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Federalist Papers translations: book reviews

The Federalist Papers: In Modern Language

copyright 1999

"Must-have" reference

By Ztrider@AOL.Com on June 21, 1999

Mary Webster's new book "The Federalist Papers--In Modern Language Indexed for Today's Political Issues" is a "must-have" reference work. If you are a serious student, a teacher, a professional or just interested in Constitutional issues, Miss Webster's book should be there next to your dictionary. Any of us who have delved into the original Federalist Papers know what a confusing morass of run-on, page long sentences you sometimes find. Miss Webster's book can save you hours of trying to parse those difficult sentences written in antique English. But don't expect some of those troubling ambiguities--like, "What does this 'it' refer to?"--to be cleared up. Miss Webster's stated objective was to TRANSLATE rather than to interpret. However, the cleaned up text will make it easier for you to make your own interpretation. Near the front of the book you will find a complete copy of The US Constitution. That's very handy for those of us who go off looking for our lost copy whenever our ire is aroused by some questionable interpretation. Almost as handy is the "map" provided next to the Constitution showing which parts are associated with which paragraphs in the Federalist Papers. Worth the price alone is the extensive index associating political issues with the appropriate paragraphs in the Federalist Papers. You no longer have to be an "expert" who has memorized the "Papers" to quickly turn to the proper paragraphs. Miss Webster's book might not be something we'd sit down and read from cover to cover. How many of us do that with an encyclopedia or dictionary? But when the need arises, they are extremely handy to have on the bookshelf.

An Aid To Understanding Our Political Heritage

By W. C HALL on January 4, 2004

Mary E. Webster has performed an invaluable public service with this book. The Federalist Papers are among the most significant documents of this nation's founding era, yet they go largely unread, primarily because of their legalistic tone and complex sentence structure. As Webster states in her introduction, she has no political or social axe to grind and no agenda to fulfill. She simply wished to make these important documents available to a wider audience, and has succeeded admirably in that goal.

Webster's background allowed her to bring a one-of-a-kind approach to this project. She's not a political scholar; she is a published novelist, and a certified interpreter for the deaf. She says this was her best preparation for conveying what Hamilton, Madison and Jay actually meant. Also, she cautions this work is not meant as a substitute for reading the papers themselves; rather she hopes it will inspire readers (as it did this one) to go to the originals with greater interest and confidence.

In addition to the "translation" of the papers, Webster has also provided a comprehensive index to their contents. There's been much debate in recent years about the "original intent" of the men who drafted the constitution. The best places to find their true intentions are in the records of the constitutional convention itself and in the Federalist Papers. It's all here, from taxation and property rights, to gun rights and the impeachment process. This is a book for the scholar, the student and any citizen who cares about our most fundamental rights.--William C. Hall

Five Stars

ByJoan C. Frondorfon November 25, 2016     Verified Purchase

This was very helpful, since I bought the book "THE FEDERALIST PAPERS".

Excellent book that gives understanding of the intent the Framers ...

ByAmazon Customer on September 10, 2016     Verified Purchase

Excellent book that gives understanding of the intent the Framers had when writing the Constitution in a language we speak today.

Five Stars

ByJ. Mlakaron June 10, 2016     Verified Purchase

Great resource - fast service - THANKS!


Five Stars

ByByron Ryanon March 24, 2016    Verified Purchase


Two Stars

ByCharles L. Beanon February 4, 2016   Verified Purchase

Still reading

Five Stars

ByDennis V. Sinclairon June 9, 2015  Verified Purchase

Great, well-written companion to the Unites States Consrtitution

The Federalist Papers: Modern English Edition Two

copyright 2008

Excellent Study Guide

By L. Tozzi on April 25, 2009

This translation of the Federalist Papers into modern English is superb. Not only has it made me extremely well-prepared for class, it has given me a much clearer understanding and deeper appreciation for our Constitution. I've never written a review for anything online before - ever! But I feel so strongly a/b this book that I wanted to let others know how great it is.


