Category Archives: Book Reviews

A Knowledgeable Insider Warns of the Challenges in Shaping Counterterrorism Policies

Reviewing Skating on Stilts: Why We Aren’t Stopping Tomorrow’s Terrorism by Stewart A. Baker

“Stewart Baker has written an enthralling, yet alarming, account of the difficult road we as country have traveled since 9/11.1 Part memoir of a veteran senior government official, part lesson in interdepartmental infighting and bureaucratic power games, part philosophical musing on technology’s benefits and potential costs, and part vigorous advocacy enlivened by saucy humor and snappy prose, Baker’s book summons us to think hard about how new technologies – air travel, computer functionality, biotechnology – jeopardize our lives and our way of life even as they also promise to brighten our futures.”

Foreign Affairs and Separation of Powers in the Twenty-First Century

Reviewing The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs After 9/11, by John Yoo

John Yoo is nothing if not controversial. During his tenure at the Department of Justice’s Office of Legal Counsel (OLC), he became widely known for, among other things, drafting the Administration’s legal justification for the use of aggressive interrogation techniques.1 His prior academic writing also frequently staked out bold positions supporting expansive interpretations of executive power in the realm of foreign affairs. Yoo’s recent book, The Powers of War and Peace: The Constitution and Foreign Affairs After 9/11, amplifies many of the themes of his earlier work in academia. In it, he addresses two fundamental aspects of foreign policy making, the war power and the treaty power, each of which he analyzes from a decidedly revisionist perspective.

Of Speech, Politics, and Circular History

Reviewing Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime, From the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism, by Geoffrey R. Stone

Geoffrey Stone’s most recent contribution to our understanding of the First Amendment is at once important, current, and fatalistic. It is important in that it meticulously chronicles the ways in which wartime American governments have trampled free speech rights. For instance, when dealing with the Sedition Act of 1798, Stone deftly introduces the complicated politics and personalities of the time, explaining the developing system of political parties, the expanding feud between John Adams (leading the Federalists) and Thomas Jefferson (leading the Republicans), and the myriad influences on the young United States generated by the French Revolution and the associated war between England and France.