on December 18, 2013
Published in 2009, Kal Raustiala's book traces the history of territoriality in U.S. law. Surprisingly, the range of constitutional rights has rarely aligned with the extent of U.S. sovereignty -- from the "intraterritoriality" of Native American reservations and colonial holdings to the "extraterritoriality" of the U.S. District Court of China, the executive branch has long tried to maintain maximum flexibility in administering federal holdings.
These precedents led to the Bush administration's decision in 2001 to hold prisoners of the War on Terror at Guantanamo Bay, igniting a firestorm of international criticism. This book, then, represents an important piece of scholasticism -- it not only follows a facinating thread of U.S. legal history, but also explains the rationale behind the GTMO international relations debacle.
Sadly, despite the issue's importance, the Kindle version looks like it was a scanned in using Optical Character Recognition without proofreading. The endnote marks are not hyperlinked, and are sometimes left dangling apart from their preceding sentences. It gives a very amateurish feel to the text.
Second, the book itself is overlong and reads more like a thesis. Long sections are spent explaining what is going to be explained, with explanations followed by summaries of what was explained. It gets to be a little tedious.
Finally, Raustiala assumes the reader has a significant legal background and understands the myriad precedents, which alienates those who (like me) are curious but not legal professionals. I would have liked to learn more about the cited cases without having to pull up Wikipedia three times a chapter.
To summarize, Raustiala has produced a work that is valuable for both its historical and contemporary relevance. I regret it is not more transparent for the casual reader, nor treated with the editorial professionalism it deserves.
on September 19, 2011
Professor Rausiala creates an engaging work that gives the reader both a legal framework of the basis of the law used in various settings, but also the historical and political situations through which these frameworks were created (or some might say, contrived).
He is not shy in pointing out the lack of logic or simple malfeasance, where appropriate, in engaging in some of the legal engagement that America has undertaken when applying it's vision of law offshore.
His skill as a writer makes the reading easy, not a textbook exercise in legalese, and gives insight into a part of Americas extention of power that has not often been discribed.