A Pocket Guide to the US Constitution

What Every American Needs to Know

Andrew B. Arnold

"This clear, concise, witty, and sophisticated guide to the nation's most important founding document should be in every American's pocket."
+ Add to Cart Preorder


Request Print Exam Copy

Request Digital Exam Copy

The Constitution is not so simple that it explains itself—nor so complex that only experts can understand it.

In this accessible, nonpartisan quick reference, historian Andrew Arnold provides
concise explanations of the Constitution's meaning and history, offering little-known facts and anecdotes about every article and all twenty-seven amendments. This handy guide won’t tell you what the Constitution ought to say, nor what it ought to mean. It will tell you what the Constitution says and what it has meant.

A Pocket Guide to the US Constitution presents a straightforward way to understand the American Constitutional system. Without wading through lengthy legal prose, heavy historical analysis, or polemical diatribes, you can easily find out what the emoluments clause means, learn about gerrymandering and separation of powers, or read a brief background on why slaves in colonial America were considered 3/5 of a person.

Small enough to put in your pocket, backpack, or briefcase, A Pocket Guide to the US Constitution can be used to comprehend current events, dig deeper into court cases, or sort out your own opinions on constitutional issues.

Table of Contents

Preface to the Second Edition
Note to the Reader

Constitution and Amendments

I. Structure and Preamble “We the people. . .”

II. Three Branches of Government
Article 1. Legislative
Article 2. Executive
Article 3. Judiciary

III. Limitations on State Sovereignty
Article 4. States

IV. Ratification, Amending, and National Supremacy
Article 5. Amending the Constitution
Article 6. National Supremacy
Article 7. Ratification Process

V. Amendments
1-10. Bill of Rights
11-12. Early Refinements
13-15. Civil War Amendments
16-19. Progressive Era
20-22. New Deal and Post-World War II
23-27. Most Recent



"A great choice to introduce students to the complexity of our Constitution, without scaring them off."—Paul Finkelman , holds the Fulbright Canada Research Chair in Human Rights and Social Justice, University of Ottawa, author of Supreme Injustice: Slavery in the Nation's Court and co-author of A March of Liberty: A Constitutional History of the United States

""This clear, concise, witty, and sophisticated guide to the nation's most important founding document should be in every American's pocket.""—Michael A. Ross, University of Maryland


Supplemental Materials


About the Author

Andrew B. Arnold is chair of the history department, Kutztown University. He received his PhD from the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill.

192 pp., 4 x 7

ISBN: 978-1-62616-582-3
Apr 2018

192 pp., 4 x 7

ISBN: 978-1-62616-558-8
Apr 2018

192 pp.

ISBN: 978-1-62616-559-5
Apr 2018

Related Titles