A Tremendous Effort

By Kevin J. Brogan on February 1, 2010

The tremendous insight we can gain from the Federalist Essays is to a degree hampered by the language used by 18th Century authors. Classically trained and devoted to perspicuity they meticulously applied words that contained precise sentiments they wished to convey. Madison acknowledged this very fact in Federalist 37. This is true even reading Washington's Addresses, so it is a matter to be dealt with by all of us, as well as the changing meanings of words over time. In McCullough's book on Adam's he noted the difference between awful as we use it ,and how Adams used the term, that is to express awe.

The Federalist Essays in Modern Language exhibits a valiant and timely effort to build a stronger bridge between us and our precious heritage. It is such efforts we need to support for the inestimable benefits we can gain. Although some might dismiss such efforts to comprehend the original understanding found in the essays as a fool's errand, we should never the less proceed. It may be intellectually lazy not to consider and to reflect on the insights found there, and employ the information to our common benefit.

In the process of bringing the Essays into common language we increase access by all.

Thank you Mary Webster.


The Federalist Papers resurrected!

By 2bluesky2 on July 4, 2011

Thomas Jefferson once praised the Federalist Papers as "the best commentary on the principles of government, which ever was written." Despite the superlative quality of its content, the authors of the Federalist Papers unfortunately used a stultifying writing style still common among lawyers today. Sentences drag on and on. Elaborate modifying clauses confuse rather than illuminate the text. It is no wonder that the Federalist Papers get little use or recognition in our educational system. They're nearly unreadable, unless you are a lawyer.

Some people mistakenly say that the authors of Federalist Papers were writing in the style of the times. Not so! Any school child can read a copy of the Declaration of Independence or the US Constitution and understand it immediately. Good writers of those times could write prose that endures for centuries. The contrary is also true: brilliant analysis buried in unreadable prose will gather dust on a library shelf. That has been the fate of the Federalist Papers for too long.

I think there are three very useful ways to use Mary Webster's translation. First, just read her translation. By itself it accurately recites all the brilliant analysis from the original - and it is so very readable. It can stand alone as an enlightening text. A second way to use Mary Webster's text is to first read her translation of any one of the original 85 papers, then read the original. Her paragraphing follows the exact paragraphing as the original. She also adds helpful subtitles. Once you know what the original authors intended to say, it is much easier to plow through their difficult prose. Successfully reading the original text is always a satisfying experience. Reading the translation first makes reading the original much easier.Read more ›

A third way to use Mary Webster's text is to read and compare the arguments in the Federalist Papers to those of the anti-federalist writing of the times. There are many collections of the anti-federalist papers, as well as useful online indexes of the anti-federalist writings. The anti-federalists were not just a bunch of dunderheads of their times. Some of their trenchant writings inspired and provoked specific responses in the Federalist Papers. Modern indexes and the internet help us to see just how vigorous the arguments were from both sides of the debate on the nation's new constitution. As brilliant as the arguments in the Federalist Papers are, some of the anti-federalist writings were stunningly accurate in predicting the weaknesses in the new constitution and how history would bring those weaknesses out. You will enhance your appreciation of the Federalist Papers and the Constitution by studying the arguments both for and against the adopting of the Constitution.

Mary Webster will surely be remembered as the person who resurrected the Federalist Papers by "translating" them into readable English. Our lost treasure is now accessible to the general reader! The wisdom of James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, and John Jay is available to all. With a chuckle I am sure that Thomas Jefferson would say that the best commentary on the principles of government has finally become a readable commentary too!

By Mike Bryanton October 19, 2014   Verified Purchase

Well written with clear modern English and documentation.

The translation into modern language is great. Do NOT buy the Kindle edition

By Alan W.on August 12, 2014     Verified Purchase

The translation into modern language is great. Do NOT buy the Kindle edition. The table of contents is not linked and the page numbers listed are not accurate as well. I am going to see if I can return the Kindle edition... it is that bad.

A must read for anyone who loves this nation.

By Karen E. Roubalon April 28, 2014     Verified Purchase

We are to often not taught about the details of the country we live in. These types of books are a must read for all patriots.

