Monday, May 07, 2007

Book Review: "The Summer of 1787"

The Summer of 1787: The Men Who Invented the Constitution (2007, Simon & Schuster) is an updated narrative account of the Constitutional Convention and its participants. Like Catherine Drinker Bowen's classic Miracle at Philadelphia and Clinton Rossiter's The Grand Convention (both 1966 originally), David Stewart's book breaks little new ground, but is a useful introduction to the Convention for the general reader.

I didn't find myself in agreement with every characterization Stewart makes: I don't believe that Hamilton's famed "monarchy speech" was much more than a foil to make the Virginia plan more palatable, and I think his treatment of the Convention's construction of the executive branch is far too conclusion-driven (he doesn't like the electoral college). Nonetheless, I think on the whole Stewart's captured the people, mood and importance of that summer quite well.

Recommended as an adequate starting point. As usual with Simon & Schuster I must comment on the non-optimal citation style (though the notes are fairly good) and the unfortunate lack of a bibliography.