Interview with Kyle Scott, author of 'The Federalist Papers: A Reader's Guide'


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,, Christian Science Monitor,, and dozens of local outlets including the Philadelphia Inquirer and Baltimore Sun. To find out more, please visit
Find him on Twitter at : ScottKyleA
Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life, Kyle Scott. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself and how long you’ve been writing? 

A: Professionally I’ve been writing for seven years. My first book was a revised version of my dissertation. It was only with my second book that I began to recognize writing for an academic audience is something completely different from writing for a commercial audience. In my work I try to stay grounded in the disciplined method of inquiry of the social sciences while trying to say something interesting and pertinent to those not in the field. I think it’s important to balance the two objectives so one can responsibly say something important to a large number of people.

Q: Can you please tell us about your book and why you wrote it? 

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.

Q: What were some of the biggest challenges you faced writing it? 

A: My biggest challenge was treating the arguments put forth by Hamilton, Madison, and Jay fairly. We treat the founders with a reverence that can sometimes be unhealthy. While they were brilliant thinkers, their thoughts were not always complete. I think they would encourage a critical inquiry into what they said in order to better understand the nature of politics. But, one does not want to be dismissive either. So finding the balance between criticism and admiration could be tough at times.

Q: Do you have a press kit and what do you include in it? Does this press kit appear online and, if so, can you provide a link to where we can see it? 

A: I’m working with Pump up Your Book. 

Q: Have you either spoken to groups of people about your book or appeared on radio or TV? What are your upcoming plans for doing so? 

A: I speak every opportunity I get. I have had the opportunity to speak with the North Carolina History Project and several radio shows have been kind enough to have me on. Most of my outreach is in print. I have an upcoming article in Christian Science Monitor as well as with UK Progressive and Liberty. I always make sure to post my latest writing and speaking information through Twitter, Facebook and on my blog.

Q: Do you have an agent and, if so, would you mind sharing who he/is is? If not, have you ever had an agent or do you even feel it’s necessary to have one? 

A: I do not have an agent and obviously I don’t think one is necessary. I have published four books without one. But, I think it would be a great benefit to have one. It is always nice to have someone helping you along.

Q: Did you, your agent or publisher prepare a media blitz before the book came out and would you like to tell us about it? 

A: The only media blitz is the one with Pump up your book.

Q: Do you plan subsequent books? 

A: Of course there will be other books. The next book will be on humility. Just think of how many marriages could be saved, or wars averted, if people were more willing to admit that they might be wrong and the other person might be right. Humility opens us up to that possibility and allows us to engage in a more deliberative process.

Q: Thank you for your interview, Kyle. Would you like to tell my readers where they can find you on the web and how everyone can buy your book?

A: Online booksellers like Amazon and Barnes and Noble make it easy. You can also purchase the book through the publisher’s website Of course I can always be tracked down on Twitter @ScottKyleA,, through my blog or via email kyle(dot)a(dot)scott(at)Hotmail(dot)com


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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