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Sacred Texts ’98

As readers of this delightfully passionate work will infer, the U.S. Department of Education is unconstitutional.  Nevertheless, before it does the country a great service by abolishing itself, the department ought to issue a mandate requiring every secondary school in the nation to adopt the next edition of Reclaiming the American Revolution as required reading.  Such a directive would violate the principles of state autonomy that the book advocates, but you can’t make an omelet without cracking a few eggs.

Mr. Watkins’ slim volume (163 pages of text and about 70 pages of notes, appendices, and index), does a truly astonishing job of reviewing the highlights of American history in general and the battles over “federalism”—the proper allocation of responsibility and jurisdiction between the state and federal governments—in particular.  Our youth are increasingly ignorant of the basic facts of our country’s history, and even adults are generally clueless about the Framers’ intentions with regard to the meaning of our Constitution.  Watkins offers a remedy.  In a work of subtle erudition and yet simple language, he recaptures the sublime understanding of human nature and political science of such late-18th-century geniuses as Madison and Jefferson and makes a powerful case for their relevance to the present day.

The ostensible foci...

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