Designing a Polity

America's Constitution in Theory and Practice

By (author) James W. Ceaser

Hardback - £45.00

Publication date:

16 December 2010

Length of book:

232 pages


Rowman & Littlefield Publishers

ISBN-13: 9781442207905

In Designing a Polity, James W. Ceaser, one of our leading scholars of American political development, argues for the continuing central role of the Founding within the study of American government. Drawing on essays published over the past 10 years, extensively updated and revised to reflect current politics, Ceaser engages the Founding Fathers, particularly James Madison, emphasizes Alexis de Tocqueville as a model of political inquiry, critiques current and recent theorists such as Richard Rorty and Jacques Derrida, and explores the varieties of contemporary conservative thought. Designing a Polity offers a rich exploration of the core values of political sciences that will be of special interest to scholars and students of American political development, Constitutional thought, and contemporary political thought.
A Choice Outstanding Academic Title for 2011!
This book was a pleasure to read. The title implies a treatise on constitutional design; the work really comprises nine well-crafted essays by one of the premier scholars of American political thought. Each essay is a stand-alone gem--Ceaser is well-known for his elegant, dignified style and gentle humor--but they also constitute a compelling story, and are nicely grouped into different sections. The first section contemplates political foundations, and includes an excellent general theoretical treatment of foundationalism and nonfoundationalism, followed by a beautiful and original analysis of Tocqueville, and a piece on Leo Strauss that is worth the entire book price. Ceaser (Univ. of Virginia) then presents three tight essays on applying a science of politics to the questions of fame, statesmanship, and presidential-congressional relations. The third section includes three essays on modern conservatives and the construction of the Reagan legacy. The book concludes with "The Theoretical Origins of Anti-Americanism," which Ceaser writes "is arguably the only ideology of our day that has a worldwide reach." Every serious student of contemporary and historical American politics, or of American political thought, should keep this book handy. Essential. All readership levels.