57 Syracuse L. Rev. 311 (2006-2007)
Constitutional Bricolage: A Commentary on Akhil Reed Amar's America's Constitution: A Biography

handle is hein.journals/syrlr57 and id is 319 raw text is: CONSTITUTIONAL BRICOLAGE?: A COMMENTARY
ON AKHIL REED AMAR'S AMERICA'S
CONSTITUTION: A BIOGRAPHY
Donald S. Lutzt
The massive scholarly effort mobilized by the American Bicentennial
Celebration during the 1970s and 1980s generated at least forty important
book-length studies relevant to the founding of our nation. Books by
Gordon Wood, Jack Greene, Forrest McDonald, Lance Banning, Jack
Rakove, Pauline Maier, Michael Zuckert, Barry Shain, Michael Kammen,
George Carey, and Charles Hyneman, to name a few, joined somewhat
earlier contributions by George Dargo, Willmoore Kendall, Paul Konkin,
R.R. Palmer, Bernard Bailyn, Vincent Ostrom, Ron Peters, Marchette
Chute, Cecilia Kenyon, Willi Paul Adams, and Leonard Levy, among
others. Altogether, a list of the indispensable works relevant to the political
founding of the United States might include forty or forty-five titles. To
that list of indispensable reading we must now add Akhil Reed Amar's
America's Constitution: A Biography.' Nor is this a kind of afterthought.
Amar's book probably belongs among the top twenty to twenty-five on the
subject. Among its virtues, Amar's book takes into account the work of
these others without engaging them in just one more tedious intramural
debate. The result is a clean argument that generally stays on the
message, which makes for a generally readable text despite the rich array of
historical information brought to bear.
Amar's book is not merely a popularization by a scholar seeking an
overly broad readership. It is instead an interesting polemic with a number
of important lessons to impart. Foremost among these lessons is the view
that the United States, as a polity, has led two lives. The book could have
been titled You Only Live Twice. The first life began during the second half
t Donald S. Lutz was born in Detroit, Michigan. He graduated from Georgetown
University with a B.A. in Government and obtained his Ph.D. in Political Science from
Indiana University. He is a professor of political science at the University of Houston, where
he teaches political philosophy and specializes in American political theory. He has
published sixty-one articles and eleven books; most recently, DONALD S. LUTZ, PRINCIPLES
OF CONSTITUTIONAL DESIGN (2006).
1. AKHIL REED AMAR, AMERICA'S CONSTITUTION: A BIOGRAPHY (2005) [hereinafter
AMAR].

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