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Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Graphic Novel: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws That Affect Us Today

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The latest volume in our World Citizen Comics graphic novel series, Fault Lines in the Constitution teaches readers how this founding document continues to shape modern American society. In 1787, after 116 days of heated debates and bitter arguments, the United States Constitution was created. This imperfect document set forth America’s guiding principles, but it would also The latest volume in our World Citizen Comics graphic novel series, Fault Lines in the Constitution teaches readers how this founding document continues to shape modern American society. In 1787, after 116 days of heated debates and bitter arguments, the United States Constitution was created. This imperfect document set forth America’s guiding principles, but it would also introduce some of today's most contentious political issues—from gerrymandering, to the Electoral College, to presidential impeachment. With colorful art, compelling discourse, and true stories from America's past and present, Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Graphic Novel sheds light on how today's political struggles have their origins in the decisions of our Founding Fathers. Children’s book author Cynthia Levinson, constitutional law scholar Sanford Levinson, and artist Ally Shwed deftly illustrate how contemporary problems arose from this founding document—and then they offer possible solutions.


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The latest volume in our World Citizen Comics graphic novel series, Fault Lines in the Constitution teaches readers how this founding document continues to shape modern American society. In 1787, after 116 days of heated debates and bitter arguments, the United States Constitution was created. This imperfect document set forth America’s guiding principles, but it would also The latest volume in our World Citizen Comics graphic novel series, Fault Lines in the Constitution teaches readers how this founding document continues to shape modern American society. In 1787, after 116 days of heated debates and bitter arguments, the United States Constitution was created. This imperfect document set forth America’s guiding principles, but it would also introduce some of today's most contentious political issues—from gerrymandering, to the Electoral College, to presidential impeachment. With colorful art, compelling discourse, and true stories from America's past and present, Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Graphic Novel sheds light on how today's political struggles have their origins in the decisions of our Founding Fathers. Children’s book author Cynthia Levinson, constitutional law scholar Sanford Levinson, and artist Ally Shwed deftly illustrate how contemporary problems arose from this founding document—and then they offer possible solutions.

30 review for Fault Lines in the Constitution: The Graphic Novel: The Framers, Their Fights, and the Flaws That Affect Us Today

  1. 4 out of 5

    Rod Brown

    Even in graphic novel form, it took me a few days to get through this long and packed history and analysis of the U.S. Constitution. The format kept it from bogging down by taking a look at a modern day problem and following that with a flashback to the debates around the originating issue the Founding Fathers had during the Constitutional Convention in the 1780s. It's full of interesting historical tidbits and offers a decent overview. Drawbacks: * It's pretty light on diversity, making only pa Even in graphic novel form, it took me a few days to get through this long and packed history and analysis of the U.S. Constitution. The format kept it from bogging down by taking a look at a modern day problem and following that with a flashback to the debates around the originating issue the Founding Fathers had during the Constitutional Convention in the 1780s. It's full of interesting historical tidbits and offers a decent overview. Drawbacks: * It's pretty light on diversity, making only passing mention of the issues of Black, Native, and LGBTQ+ Americans. * It focuses heavily on the Executive Branch, becoming another of those books that is mostly about what the U.S. President is up to in any given decade. The authors do court controversy in the final chapter by actually assigning letter grades to how successful the U.S. has been in following through on the promises laid out in the Preamble to the Constitution. I'm sure it's going to earn them quite a lot of hate mail.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Geoff

    A very timely book. It's not exactly a graphic novel; much more of a text heavily illustrated and at times the simple cartoonishness of the art detracts from the ideas. At times it drags, but I really liked the way the authors discussed the historical context of the framers, the modern consequences of their decisions, and ways in which states and other countries have addressed those issues. The discussion of population representation inequalities and gerrymandering is especially good. **Thanks to A very timely book. It's not exactly a graphic novel; much more of a text heavily illustrated and at times the simple cartoonishness of the art detracts from the ideas. At times it drags, but I really liked the way the authors discussed the historical context of the framers, the modern consequences of their decisions, and ways in which states and other countries have addressed those issues. The discussion of population representation inequalities and gerrymandering is especially good. **Thanks to the authors, publisher, and NetGalley for a free copy in exchange for an honest review.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Kellyanne

