."--Jack Rakove, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Original Meanings

"Impressive... [Michael Klarman] digs deeper into the primary sources than any of his predecessors.. no one has so carefully sifted the constitutional debates of the entire decade of the 1780's and brought them into a single cohesive interpretation focused on economics."--New Republic

"Magisterial... The Framers' Coup might well be the best book ever written on the founders and their handiwork. With impressive, even loving detail, and mostly emphasizing historical facts rather than his own opinions, Klarman conjures up the framers' whole world... riveting."--Cass Sunstein, The New Rambler

"This boldly themed and fast-paced book is both comprehensive and corrective."--The Harvard Law Bulletin

"The book has the authority and elegance of a reference work written for the ages... Rich with voices and insights... often revelatory."--Harvard Magazine