Holiday gifts for the constitutional bookworm in your family


Author: Timothy Sandefur

If you’re looking for a little something for that friend or family member who’s interested in the Constitution and its relevance today, you might consider picking up one of these excellent recent books.

1) James Madison by Richard Brookhiser

This brief, elegantly written book is a great introduction to the life and work of the Father of the Constitution. Brookhiser covers all the highlights of Madison’s long and enormously productive life in a book that’s a lot more manageable than Ralph Ketcham’s more scholarly shelf-cracker. Brookhiser emphasizes Madison’s importance as the father, not only of the Constitution, but of American politics in general. The Virginian wasn’t just America’s greatest political thinker, he was a practical politician, and an extremely successful one at that. Those looking for a more in-depth study of Madison would be better served either with Ketcham’s book or with the outstanding studies by Gary Rosen or Lance Banning, but this new book is a refreshing contribution and would make a great gift.

2) The Rights of The People by David Shipler

This book is depressing, but powerful and extremely illuminating. Shipler talks about the erosion of our constitutional freedoms—and particularly our rights against searches and seizures—due to the Wars on Drugs and Terrorism. As Shipler explains, it doesn’t matter what one’s views of those wars are—they’re being prosecuted in ways that should trouble any admirer of our Constitution. Shipler, who served in the ‘70s as the New York Times’ Moscow reporter, has disturbingly appropriate credentials to chronicle the erosion of our safeguards against intrusive government.

3) The Science of Liberty by Timothy Ferris

Ferris, best known for his work as an expositor of science, has put together an excellent book on the relationship between the scientific worldview—and particularly the legacy of the Enlightenment-era scientific and technological revolutions—and the principles of political liberty and individual rights. Mixed with fun biographical details, Ferris’s book is a very powerful defense of the connection between a politics of freedom and an epistemology of reason—and a much-needed response to those who claim that only scientifically illiterate fools can believe in limited government.

And, of course, don’t forget that you can also help us to keep up the fight for freedom in the courts by buying something from our on-line gift shop!