Signing Their Rights Away

The Fame and Misfortune of the Men Who Signed the United States Constitution

About the Book

An entertaining and essential collection of stories about the surprising and strange fates of the thirty-nine statesmen who created the U.S. Constitution.
Now in paperback with a brand-new cover, this companion volume to Signing Their Lives Away tells the untold stories of the signers of the U.S. Constitution and comes at a time when our constitutional rights are at the forefront of everyone’s minds.

Remember when our elected officials knew how to compromise? Here are short, irreverent, fun, and fact-filled biographies of the 39 men who set aside their differences and signed their names to the U.S. Constitution—the oldest written constitution of any nation in the world. You’ll meet:

• The Signer Who Believed in Aliens
• The Signer Who Was Shot in the Stomach
• The Signer Who Went Bankrupt
• The Peg-Legged Signer
• And many more colorful colonists!

Complete with portraits of every signatory, Signing Their Rights Away provides an entertaining and enlightening narrative for students, history buffs, politicos, and Hamilton fans alike.


“[The authors]…maintain a refreshing reverence for the Constitution itself. Rather than ask readers to believe that an ‘assembly of demigods’ (Jefferson's words) wrote the Constitution, Ms. Kiernan and Mr. D’Agnese challenge the notion that the group that crafted this document of enduring genius was uniquely brilliant or visionary. If this raises the question of how exactly the miracle was accomplished, it should at least give readers some hope for our own seemingly uninspired political era.” —The Wall Street Journal

“This is both educational and entertaining.”—Booklist

“Kiernan and D'Agnese, who also wrote Signing their Lives Away, have provided another volume that should appeal to all political and history buffs.”—McClatchy Newspapers

“This little book is entertaining, easy to read, and above all, informative. It’s a brilliant piece of work and a must-have for any history-buff’s library…”—PoliticusUSA

“An extraordinarily fascinating study of America's lesser-known founding fathers alongside the more well-known ones, Signing Their Rights Away is a welcome and enthusiastically recommended contribution to public and college library shelves.”—Midwest Book Review (Reviewer’s Choice)

“It’s no secret that I love reading history and occasionally a book comes along that provides an unusual insight beyond the standard telling of a given event. Signing Their Rights Away….is a truly fascinating story that puts their achievement in perspective.”—Bookviews

“Kiernan and D’Agnese make both this period and the men who pulled off this incredible achievement exciting and entertaining…This is exceptional historical reporting that is informative, enlightening, and accessible. Anyone with even a remote interest in our rich national history should purchase this highly recommended book.”—Larry Cox, King Features Syndicate

“Entertainingly written.”—School Library Journal, starred review

About the Author

Denise Kiernan

DENISE KIERNAN is a journalist, author, ghost writer and producer.

Since way back in the dark, pre-interweb years of the 20th century, she has written about everything from soccer, food and wine to women's issues, math and atomic bombs. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Village Voice,  Ms., Wired, Discover, Reader's Digest and many other national publications for adults and children. She is an Educational Press Association award winner.

She is the author of the forthcoming book Girls of Atomic City (Touchstone/Simon & Schuster, 2013). Two of Denise's Quirk books with Joseph D'Agnese, Signing Their Lives Away and Signing Their Rights Away, both received starred reviews in School Library Journal. Their latest book for Quirk, Stuff Every American Should Know, is due out this June and will revolutionize Thanksgiving menus and Fourth of July trivia battles worldwide. She and Joe live in North Carolina.

You can visit her official website at, scope out what she's reading on her Goodreads page, and add her on Google+.

Joseph D’Agnese

JOSEPH D’AGNESE is journalist, author, and ghostwriter who has written for a number of publications such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Village Voice, Wired, and Discover. D’Agnese’s works have twice been included in the anthology Best American Science Writing. He’s the author of the children’s picture book Blockhead: The Life of Fibonacci, about the medieval mathematician associated with the famous number pattern found throughout nature.

Joe’s Quirk books with Denise Kiernan, Signing Their Lives Away and Signing Their Rights Away, have received starred reviews and raves from teachers, librarians and history buffs. He and Denise live in North Carolina. Their latest Quirk Book is Stuff Every American Should Know.

Visit Joe at or follow him on Twitter: @JosephDAgnese.

Product Details

  • Hardcover ISBN: 9781594745201
  • Paperback ISBN: 978-1-68369-127-3
  • e-Book ISBN: 9781594745317
  • Page Count: 304
  • Release Date: April 30, 2019