Customer Reviews


5 Reviews
5 star:
 (4)
4 star:    (0)
3 star:
 (1)
2 star:    (0)
1 star:    (0)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favorable review
The most helpful critical review


2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A riveting legal thriller
In this extensively researched book, Jonathan Mahler tells the gripping and astonishing story of the knotty sequence of events leading to an historic Supreme Court trial. He takes us into the personal lives of two young lawyers from very different backgrounds - one an academic and the other a navy JAG attorney - who come together (with the help of some white-shoe firms)...
Published on September 16, 2009 by Gillian A

versus
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Vanity Fair Guide to Constitutional Litigation
"The Challenge" is the story of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, one of the landmark Constitutional cases of our time. The case began when Hamdan, a Yemeni jihadist incarcerated at Guantanamo, was accused of war crimes and set for trial before a military commission. Expected to plead guilty, Hamdan instead challenged the legality of the commissions, arguing that they had been set up...
Published on November 1, 2012 by not me


Most Helpful First | Newest First

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A riveting legal thriller, September 16, 2009
In this extensively researched book, Jonathan Mahler tells the gripping and astonishing story of the knotty sequence of events leading to an historic Supreme Court trial. He takes us into the personal lives of two young lawyers from very different backgrounds - one an academic and the other a navy JAG attorney - who come together (with the help of some white-shoe firms) in the defense of a 5'6", 130 pound, Yemini detainee in Guantanamo. It is a fascinating tale, both from the legal aspect and the impact the events had on the personal and professional lives of those involved. It is, at times, impossible to put down.
The book essentially ends with the dramatic 5-3 win in the Supreme Court. However, the final chapter tells of the subsequent trial in Bush's Military Commission, its conclusion and the defendant's final repatriation.
Recently, (I have read) the film rights were bought by George Clooney.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Vanity Fair Guide to Constitutional Litigation, November 1, 2012
By 
"The Challenge" is the story of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, one of the landmark Constitutional cases of our time. The case began when Hamdan, a Yemeni jihadist incarcerated at Guantanamo, was accused of war crimes and set for trial before a military commission. Expected to plead guilty, Hamdan instead challenged the legality of the commissions, arguing that they had been set up in violation of the Constitution and international law. He was represented by a Navy lawyer and a law prof at Georgetown, who ended up winning the case -- sort of -- in the Supreme Court.

The book is non-fiction, but leans heavily on novelistic devices such as reconstructed dialogue, access to the inner lives of characters, and atmospheric details that help readers visualize the action. The author had great materials to work with -- terrorism, official lawlessness, crusading lawyers, and a satisfying outcome -- so it's no surprise that his book is a pageturner. I raced through it in just a few days, loving every page of it.

That said, I was struck by the absence of scholarly apparatus (such as footnotes) or respect for journalistic conventions (such as balance). And I was very disappointed that the author wrote an entire book about the most important Presidential war powers case since Youngstown Steel without trying to unpack the law at the heart of the litigation. "The Challenge" treats its legal material as background scenery -- including the Geneva Conventions, the war powers clause, the Habeas Corpus Act, and the Hamdan opinion itself. Instead, the book's focus is relentlessly on the lawyers -- on their rivalries, their neuroses, their tactical disagreements, their family lives, their punishing workloads, and so on, in elaborate cinematic detail. Unfortunately, it isn't possible to learn about the law without diving -- or at least dipping one's toe -- into the relevant legal texts. "The Challenge" doesn't even try to do so. It reminded me more of a movie about lawyers than a book about the law.

Verdict: Jonathan Mahler is no Anthony Lewis, and "The Challenge" is no "Gideon's Trumpet." Lawyers may love the way "The Challenge" makes legal practice seem dramatic (it ain't), but non-lawyers hoping to learn something about the Constitution or the law of war will be disappointed. I respectfully dissent from the other Amazon reviews.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The buck stops here, March 1, 2010
By 
FanteFan (Pasadena, CA United States) - See all my reviews
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
A fascinating tale of political and legal maeuvering that leads to a landmark Supreme Court ruling. You know a non-fiction writer has done his/her job when you forget you're reading a factual, not fictional account. Mahler is thorough but fair and never let's the story bog down in minutiae. It's a thoroughly satisfying read.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars A True Defense of American Values, September 18, 2010
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This book presents a compelling account of how the American justice system addresses and determines the rule of law, and it tells this story by laying out the details in an informative and entertaining description of the events and persons that come together to ask a question that has been asked again and again since the United States Constitution was first written and adopted. The question has three parts: who writes the law, who administers the law, and who reviews it to ensure it remains true to U.S. Constitutional requirements.

The author is a journalist and honors the objective standards of his profession.

While many of the actions taken by various persons in authority while America has been tied up in the so called "War on Terror" have given many the cause to cringe and question motivations and effectiveness of those actions, the telling of this story helps to remind us why our law and our citizens make being American something to be proud of when our process lives up to our duty to both. Although being a lawyer might enhance the reading, a law degree is not required to understand it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5.0 out of 5 stars In the tradition of Anthony Lewis's Gideon's Trumpet, September 26, 2009
By 
C. I. McCabe (Philadelphia, PA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This book tells the behind the scenes story of the making of the landmark Hamdan v. Rumsfeld Supreme Court decision. I couldn't put it down, and highly recommend it.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


Most Helpful First | Newest First

Details

Search these reviews only
Send us feedback How can we make Amazon Customer Reviews better for you? Let us know here.