I received this book via LibraryThing Early Reviewers in exchange for an honest review.
What would the Founding Fathers think about America today? Is the question that Juan Williams looks at in his new book, We the People. Yet in trying to find the answer, Williams realized that the Founding Fathers would not recognize the United States of 2016 given what has occurred over the past 240 years, so he shifted his focus to those individuals who have shaped the nation since World War II by how they interpreted the words of the Founding Fathers.
Through 18 chapters, Williams examined numerous individuals and how they affected issues and movements that affect the United States today. These new members of the Found Father “family” as Williams calls them range from the notable such as Kennedy brothers, Martin Luther King Jr., Ronald Reagan, and Earl Warren to the lesser known such as Harry Hay, Robert Ball, and Robert Morris. The issues these individuals range from immigration to gun rights to environmentalism to the debate between the living constitution and originalism.
In each chapter, Williams gives an unbiased history of the issue under discussion as well as a biography of the individual or individuals that contributed to how the issue became important for us today. Although this might sound like it could be a plodding read, Williams writes in a crisp and engaging manner that results in the nearly 400 pages of text to pass swiftly for the reader while so informing them of the issue and individuals that made them important for 21st century Americans.
If there is one thing I wish Williams had done was a concluding chapter that would have addressed how some of the issues he presented interacted with one another. This would have also afforded Williams the opportunity while showing the interaction between issues to parallel how the interaction of 21st century issues to show parallels about 21st century issues interacted with one another just as issues the 18th century during the Founding Father era interacted with one another. I personally believe this reinforcing of his argument as well as the synthesis of the previous chapters would have created a stronger conclusion to the text than just the normal chapter ending that the reader got.
We the People could be seen as one of those “popular history” genre books glosses over things, but Williams’ prose and material goes deeper to give the reader a better understanding as to how 21st century America came to be as it is. The nearly 400 page of text is very reasonable for the average reader and the information provided within them really packs a punch. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book for those interested in history and/or politics.