Federalist Papers in Modern Day Language

By Michael A. Toneron February 1, 2014    Verified Purchase

The Federalist Papers brought up to date. This is a good modern version of the FP. A book worth keeping for reference from time to time.

Colonial thought about governments before 1787

By Ambo Schotzon December 1, 2013    Verified Purchase

Should be required reading by all high school students before graduation. Modern English definitely makes the Federalist Papers easier to under stand. Provides a background of Colonial thought before the Constitution was written.

Makes Reading the Federalist Papers easy.

By The Eagle on October 25, 2013    Verified Purchase

Written in modern English it helps make the ideas and arguments of the Federalist Papers clear. Anyone that would like to study the Federalist Papers but finds plowing through the writing style of the 1780's tedious will love this volume.

Its the Federalist Papers???

By Crypticon July 29, 2013    Verified Purchase

Its the Federalist papers in easy to understand English. There is not much you can write to promote this other then its part of American history and everyone should read them. If you like History and want to know why and how your American Constitution was written buy this book.

A Translation, not Just a Paraphrase

By Gary Fisher on November 3, 2011    Verified Purchase

If you've read Homer's Odyssey, or Jules Verne, or even the Bible, it's very likely you didn't read it in the original language. Some, perhaps most, of the world's greatest literature was written in language unfamiliar to many current readers. Ideally we read carefully researched and elegantly produced translations which meticulously preserve not only the meaning but the power of the original, a very difficult and admirable achievement. If your exposure was through one of the "Classic Comics" Classics Illustrated #8: The Count of Monte Cristo (Classics Illustrated Graphic Novels) or a film version medusa against the son of hercules then you've experienced a paraphrase, more or less loosely based on the original but seldom complete or accurate, certainly not sufficient to impart a good understanding of the original.

In her "Federalist Papers in Modern English" Mary Webster has performed the great service of translating the unfamiliar language of the eighteenth century precisely and carefully into the English of today, so that it's now possible to read and understand these absolutely foundational essays without consulting a dictionary and a thesaurus to work through words and phraseology which have long since fallen from common usage.

Over the past two or three years paraphrase versions of The Federalist Papers have appeared on the market, some worse than others and some rushed into publication so hurriedly that major portions are missing. Mary Webster's masterful translation suffers from none of those limitations; accurate, powerful and complete, this book is indispensable to the historian yet accessible to high-school students. Extensively indexed and highly readable, "The Federalist Papers in Modern English" belongs on your bookshelf and would make a wonderful and lasting gift.

The Federalist Papers: Summaries of the 85 Papers

Federalist papers

By P. Arney on November 29, 2010   Verified Purchase

I have developed a keen interest in the last year or so to find out more about our founding documents and what the founding fathers had in mind. The Federalist Papers is a good place to start. Mary E. Webster has published several versions of the papers and has a particular talent for making them understandable. As the title indicates, this book is a quick study summary for the full Federalist Papers. I recommend along with this booklet Mary E. Webster's The Federalist Papers, Modern English Edition Two; and her The United States Constitution Annotated with The Federalist Papers in Modern English, both available from Amazon. To complete the study of the Federalist Papers, The Anti-Federalist Papers by Patick Henry, also available from Amazon, should be read.

I don't take very good notes while studying and

By D V Smoak on June 8, 2015   Verified Purchase

I currently am passionate for learning more about our constitutional rights and how to use them in governing LOCALLY to help maintain our republic. However, I don't take very good notes while studying and, being dyslexic, I can't read them later anyway. So the work that Ms Webster has done for me is worth far more than the price. It is also a summary which allows a quick reference to the exact discussion I'll want to review. Even were I good with note taking, her work is still a valuable reference.

The United States Constitution:

Annotated with The Federalist Papers

In Modern English

I love this book!

