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Power and Constraint: The Accountable Presidency After 9/11 Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; 1 edition (March 12, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0393081338
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393081336
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #275,373 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Jack Goldsmith is the Henry L. Shattuck Professor of Law at Harvard University. From October 2003 to June 2004 he was assistant attorney general, Office of Legal Counsel. He lives in Newton, Massachusetts.

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Customer Reviews

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What an extremely well argued, researched, and written book.
Stephen Jones
I believe that this is the single "must-read" book in 2012 on the presidency and presidential power and national security.
Kenneth Anderson
Of the endless books on current affairs and politics, this is a must read.
Bernard Lavallee

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Jack Goldsmith has written a superb analysis of the evolution of the heated - overheated - debates over executive power and national security policies in the decade after 9/11. It is particularly striking because, although an academic's academic, Goldsmith shows a remarkable talent for journalism, interviewing a long list of participants in the debates over national security policy, and an ability to create a narrative. This book (like his last book on this topic) is actually readable! The main thesis is that jockeying back and forth over national security law and policy among the various branches of government, as well as outside players such as academics, advocacy groups, and journalists, has created something of a new equilibrium around policy. A decade after 9/11, the situation over law and policy, executive power and reach, is gradually settling.

Here, however, is my question for Goldsmith: Is this equilibrium, this partial reversion to a slightly different mean, actually stable? Have we reached institutional settlement in 2012? Or will things that looked fairly settled and stabilized in 2012 under the Obama administration suddenly look a lot less stable in 2013, if there were, for example, a Romney administration? As advocacy groups continue to call for prosecutions and investigations, either here or abroad, of Bush era officials - Human Rights Watch, for example, in a recent report - in ways that look frankly fringe given the position of the Obama administration, will all that suddenly look more palatable if there were a Republican administration - and Democrats who swallowed hard, but refused to take up real cudgels against "their" administration suddenly realize they no longer have a stake in the "institutional settlement"?

I believe that this is the single "must-read" book in 2012 on the presidency and presidential power and national security.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Bernard Lavallee on March 31, 2012
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
An eye opening book that enlightened me on the both the power inherent in the executive office as well as the constraints built up since 9/11 and as a result of then president Bush's unilateral approach to attacking the terrorist threat. Of the endless books on current affairs and politics, this is a must read. Intelligently written, neutral and well documented it's a must read in order to understand today's politically charged atmosphere.
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5 of 8 people found the following review helpful By sorenlaw on May 21, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Well this should shut a lot of mouths including mine. Remarkable book. I have to believe it for now and throw away (some) of my growing cynicism about the presidency and our government in general. My only hope is this is not a complex conspiracy book from the powers that be,.. I really don't think so. This is a rare book of real substance on the subject. Madison lives on, great.
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James G. Garner on October 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
This is one of the best, most thoughtful books I have read in recent years. The subject is timely and presents a unique analysis that I had not previously considered. Read it on my Amazon Kindle.
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2 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Stephen Jones on April 28, 2012
Format: Hardcover
What an extremely well argued, researched, and written book.

One of the most consistent headlines of the last decade has been the increase in power the President holds in his hands (see the recently published book Drift: The Unmooring of American Military Power by Rachael Maddow, for instance). We are told that the President can hold individuals captive indefinitely, send armed forces to any part of the world, and assassinate American's living abroad, all on a whim. But until this book, we have only been told this single sided story.

Jack Goldsmith does not judge these practices or dispute their existences, rather he shows, with convincing proof, the legitimacy these practices have received from the courts, Congress, and the press, and, most importantly, the limits those legitimizing sources have instituted.

While the President may very well be able to do more than at any time in the history of the US, I am now assured that there are multitudes of checks and limits to hold the President accountable to the laws of our great country. Read this book if nothing more to gain the comfort that if the People want to change the actions and powers of the Presidency, we could. A win for democracy.
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