    This originally was published in 2017, updated in 2019, and made into a graphic novel in 2020. I’ll just leave this very relevant section from Chapter 19, written before the COVID-19 pandemic: “In 2017, the CDC adopted rules that followed the federal government to impose national quarantines and prohibit travel from one state to another. In 2018, the Trump administration disbanded the Global Health Security Team, which was in charge of our country’s response in case of a pandemic. Authorities are This originally was published in 2017, updated in 2019, and made into a graphic novel in 2020. I’ll just leave this very relevant section from Chapter 19, written before the COVID-19 pandemic: “In 2017, the CDC adopted rules that followed the federal government to impose national quarantines and prohibit travel from one state to another. In 2018, the Trump administration disbanded the Global Health Security Team, which was in charge of our country’s response in case of a pandemic. Authorities are likely to get into a free-for-all at the first uncertain sign of an epidemic.” Everyone needs to read this book. ETA: My one quibble (Goodreads, you really need half stars) is that New Jersey is constantly referred to as a "small" state. Yes, it is the 47th smallest state...in physical size. It's the 11th most populous state in the country (also number ONE in population density). Population-wise, we're not small, by any means. It's no California, but then NJ is TWENTY-ONE times physically smaller than it. There are only so many people we can fit here while also producing a fair percentage of the US's fruits & vegetables, chemical manufacturing, industrial manufacturing, and more. Included in the NY metropolitan area, we produce 10% of the country's GDP. Just saying. Mad props for Ally Shwed, who's from Linden, NEW JERSEY! Her illustrations were hilarious and well thought out. Her visuals make you pay attention to what the authors are saying

  4. 4 out of 5

    Mary Sanchez

    A very timely book which I read during the 2020 election. The illustrations held my interest and helped me understand what the historical framers dealt with as they wrote and applied the Constitution to their times. The book also shows modern day applications in the U.S. today and even how our constitution differs from others in the world. This is a book that could open discussions about the Constitution in the classroom and make it more clear because of the illustrations. I would have liked a b A very timely book which I read during the 2020 election. The illustrations held my interest and helped me understand what the historical framers dealt with as they wrote and applied the Constitution to their times. The book also shows modern day applications in the U.S. today and even how our constitution differs from others in the world. This is a book that could open discussions about the Constitution in the classroom and make it more clear because of the illustrations. I would have liked a book like this when I was in school because it shows the big picture about the Constitution. This book is a good reference for families and schools. Teachers could present various chapters from this book on a document camera to help explain the Constitution to students, especially to those who are visual learners.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Tabrizia

    Thank you NetGalley and First Second for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review. Very informative and educational, just like the original nonfiction book, but this time being told in graphic novel format! Because of this, I feel younger readers, children and teens, will be more engaged with the information and the story that is being told.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Ms. Yingling

    E ARC provided by Netgalley More accessible than the straight nonfiction book because of the pictures, but still lots of good information.

  7. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Brehl

    This is long note, but I hope you will read it. I often recommend books here, most intended for kids. I often point out those that are important reads for adults, too. I strongly recommend a book for any and every age: Fault Lines in the Constiutution: The graphic book format- Regardless of your political positions, or insistence that you are NOT political, I urge you to read this. I read the original (by the same author/scholars) and was impressed, informed, but exhausted. This graphic version co This is long note, but I hope you will read it. I often recommend books here, most intended for kids. I often point out those that are important reads for adults, too. I strongly recommend a book for any and every age: Fault Lines in the Constiutution: The graphic book format- Regardless of your political positions, or insistence that you are NOT political, I urge you to read this. I read the original (by the same author/scholars) and was impressed, informed, but exhausted. This graphic version contains the essentials and examples, but in a much more digestible format. The authors interweave the original processes and intents of the "framers" with various historic events that illustrate the fact that the constitution itself is a framework, not a document set in concrete. 230 years have passed and the stresses of a nation they never could have imagined are important to understand. We are all living through decisions regarding SUREME COURT choices and decisions, challenges to the VOTE COUNT ANAD PROCESSES, the ELECTORAL COLLEGE process, a PEACEFUL TRANSITION OF POWER, LAME DUCK powers and consequences, and so much more.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Pat Carson

