Gary Rose's Book Included in National Association of Scholar's List of Recommended College Reading

News Story: October 1, 2010

New textbook on landmark Supreme Court rulings ranks among just 43 recommendations

A new book by Dr. Gary Rose, professor and chair of Government and Politics at Sacred Heart University, has been included in the National Association of Scholars’ (NAS) list of recommended books for university common reading programs.

The exclusive list of 43 books is divided into two sections. The first is comprised of works “Appropriate for Any College Common Book Program,” including Nathaniel Hawthorne’s The Blithedale Romance, Benjamin Franklin’s Autobiography, Mark Twain’s Life on the Mississippi, two books from the Bible (Job and Ecclesiastes), and three works by William Shakespeare (Julius Caesar, Richard III and Henry V). The second part lists “More Ambitious Choices,” including Fyodor Dostoevsky’s Crime and Punishment, Herman Melville’s The Confidence-Man and Rose’s Shaping A Nation: Twenty-Five Supreme Court Cases That Changed the United States.

Rose, who has taught constitutional law at SHU for 28 years, says he wanted to write the book initially to fulfill a need in his own classroom.

“I have used different text books, and most of them contain so many cases that you can never get through them all,” Rose says. “I thought that for a one-semester Con-Law class, you don’t have to have something as massive as some of these books are. So I said, ‘I’m going to write my own book, and I’m going to write one which includes the cases I think any undergraduate student of constitutional law or political science — or really almost any student — should know when they graduate from college.’ I picked the 25 and wrote the introduction to each one and did a lot of research on each case and then edited the case down and presented the opinions in a coherent way.”

The cases discussed in the book have each played a unique part in changing American law, politics and history, which Rose says is an important message for the reader. “When students come to the end of the final chapter and close the book, I think they will see just what role the Supreme Court — a small handful of justices throughout our nation’s history — has had in determining the destiny of our country,” he says. “That’s why I titled it Shaping a Nation. It’s really unbelievable how these rulings have really structured our political, social and economic system here in this country. I want the reader to get an understanding of how Supreme Court rulings, and hence constitutional law, have molded who we are as free people.”

Shaping a Nation was released by Academica Press in March 2010 — making it the most recently published in the NAS’ list of works that date back as far as 3,000 years. Despite its modernity, the book’s focused analysis on important legal and social issues is what wooed the association’s recommendation.

“Many college students aren’t familiar with any of the major U.S. Supreme Court cases that have played a central role in our national identity. We think that should change,” says NAS Director Of Communications Ashley Thorne, who co-wrote the article introducing the list with NAS President Peter Wood. “We recommended Shaping a Nation as a book for college common reading because it seemed an accessible introduction to the key Supreme Court cases, one that students could use as a manual, and a book that exemplifies the work of a thoughtful scholar. It’s the newest book among the 43 we selected, but it spans two centuries of crucial moments in American history.”

Shaping a Nation is Rose’s ninth book. Others include Connecticut Government and Politics: An Introduction, Controversial Issues in Presidential Selection, and The American Presidency Under Siege.

The NAS, based in Princeton, New Jersey, was founded in 1987. Its website describes the organization as “an independent membership association of academics working to foster intellectual freedom and to sustain the tradition of reasoned scholarship and civil debate in America’s colleges and universities.” Its list of books recommended for college common reading can be referenced at www.nas.org/polBooks.cfm.