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
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Q: Thank you for this interview, Kyle. Can you tell us what your latest book, The Federalist Papers: A Reader’s Guide, is all about?
A: The Federalist Papers: A Reader’s Guide is an attempt to make The Federalist Papers accessible to more people. With growing interest in the founding generation, and the continual question raised by our politicians of original intent, I think it is important for people to find out for themselves what this work is all about. Also, the debate over the constitution’s ratification demonstrates that political rhetoric need not be empty sound bites but can be elevated to philosophical discourse without losing its realism.
A: 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.
Q: What kind of research did you do before and during the writing of your book?
A: I tried to read all of the secondary and primary literature on Hamilton, Madison and Jay in order to get a better grasp of what they were trying to say. But with so much information it was tough to distill it down to its essence. This book is my attempt to do the heavy lifting for the reader who has other things to do with their time but still finds the subject important.
Q: If a reader can come away from reading your book with one valuable message, what would that be?
A: That political rhetoric can be elevated beyond where it is now and needs to be if we are to move forward in a more productive fashion.
Q: In your own experience, is it hard to get a nonfiction book published today? How did you do it?
A: I’ve written four books and I have had each published. But it did require a lot of submissions to various publishers that either rejected the book or did not bother to respond. I think an agent or editor might help the process along. Of course, with each passing year I think the process of getting a book placed with a traditional press will get more difficult as the competition from self-publishing and e-readers intensifies.
Q: What’s a typical day like for you?
A: Sometimes I wish those existed. In addition to my teaching and writing I run a family business. So depending on what needs tending to that day dictates what my day looks like.
Q: What’s next for you?
A: 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.
Q: Thank you so much for this interview, Kyle. We wish you much success!
A: Thank you for giving me the chance to discuss my book.