The Constitutional Origins of the American Revolution

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Date: May 2012
From: Journal of Southern History(Vol. 78, Issue 2)
Publisher: Southern Historical Association
Document Type: Book review
Length: 1,064 words
Lexile Measure: 1520L

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The Constitutional Origins of the American Revolution. By Jack P. Greene. New Histories of American Law. (New York and other cities: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Pp. xxiv, 198. Paper, $21.99, ISBN 978-0-521-13230-5; cloth, $80.00, ISBN 978-0-521-76093-5.)

Probably the single most important piece of information needed by a prospective reader or purchaser of Jack P. Greene's The Constitutional Origins of the American Revolution is that more than three-quarters of it is identical (or nearly so) with his earlier classic Peripheries and Center: Constitutional Development in the Extended Polities of the British Empire and the United States, 1607-1788 (Athens, Ga., 1986). Much of what is not identical is very condensed restatement of other parts of that earlier book. The wholly original parts of Constitutional Origins are a new preface (about fifteen pages long) and perhaps fifteen pages of new text interpolated among the parts from Peripheries and Center.

In light of that information, two questions immediately arise: Why has Greene republished so much of his still-in-print Peripheries and Center? And is it worth purchasing or rereading? Greene's new preface addresses the first question. He is completely candid in explaining that the present volume "republish[es] in extenso material from the earlier book" (p. xxiii). The initiative for the new book came not from Greene but from the editors of the Cambridge University Press New Histories of American Law series, who approached Greene with the idea of returning to the subject matter of Peripheries and Center. His response: "Knowing that I seldom change my mind about problems once I have dealt with them, I have always been reluctant to revisit...

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Gale Document Number: GALE|A288977968