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ROOK REVIEWS371 is the quarantining of editorial observations in a thirty-page and syntactically gothic reader's guide at the front. The forty-title list of recommended readings (over half, by the by, are the editor's own articles), contains few of the well-known histories, biographies, and memoirs that might help "cast reflected light" on the framers' intentions. The two indices and the table of contents are of some use, but the reader will still have a time getting the hang of the page format; that once accomplished, his ocular stamina will be taxed mightily by the mini-type. The Commission clearly doubts the correctness of modern Supreme Court rulings on these amendments, and hopes the book will "enable interested persons to determine for themselves" whether the justices observed the framers' intent. The book succeeds and fails. Editorial scissors have clearly not played snip-and-slant with the debates. But in the reader's guide the guide's hand lies heavy on the reader's shoulder with hints like "hardly subject to misunderstanding," the "statute faithfully reflects the original intent ," and "It is quite clear that he [a framer] did not believe that Supreme Court decisions were the Taw of the land.' " There are factual errors, too. The 3/5 clause did not count a slave as 3/5 of a person, and the First Reconstruction Act did not prescribe "universal adult male suffrage." The weakest part of the book is the philosophy on which the Commission based its publication: the necessity of "interpreting every portion of the Constitution, including the amendments thereto, in accordance with the intent and understanding of the framers. . . ." 1787 shows, and this very book reaffirms, that some framer can be cited on any side of any construction dispute. And who are the framers, anyway? The drafting committee? The members who debated? The majority? Everyone in Congress? This book never tells. If the framer were a single law-giver, like Solon or Lycurgus, ascertaining intent might be easier. But if "the framers" of the reconstruction amendments are everyone in this book, any "reflected light" cast on their handiwork is certainly being cast through the clouds. Really, that's a good phrase, "cast reflected light"—but I wonder if the truth from which the light is supposed to be reflected is ascertainable. Or exists. James E. Sefton San Fernando Valley State College Americans in Africa, 1865-1900. By CIendenen, Clarence, Robert Collins and Peter Duignan. (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1966. Pp. 130. $3.00.) The purpose of this book is "to set down in broad strokes a general picture of United States activity in Africa" (p. 5). It should be stated at the outset that such a goal is commendable since a good study of American involvement in Africa, 1865-1900, is lacking. Unfortunately, the authors have not filled this need, though they do stimulate interest in the subject. The book 372CIVIL WAR HISTORY is useful in showing the breadth of American contact with Africa and in presenting a survey based on secondary sources. Some serious weaknesses flaw the book. One wonders why the authors chose to use only secondary sources, ignoring easily available primary materials . For example, after pointing out the importance of the American consuls in such places as Zanzibar, no direct reference is made to the correspondence (private or official) of these men even though such material is available on microfilm from the National Archives. An examination of this material would have enabled the authors to determine more closely the types of American vessels calling at African ports. Thus they would have included information , for instance, about the role of the American whalemen in Africa. This criticism points to the problems involved in basing a work on only secondary sources. Another criticism of this book is that on occasion it has more conclusions than it does facts on which to base them. Overemphasis of the importance of African-American contacts leads the authors to present unsupported conclusions of some magnitude. For example, one is startled to learn that New England capital created by the East African trade played a large part in financing railroad construction in the Western United States (p. 74). Undoubtedly...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1533-6271
Print ISSN
0009-8078
Pages
pp. 371-372
Launched on MUSE
2013-01-02
Open Access
No
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