The (untold) Untold History of the United States
Oliver Stone has a new book out, co-authored with Peter Kuznick. There's a television series that accompanies the book, or perhaps it's the other way around. The book has cover blurbs from Mikhail Gorbachev, Douglas Brinkley, Daniel Ellsberg, and Bill Maher. Also Martin Sherwin, a Pulitzer Prize-winning author I've never heard of, who writes, "Kuznick and Stone's Untold History is the most important historical narrative of this century." Wow! And it's a big book, clocking in at 615 pages of text, with an additional 135 pages of end material. Even so, Chapter 1 starts with World War I, thus leaving out quite a long stretch of events. A prequel may be called for.
After physically weighing the book and flipping through a few pages the first thing I did was to check the index for the word "constitution." It shows up as "Constitution, U.S." with 8 page references. I checked them all but they're rather anodyne or pedestrian or unexceptional; the word "constitution," statistically, had to show up somewhere in such a long book about U.S. history; most likely a computer algorithm flagged the word as index worthy. To Stone and Kuznick the possibility seems to be completely unknown that the U.S. Constitution might contain within it, like the Rosetta Stone, a fundamental explanation for America's war-making tendencies.
The U.S. Constitution, of course, contains within its dynamic structure fundamental explanations for almost all of America's problems but those explanations, as in the Stone and Kuznick example, go unnoticed by 99.99% of people who try to write about American history and politics. Moreover, among the few who do notice, the number are vanishingly small who think that to correct our problems the constitution might be changed.
To my surprise this is mostly true even in the somewhat specialized legal field of comparative constitutional law. After a reasonably thorough web search I think it is fair to suppose that no book, book chapter, or law review article exists that defines categories of constitutional procedures and then compares, contrasts and assesses overall U.S. constitutional performance with that of another country or countries. Or, if any such work does exist, it is so obscure that nobody cites it. Yes, you can find articles comparing the U.S. Electoral College with presidential selection mechanisms in Lebanon, or Germany, or discussions of the origins of the idea of separation of powers, etc., etc., but virtually nothing original of importance deals with the big picture. That, in turn, makes it very difficult for anyone who writes, as it were, in the secondary market, to develop insights regarding our fundamental constitutional flaws.
Difficult, but not impossible, since a political understanding of the law is not by nature or Act of God restricted to law schools, diverse hoity-toity academic departments or other establishmentarian gate keepers.