Plain, Honest Men by Richard Beeman
The Making of the American Constitution

97%

6 Critic Reviews

...but Beeman’s work is distinguished by a gently judicious tone that allows us to appreciate, and draw some lessons from, the delicate balances that emerged out of that passion-filled Philadelphia crucible.
-NY Times

Synopsis

In May 1787, in an atmosphere of crisis, delegates met in Philadelphia to design a radically new form of government. Distinguished historian Richard Beeman captures as never before the dynamic of the debate and the characters of the men who labored that historic summer. Virtually all of the issues in dispute—the extent of presidential power, the nature of federalism, and, most explosive of all, the role of slavery—have continued to provoke conflict throughout our nation's history. This unprecedented book takes readers behind the scenes to show how the world's most enduring constitution was forged through conflict, compromise, and fragile consensus. As Gouverneur Morris, delegate of Pennsylvania, noted: "While some have boasted it as a work from Heaven, others have given it a less righteous origin. I have many reasons to believe that it is the work of plain, honest men."
 

About Richard Beeman

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RICHARD BEEMAN is a professor of history at the University of Pennsylvania and serves as a trustee of the National Constitution Center. He is the author of seven previous books, among them The Penguin Guide to the United States Constitution, Plain, Honest Men: The Making of the American Constitution, and Patrick Henry, which was a finalist for the National Book Award. He lives in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.
 
Published March 14, 2009 by Random House. 544 pages
Genres: History, Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy, Professional & Technical, War. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Plain, Honest Men
All: 6 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 0

NY Times

Excellent
Reviewed by WALTER ISAACSON on Apr 10 2009

...but Beeman’s work is distinguished by a gently judicious tone that allows us to appreciate, and draw some lessons from, the delicate balances that emerged out of that passion-filled Philadelphia crucible.

Read Full Review of Plain, Honest Men: The Making... | See more reviews from NY Times

The Washington Post

Excellent
Reviewed by MARY BETH NORTON on Mar 22 2009

Although Beeman stresses the contingent nature and uncertain interpretation of the convention's decisions, what most strikes a contemporary reader is his description of endless bickering and tedious debates.

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Christian Science Monitor

Excellent
Reviewed by Randy Dotinga on Apr 09 2009

“Plain Honest Men” isn’t a page-turner. This is a story of committees and compromise, not stirring speeches and verbal duels. But Beeman...is a fine writer and has a firm grasp on the motives, machinations, and personalities of the 20 major players.

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Open Letters Monthly

Excellent
Reviewed by RICHARD BEEMAN

Eventually I came to also see that it was Beeman’s gift for subtlety, inquisitiveness, judicious judgments and dispassionate objectivity that makes his book to stand out.

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The Herald Dispatch

Excellent
Reviewed by The Herald-Dispatch on Nov 03 2011

...Iis a testament to what can be accomplished when a few good people, holding vastly different opinions, are willing to come together, work together and compromise together for the good of the Nation.

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Yahoo! Voices

Good
Reviewed by Mike Powers on Dec 01 2010

Plain, Honest Men is an altogether brilliant account of how 58 men met in Philadelphia in the spring and summer of 1787 for the express purpose of forming an effective system of government for the United States.

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