From the 1700s through the 20th century, written constitutions have changed not just America but the world, posits Linda Colley. She traces how these documents have been used both to empower and at times to marginalize the disadvantaged, bringing to the fore Corsica, with its pioneering constitution of 1755, and tiny Pitcairn Island in the Pacific, the first place on the globe to permanently enfranchise women. Here too are Japan, Russia, Tunisia, and Sierra Leone, and Colley notes constitutional connections with literary movements and the rise of the novel.
"If there were a Nobel Prize in History, Colley would be my nominee…. An incandescent, paradigm-shifting new book."—Jill Lepore