Ellis ... writes with insight and acuity in the present tense, just as he always has in the past tense, and in American Dialogue he draws connections between our history and our present reality with an authority that few other authors can muster. It may cost him some of his readership on the right, but Ellis, clearly, has reached the limit of his tolerance for the mythical, indeed farcical, notion that the anti-Federalists won the argument in the late 18th century, or that the founders, to a man, stood for small and weak government, unrestrained market capitalism, unfettered gun ownership and the unlimited infusion of money into the political sphere.
The treatments of each subject can be uneven; it’s very likely that different readers will find different sections uneven, depending on where they agree with Ellis ... The book offers less on current race relations, a topic that confounds most commentators, though its focus on a 'biracial' America can feel dated in the midst of our multiracial reality ... In discussing law, and spotlighting James Madison, Ellis is less surefooted, overstating judicial rulings he dislikes while pronouncing that the Supreme Court has become 'the dominant branch of the federal government' on domestic policy. The tone grows bitter, dismissing Justice Antonin Scalia’s opinion on the Second Amendment ... Ellis’s powerful epigram captures why we now have so much war: 'It is not declared, few have to fight, and no one has to pay.' Or maybe you would argue the point. Ellis will oblige you.