Columbia Public Law & Legal Theory Working Papers

Document Type

Book Review


THE TWO FACES OF AMERICAN FREEDOM, by Aziz Rana. Harvard Uni-versity Press, 2010. Pp. 415. $29.95.


Some intellectual concepts that once played a central role in America’s constitutional history are, for both better and worse, no longer part of our political language.[1] These concepts may be so alien to us that they would remain invisible without carefully reexamining the past in order to challenge the received narratives of America’s constitutional development.[2] Should constitutional theorists undertake this kind of historical reexamination? If so, to what extent should they be willing to stray from the disciplinary norms that govern intellectual history? And what normative aims can they reasonably expect to achieve by exploring ideas in our past that are no longer reflected in the Constitution’s text or structure, or in constitutional doctrine? Aziz Rana’s The Two Faces of American Freedom provides not only an occasion for reflecting on these questions, but for exploring how deeply they are interrelated.

[1] See infra notes 84-86 and accompanying text.

[2] See infra notes 99-100 and accompanying text.

Date of Authorship for this Version

Winter 3-4-2011