- Richard B. Bernstein
:"For the chemist called Richard B. Bernstein see
Richard Barry Bernstein."Richard B. Bernstein is a constitutional historian and author of several books on that subject. Born in Flushing, New York, on 24 May 1956, the oldest son of Fred Bernstein and Marilyn [Berman] Bernstein, Bernstein was educated in the New York City public schools, graduating from Stuyvesant High Schoolin 1973. He attended Amherst College, where he was graduated in 1977 with a B.A. magna cum laude in American Studies. While at Amherst, he was a research assistant to Henry Steele Commager. Bernstein then attended Harvard Law Schoolfrom 1977 to 1980, graduating with a J.D. in November 1980.
After three years practicing law, Bernstein left the legal profession to return to the study of history, doing graduate work at
New York University. From 1983 to the present he has been a member of the New York University Legal History Colloquium, and he has been active in the writing of legal and constitutional history and in activities to promote the historical profession.
From 1984 to 1987 he was research curator for the Constitution Bicentennial Project of The New York Public Library, working with Kym S. Rice under the supervision of Richard B. Morris, Gouverneur Morris Professor of History Emeritus at Columbia University. Among the products of this project was Bernstein's first book, Are We to Be a Nation? The Making of the Constitution, published by Harvard University Press. From 1987 to 1990 Bernstein was historian on the staff of the New York City Commission on the Bicentennial of the U.S. Constitution, and from 1989 to 1990 he was research director of the New York State Commission on the Bicentennial of the Constitution.
In the spring of 1988 Bernstein was a visiting part-time lecturer in history at Rutgers University -- Newark. In 1991, he was named an adjunct assistant professor of law at
New York Law School, where he has taught courses on American legal history and law and literature ever since. In 2007 he was named Distinguished Adjunct Professor of Law. In 1997-1998 he also was the Daniel M. Lyons Visiting Professor of History at Brooklyn College of the City University of New York.
Bernstein also has written, in addition to Are We to Be a Nation?, Amending America: If We Love the Constitution So Much, Why Do We Keep Trying to Change IT?, a history of the U.S. Constitution's amending process and the successful and unsuccessful attempts to amend the Constitution from 1789 through the early 1990s; Thomas Jefferson and Bolling v. Bolling: Law and the Legal Profession in Pre-Revolutionary America, coedited with Barbara Wilcie Kern and Bernard Schwartz; and Thomas Jefferson, published in 2003. Gordon S. Wood's review in
The New York Times Book Reviewcalled Bernstein's 2003 book Thomas Jefferson "the best short biography of Jefferson ever written." [http://www.nyls.edu/pages/3849.asp]
Bernstein's books-in-progress include The Founding Fathers Reconsidered; a concise life of John Adams modeled on his 2003 biography of Thomas Jefferson; a study of the First Congress as an experiment in government; and an examination of the place of scientific ideas and technological developments in American constitutional history.
From 1997 to 2004 Bernstein was co-editor of book reviews for H-LAW, the listserv co-sponsored by H-NET (Humanities and Social Sciences Network On-Line) and the American Society for Legal HIstory. He is also a member of H-LAW's editorial board. For three years he served on the editorial board of Law and Social Inquiry, the journal of the American Bar Foundation. In 2004 he was elected to the board of directors of the American Society for Legal History for a three-year term.
In 1993, Bernstein changed his byline from Richard B. Bernstein to R. B. Bernstein to avoid confusion with the several other Richard Bernsteins active in journalism and law.
In November 2002, in addition to his scholarly activities, Bernstein became director of online operations at Heights Books, Inc., a used-bookstore in Brooklyn. He and his big fat ego can be found passing judgement, looking down his nose, and fluffing his own feathers on a daily basis.
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