    Nice presentation. Will grab a person who hates lots of text but wants to learn about an important topic.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Kennedy

    This was interesting, but somewhat depressing. I feel so discouraged with our country and this highlighted a lot of the problems we face.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Drake

    I think this book will serve its intended audience well. Middle school students just learning about the United States government will get a fun introduction. Anyone else can use it for a quick refresher. The graphic novel format makes it more digestible for a wider audience than its original prose edition.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Lysette H

    "The latest volume in our World Citizen Comics graphic novel series, Fault Lines in the Constitution teaches readers how this founding document continues to shape modern American society." In a time when politicians, citizens, and other partisans have tried to convince the world of the simplicity and beauty of the creation of the constitution and birth of the United States, this book presents in an easy to understand format the true nature of the democracy in the US. While I would not really clas "The latest volume in our World Citizen Comics graphic novel series, Fault Lines in the Constitution teaches readers how this founding document continues to shape modern American society." In a time when politicians, citizens, and other partisans have tried to convince the world of the simplicity and beauty of the creation of the constitution and birth of the United States, this book presents in an easy to understand format the true nature of the democracy in the US. While I would not really classify this book as a "comic" the use of images is useful to explain the concepts and move the reader forward. Because some of these concepts are quite complicated, I'm not sure this is truly appropriate for young readers alone, but it can create a useful guide for starting conversations.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Kari

    I really enjoyed this ! It is based on the book by the same name but it highlights issues from the present and what the Founders were thinking when they wrote the constitution. It covers things like gerrymandering, the electoral college, and even pandemics! It was written before this pandemic but it has some very pertinent passages. I think it falls a bit short in dealing with our current president. The humorous tone of the book makes more sense when you understand the history. In 15 years when I really enjoyed this ! It is based on the book by the same name but it highlights issues from the present and what the Founders were thinking when they wrote the constitution. It covers things like gerrymandering, the electoral college, and even pandemics! It was written before this pandemic but it has some very pertinent passages. I think it falls a bit short in dealing with our current president. The humorous tone of the book makes more sense when you understand the history. In 15 years when kids read this book will they understand that Donald Trump was seriously claiming that he’d done nothing wrong? Overall I think the book works very well! Give it to kids who got into American History after Hamilton. I always cite the 9/11 report in graphic novel form as an excellent way to explain history and I think this is another great example.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Dylan Miller

    An excellent introduction to the realities of how the US government came to be. Instead of listing bland facts while omitting truths as most history books do, Fault Lines instead provides information in an easily digestible manner, and appropriate for a wide range of ages. I'd definitely recommend this to be read in classrooms as it is infinitely more engaging than a textbook.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Travis

    Fault Lines in the Constitution offers a good overview of the main points in the United States Constitution. Most of this should be familiar to anyone with even a passing knowledge of the government but it's good as a refresher. And it's more valuable for pointing out some of the details the framers left out of the document that defines our country. Some of the details are purely factual. The lack of a true line of succession is an issue that potentially leads to a lack of continuity in governmen Fault Lines in the Constitution offers a good overview of the main points in the United States Constitution. Most of this should be familiar to anyone with even a passing knowledge of the government but it's good as a refresher. And it's more valuable for pointing out some of the details the framers left out of the document that defines our country. Some of the details are purely factual. The lack of a true line of succession is an issue that potentially leads to a lack of continuity in government. The lack of a true definition of many terms leaves it up to constant interpretation on such things as when a president is unable to serve or what constitutes an emergency to activate unspecified emergency powers. Other details can be seen as somewhat partisan. For example, the book says each state having two Senators is flat out unfair. That's based on the fact that less than 50% of the population is represented by 82 Senators, while more than 50% is represented by only 18 Senators. Saying it's a problem that California has only two Senators while a bunch of other states put together have more Senators despite not having the combined population as California can come off leaning toward California. Pointing out how midwest states have a higher representation and thus get favorable treatment doesn't ingratiate you with those states. The book doesn't really delve as much into the framers as I hoped or expected. There's some flashbacks to the First Constitutional Convention but it's mostly just arguing heads. The author doesn't ponder why some oversights were made, such as the thought that Senators were distributed like they are without the knowledge that a small number of states would eventually hold the majority of the population. I did like how each chapter was broken down into a synopsis of a key point, a little history, and then an overview of how similar issues are handled in other countries. That said, I didn't always find each section or chapter very substantive. A couple chapters barely have any content at all. I felt like I was learning a lot in the moment, but when I went back to take notes I found surprisingly little to write down. Ulimately, this wasn't as good as the first World Citizens Comic graphic novel, Unrig: How to Fix Our Broken Democracy. That book went way more in depth on its specific voting rights issues, some of which are cursorily covered in this book. I generated way more discussions from Unrig than Fault Lines. I guess I wanted either a call to action like Unrig or more history. Still, I think this book will serve its intended audience well. Middle school students just learning about the United States government will get a fun introduction. Anyone else can use it for a quick refresher. The graphic novel format makes it more digestible for a wider audience than its original prose edition.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Jamie Jack

