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Defining Documents in American History:
The Gun Debate
Beginning with the drafting of the Constitution itself up to the present day, there have been intense arguments made both for and against the rights of citizens to form a "well-regulated militia" as set forth in the second Amendment. The arguments have become more impassioned in recent years due to the rising numbers of incidents of school and other mass shootings. This volume analyzes documents that have played a significant role in the attempt to balance the long tradition of gun culture in this country with calls for gun control, including: the Second Amendment; St. George Tucker, Blackstone's Commentaries; No Treason by Lysander Spooner; U.S. v. Miller; District of Columbia v. Heller and Firearms in America: Personal Liberty versus Collective Responsibility.
February 2019
ISBN: 978-1-64265-034-1
Price: $295
Each in-depth chapter provides a thorough commentary and analysis of each primary source document, often reprinted in its entirety. Commentary includes a Summary, Overview, Defining Moment, Author Biography, Detailed Document Analysis, and discussion of Essential Themes.
Defining Documents in American History:
Capital Punishment
March 2019
ISBN: 978-1-64265-036-5
Price: $295
Capital punishment has been the ultimate consequence for criminals in the United States since before the nation was established. The Eighth Amendment in the Bill of Rights prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, and the Fourteenth Amendment in the Reconstruction Amendments requires due process of law before the taking of a life.

The original documents in these volumes review both the policies and principles of capital punishment that continue to evolve. Documents discussed in this volume include: A Further Account of the Tryals of the New-England Witches, sent in a Letter from thence, to a Gentlemen in London; The Eight Amendment; The Fourteenth Amendment; and the Supreme Court decisions in Furman v. Georgia that ended the moratorium on capital punishment; Hall v. Florida , which ruled that the condemned has the burden of proof when challenging the constitutionality of the execution method.
Each in-depth chapter provides a thorough commentary and analysis of each primary source document, often reprinted in its entirety. Commentary includes a Summary, Overview, Defining Moment, Author Biography, Detailed Document Analysis, and discussion of Essential Themes.
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Defining Documents in American History:
Prison Reform
Prisoners have been part of the population in America since the first settlers arrived from Europe. Since then, there have been efforts to reform and improve the prison system in this country. This volume gathers together and analyzes documents that discuss the fierce debates and legislation related to prison reform, the privatization of prisons, the efforts to end practices like solitary confinement, and the improvement of mental health care in prisons.

Documents analyzed in these volumes include: Remarks on Prisons and Prison Systems in the United States by Dorothea Dix; the Declaration of Principles by the National Congress of Penitentiary and Reformatory Discipline; Fifty Years of Prison Service: An Autobiography , by Zebulon Reed Brockway; Changing Lenses-A New Focus for Crime and Justice by Howard Zehr, " Privatizing Correctional Institutions: An Organizational Perspective," by David Shichor and the FIRST STEP Act.
April 2019
ISBN: 978-1-64265-038-9
Price: $295
Each in-depth chapter provides a thorough commentary and analysis of each primary source document, often reprinted in its entirety. Commentary includes a Summary, Overview, Defining Moment, Author Biography, Detailed Document Analysis, and discussion of Essential Themes.
Defining Documents in American History:
The Legacy of 9/11
Pub. Date: November 2018
ISBN: 978-1-68217-921-5
List Price: $175
The tension between personal liberties and national security, always ready to erupt in the political fights played out in Washington, D.C., became a daily concern for all U.S. citizens in the wake of the attacks on September 11, 2001. Names and groups connected to terror–Osama bin Laden, Ayman al Zawahiri, Abu Bakr al Baghdadi, al Queda, ISIS, Army of Islam, Hezbollah, and the Muslim Brotherhood—became a regular feature of the nightly news.

Each chapter provides a thorough commentary and a deep analysis of the primary source document, often reproduced in its entirety. Chapters provide a Summary Overview, outline the Defining Moment, and include an Author Biography, Document Analysis, and Essential Themes.
Documents analyzed in this set include:
  • Ladenese epistle (fatwa by Osama bin Laden against the United States);
  • George W. Bush’s Bullhorn Speech;
  • President Bush Outlines Iraqi Threat;
  • My Guantánamo Diary, Uncensored by Mohamedou Ould Slahi;
  • The Patriot Act; Senate Resolution 118;
  • Detainee Treatment Act (banning enhanced interrogation practices);
  • Obama Announces the Death of Osama bin Laden;
  • the Muslim Brotherhood: Evolution of an Islamist Movement;
  • Trump’s Travel Ban (including challenges and court rulings).
Defining Documents in American History:
Secrets, Leaks, and Scandals
Pub. Date: November 2018
ISBN: 978-1-68217-698-6
List Price: $295
The tension between openness and transparency with the need to keep information secure and out of the hands of an enemy has been at the heart of some of the most riveting episodes in American history. Political scandals such as the Red Scare and the Pumpkin Papers; Nixon and Watergate; Monica Lewinsky and Bill Clinton; and Russian interference in U.S. elections, have captured the attention of both the American public and the global audience, as secrets and leaks fuel speculation and often result in dramatic actions from impeachment to convictions.
Over 80 documents are organized into the following major categories: Political Scandals; Spies and Espionage; Social Scandals; Financial Schemes; Whistleblowers; Wikileaks; and Institutional Dirty Linen Laundering.
Each document chapter includes the primary source document, often reproduced in its entirety, Summary Overview, Defining Moment, Author Biography, Document Analysis, and Essential Themes.

Documents analyzed in this 2-volume set include:
  • Russian Hacking Scandal Testimony (2017);
  • Richard Nixon: Smoking Gun Tape (1972);
  • Bill Clinton: Remarks at Annual Prayer Breakfast (1998);
  • Report on the Crisis in the Catholic Church in the U.S. (2004)
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Researchers and Give Students a New Frame of Reference for the Study of American &
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"A unique insight into some of the most important legal, social, political and philosophical works." -Booklist

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"A worthwhile addition to a variety of libraries from high school to undergraduate to the local public library branch." - Against the Grain
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41 DOCUMENT-FILLED TITLES PUT YOU IN THE HISTORICAL MOMENT

Written by historians and experts in the field, chapters highlight each document's historical impact and provide thoughtful critical analysis, including:
  • Summary Overview
  • Defining Moment
  • Author Biography
  • Document Analysis
  • Essential Themes
  • Historical Timeline
  • Supplemental Readings

The Defining Documents series provides in-depth analysis of the most important documents that helped shape U.S. and World History, from 2700 B.C.E to the present. Order today to put these important resources into the hands of your students and researchers. 
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