By Cathy M. on September 23, 2010   Verified Purchase

I heard about this book by accident, as I just caught the tail end of a radio interview with Mary Webster. When I heard the final rap-up of the interview, and the books description, I knew I had to have this book. I have read thru the Federalist Papers several times but have found it very difficult to understand the colonial colloquialisms. I found myself just reading the words and never really understanding their meaning. Mary has used the interpretations of each Federalist essay from her previously published, The Federalist Papers: Modern English Edition Two, which makes each essay totally understandable and much easier to read. At first I was a little apprehensive reading only interpretation, but since they were identified and referenced back to each original Federalist Paper essay and paragraph, you can go back and read the 18th century text, which I did, and sure enough, you'll find Mary's modern interpretation conveys the exact same meaning only easier to understand.

It's great the way she coordinates each section of the Constitution with the explanations given in each Federalist Paper essay. She works her way thru the entire Constitution starting with the Preamble.

If the light went on when you read the 5000 Year Leap, then the light will become even brighter after reading this! There will no longer be any doubt in your mind that the current Federal Government has grossly overstepped its bounds and is not the type of government our Founding Fathers had intended for us.


Difficult to put down.

By J. Hyma on June 2, 2010     Verified Purchase

I recieved this book yesterday, and started reading it about 6:00 pm. I think I finally put it down at mid-night. The founding fathers were clearly students of history, and now more than 200 years later, history repeats itself, again. You can almost feel the internal conflict as Alexander Hamilton fought to restrict the size and power of the federal government and yet give it enough power to do what it was designed to do. These writings are so relevent and timeless. I believe that if they would have known what the government was to become, they would have done more to specifically limit it's power.


A valuable reference book on the US Constitution and the Federalist Papers.

By 2bluesky2 on November 20, 2011

The Federalist Papers are the most famous commentaries on the meaning of the US Constitution. They were written as 85 short newspaper articles under the anonymous name "Publius." The actual authors were Alexander Hamilton, John Jay, and James Madison. Hamilton and Madison attended the Constitutional Convention in 1787 and so they were especially qualified to write the first comprehensive commentaries on the Constitution.

Unfortunately, up to now it has been nearly impossible to try to isolate what the Federalist Papers say about any particular clause in the US Constitution.

Mary Webster's book solves that problem. Her book breaks the Constitution down into its shortest relevant clauses, sentences, or paragraphs. Beneath each section of the Constitution she sets forth the text of the Federalist Papers that comment on that section. Readers of the Federalist Papers are aware that they were written in the complex legalese of the day. Modern readers find the original text almost unreadable. Instead of using the original Federalist Papers text in this book, Mary Webster instead uses her "translated" text which she has published separately (and which is also available on Amazon). In addition to the translated text of the Papers, she includes a notation of the original Paper number (1-85) and the paragraph number(s) of that text. Using her notations allow you to easily find the original text in any published edition of the original Papers.

This book provides a service not available anywhere else. Now, knowing a particular clause of the Constitution which you are interested in, you can find in one place all the commentaries relating to that clause in the Federalist Papers. This book provides a much needed research tool for interested laymen and scholars of the US Constitution.


By Thomas E. McDonald on December 30, 2011  Verified Purchase

I teach an Introduction to Law course and spend 5 of the 14 weeks on the Constitution. This book has provided me with more insight that I am then able to share and pass on to my students. A great book if you want to know your Consititution and Federalists papers and the realtion between the two.


Excellent Idea! Combines the Constitution with the Federalist Papers

By Tracy S. Kayon February 26, 2015     Verified Purchase

Outstanding book. Fascinating to read the Constitution with the applicable parts of the Federalist Papers associated with each clause.

Should Be Mandatory Reading For Every American

By James Clementon March 3, 2014      Verified Purchase

Since we live in a Constitutional Republic and NOT a democracy, The Constitution should be read, known, and carried on every American Citizen.

Any questions about what is in the constitution, for example heated debate on the 2nd Amendment can be answered by reading the Federalist Papers. The Federalist Papers were written by Alexander Hamilton as a companion to the Constitution to address concerns about The Constitution to a group of states wary of too much government control.

Buy, Read, Learn, and Vote.

Good for reference

By fish on February 4, 2013     Verified Purchase

Definitely not a book for casual reading. Works best for researching or answering questions on a specific topic such as the second amendment. Very helpful because of the plain language cross-referencing. Knowing that going in, it is very good.

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