    Not Always Graphic Novel Style; Lacks Objectivity As an American who has a deep love for our foundational document of law, this graphic novel intrigued me when I saw it at one of my favorite book review sites. By the way, not all of it reads like a traditional graphic novel with panels and dialogue balloons; parts of it are more just an illustrated book. What I was hoping I would get was an objective view of both the history of the Constitution and how it has been used and abused. Unfortunately, Not Always Graphic Novel Style; Lacks Objectivity As an American who has a deep love for our foundational document of law, this graphic novel intrigued me when I saw it at one of my favorite book review sites. By the way, not all of it reads like a traditional graphic novel with panels and dialogue balloons; parts of it are more just an illustrated book. What I was hoping I would get was an objective view of both the history of the Constitution and how it has been used and abused. Unfortunately, this book didn't feel objective at all. Parts certainly strive too hard to be politically correct, and at times show historical figures having modern sensibilities they would not have had, and in other places, the authors definitely weighed in with opinions that could be considered partisan. While I might agree with them, as they appear to be on my side of the aisle, I don't find that appropriate in the book like this. When the book was more objective, I liked how it broke down both how the framers worked through issues that then became law (like bicameralism or the Electoral College) and how the Constitution is a living, breathing document that impacts people's lives through our history and today, even if we don't think of it as directly doing so. I have recently reviewed another book on the Constitution that takes a more objective, balanced approach, and I appreciated that a lot more. Because of the lack of objectivity, I do not feel like I can recommend this book. I received a free copy of this book, but that did not affect my review.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Emmeline Drake

    The Fault Lines in the Constitution is a good introduction to American politics and its imperfections. Overall the graphic novel did a good job at presenting these topics in a way that is accessible to young teenagers and encourages them to be politically active. There are some topics that felt very surface level, especially filibusters, direct democracy, the example of Senator Hiram Revels, and the role of the Supreme Court didn't seem fully developed.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jay

    This book, despite being written as cartoon drawings, does an excellent job of explaining where our constitution has issues and what other options are used in state and foreign country constitutions. I like that it describes the good and bad both, not being overly critical or overly rhapsodizing about what we have.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Michelle

    This is pretty good. I like how the illustrations helped present the ideas, and I especially liked the modern-day stories of people and how the problems in their lives connect to the things the founders argued over when writing the Constitution. Good job.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Dr. Pepper Ex-Fan

    There's a lot of information here, but also (1) there's a chapter on affirmative action that implies the authors agree that with this white woman who thought her application was rejected because she was white, and (2) the authors use the word "anarchy" to mean chaos, as if the current occupant of the White House hasn't already interfered with people's understanding of what anarchists really are. Two stars, because who knows what else they get wrong but that I now have been misinformed with.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Andréa

    Note: I received a digital review copy of this book from the publisher through NetGalley.

  21. 4 out of 5

    TJ

    Good way to explain history and issues with the constitution.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Jonathan H.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Mompop

  24. 5 out of 5

    John

  25. 4 out of 5

    Lora Goldenberg

  26. 4 out of 5

    Rosemary

  27. 4 out of 5

    Kurt

  28. 5 out of 5

    Jon Hewelt

  29. 4 out of 5

    Danie Christensen

  30. 4 out of 5

    Sinistmer

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