Home » Author Interviews » Author Interview: Kyle Scott and The Federalist Papers

Author Interview: Kyle Scott and The Federalist Papers


Kyle Scott, PhD, teaches American politics and constitutional law at Duke University. He has published three books and dozens of articles on issues ranging from political parties to Plato. His commentary on contemporary politics has appeared in Forbes, Reuters.com, Christian Science Monitor, Foxnews.com, and dozens of local outlets including the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun.

To find out more, please visit http://kyleascott.wordpress.com

Find him on Twitter at : ScottKyleA

Find him on Facebook at : http://www.facebook.com/kyleasc

Welcome to Between the Covers!  Why was writing The Federalist Papers: A Reader’s Guide so important to you?

When I see a problem addressed irresponsibly or incorrectly I feel compelled to make a contribution. In The Federalist Papers: A Reader’s Guide I try to show how an open and reasoned dialogue between two opposing sides can be productive. In today’s political climate that seems so polarized and characterized by petty bickering I think we can learn a lot from the ratification debates and I try to help the reader see why the ratification debates have practical relevance for today. The goal was to break them out of their stale reputation and let readers see how alive and relevant the writings are.

What was the experience like writing?

Intense. There has been so much written on the founding of the U.S. that it can be tough to offer a fresh perspective. But I think I did this by simplifying the debate and showing its contemporary relevance.

How did you come up with the title?

The book is part of a Reader’s Guide series at Continuum/Bloomsbury so the title came from them.

Can you tell us more about yourself?

In addition to being an author of four books and a professor of political science I run a family business in Houston where my wife and I raise our two children. My wife and I compete in triathlons and our family hobby is travel. We spent this past summer in London for the Games. We usually try to go somewhere every month.

Can you open to page 25 and tell us what’s happening?

This page is the first page of chapter 1. So good choice! Here I introduce the reader to The Federalist Papers by providing a bit of background to the debate. The Federalist Papers were written to the people of New York to convince them to ratify the new constitution. Think of the stakes! If they did a bad job we would likely not have our current constitution, or if we did, we would not have the sophisticated defense of its principles that The Federalist Papers provide.

What about page 65?

On this page I am simply giving an outline of the various papers. Since The Federalist Papers is such a large tome, my book tries to provide a summary and outline to help the reader along. Not everyone has the time to slough through all the papers. So this book helps that process along.

Now that The Federalist Papers: A Reader’s Guide has been published, what is your next project?

I’m working on a book about the value of humility. I think we could avoid a lot of conflict in our personal lives, in politics, business, and internationally if we were more open to discussing the ideas of others and not so conceited in thinking that we know it all. It’s easy to be defensive and arrogant, but it’s not necessarily the best course of action. The book is designed to help us see the value of humility and how it might be incorporated into various contexts.

 Do you have anything else you’d like to tell our readers?

If you don’t read my book find some other way to familiarize yourself with The Federalist Papers. Our current political culture is taking a nose dive, we need to appreciate sophisticated political dialogue if we want to turn it around.


The Federalist Papers constitute a key document in the understanding of the American government. Written by John Jay, James Madison, and Alexander Hamilton, these 85 texts were published between 1787 and 1788 to convince the state of New York to ratify the Constitution.

Today, the Papers are studied in courses on American government, American political thought, and constitutional law. However, the size and organization of the full text, notwithstanding its complex political concepts and context, make it difficult for students to apprehend. The Reader’s Guide will be a key tool to help them understand the issues at hand and the significance of the Papers then and now. Organized around key issues, such as the branches of the government, the utility of the Union, or skepticism of a national regime, the work will walk the reader through the 85 Papers, providing them with the needed intellectual and historical contexts.

Designed to supplement the reading of The Federalist Papers, the guide will help elucidate not only their contents, but also their importance and contemporary relevance.


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