Americans have debated the Constitution since the day its was signed, but rarely in its 223-year history have so many disagreed so fiercely about so much. Everywhere there seems to be debate about the Constitution's meaning and message. The Tea Party, with its almost fanatical focus on the founding document, contends that its primary purpose is to restrain the federal government-but does it really say that? Among scholars, some believe the Constitution should be interpreted exactly as the framers wrote it, while others analyze the text just as closely to find the elasticity they believe the framers had in mind. But how could the founding fathers know about the world today, with DNA, sexting, airplanes, TV, Medicare, computers and Lady Gaga? In this probing and accessible book, TIME's editors bring the founding document to life, showing how it was written in a spirit of change and revolution and turbulence. With an introduction by one of America's top jurists, an essay byTIME managing editor Richard Stengel (former president of the National Constitution Center), and the full text of the 8,000-word Constitution annotated to show its most controversial passages and little-known quirks, TIME's compact volume will be an indispensable guide for the well-informed citizen.