Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.

  • Apple
  • Android
  • Windows Phone
  • Android

To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.

The Challenge: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the Fight over Presidential Power First Edition Edition

5.0 out of 5 stars 5 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0374223205
ISBN-10: 0374223203
Why is ISBN important?
This bar-code number lets you verify that you're getting exactly the right version or edition of a book. The 13-digit and 10-digit formats both work.
Scan an ISBN with your phone
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Buy used
In Stock. Sold by owlsbooks
Condition: Used: Very Good
Comment: Very Good copy, cover and pages show some wear from reading and storage. Binding may have light creases. Lots of life left in these pages. May contain very minimal writing/highlighting or notations.
Access codes and supplements are not guaranteed with used items.
36 Used from $0.01
+ $3.99 shipping
More Buying Choices
24 New from $0.98 36 Used from $0.01 3 Collectible from $9.95
Free Two-Day Shipping for College Students with Prime Student Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student

Battlefield America: The War On The American People by John  W. Whitehead
Books on Limiting Government Reach
Leading up the election season, here are books on the benefits of small government. Learn more | See related books
click to open popover

Special Offers and Product Promotions

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Amazon Best of the Month, August 2008: There have by now been many insider accounts of the Bush Administration and its War on Terror. Jonathan Mahler's The Challenge: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the Fight over Presidential Power, on the other hand, is very much an outsider's account: the story of two lawyers and their attempt to scale the walls of the American government and overturn the system of military commissions set up to try the detainees at Guantanamo Bay. One observer called Hamdan v. Rumsfeld "the most important decision on presidential power and the rule of law, ever," and Mahler's focus on the odd-couple lawyers--the blustery, impulsive Navy JAG who made defending Hamdan his mission and the brilliant and tireless Indian immigrant's son who risked a meteoric career with his obsession with the case--and his ability to communicate the grave constitutional consequences of the case and the often bizarrely circuitous path they must take to reach the Supreme Court make for a thrilling and moving drama of justice, democracy, and the patriotism of challenging your own government. --Tom Nissley


“Mahler’s account of Hamdan’s treatment at Guantanamo Bay makes The Challenge an important book.”—Carol A Sigmond, The Federal Lawyer

“With an engaging writing style and eye to detail, Mr. Mahler…takes the reader through Mr. Hamdan’s evolution from a street urchin to one of a handful of “high value” enemy combatants…If “The Challenge” offers a good account of the making of an implausible warrior jihadi, it provides an excellent account of the making of equally implausible warrior lawyers…“The Challenge” is not just a very readable account of an important case. It is also an intimate account of the lawyers who overcame personal conflicts, animus and flaws to produce a decision for the ages. It is an intriguing tale of how a unique convergence of personalities propelled an unlikely dabab driver from Yemen to international prominence.”—Jonathan Turley, The New York Times

“The work of lawyers for a detainee is brilliantly explored in Jonathan Mahler’s The Challenge: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the Fight over Presidential Power.  But it is much more than a book about law and lawyers.  It tells the story of a captive who gave his name to a great constitutional decision; and it describes the personal struggles of his lawyers, their courage, and their faults.  The result is a work of rare drama.”—Anthony Lewis, New York Review of Books

“Mahler’s fluent account of events is essential reading for students of constitutional law-and anyone concerned with civil rights.”—Kirkus

“[W]hat Mahler chronicles -- the seesaw process of constitutional challenges to the military commissions -- is of more than historical interest: It is part and parcel of all that has transpired in recent weeks and a portent of the future as well.”—Art Winslow, Los Angeles Times

“One recalls the ethically simple Gideon's Trumpet when reading the latest great-case narrative, Jonathan Mahler's The Challenge: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the Fight Over Presidential Power….A riveting read.”—Michael O’Donnell, San Francisco Chronicle

“[Mahler] excels at telling the story of a talented, fractious team coming together for a greater goal: Charles Swift, a naval officer whose passionate commitment to the case scuttled his career and his marriage; Neal Katyal, a brilliant scholar whose arrogance alienated his allies; and Hamdan, a desperate, furious cipher.”—The New Yorker

“I was in the Pentagon on 9-11, and in its aftermath, I witnessed the most remarkable and chilling attempt to consolidate and abuse executive power, circumvent and ignore the rule of law, and reverse engineer due process and the rules of evidence to deny our newest enemies a fair trial. The Challenge is the riveting and very inside story of an unlikely coupling of two lawyers from two very different legal worlds, one military and one academic, who joined forces to restore our jurisprudential values. Jonathan Mahler captures the essence of their personalities and the truly heroic battles that they fought in a way that is both informative and fascinating. Do not get too comfortable though. This struggle—of epic constitutional proportions--continues, and every American who holds freedom dear must be educated about the dangers of executive power run amok. The Challenge is the book that will anchor that education.”   —Donald Guter, retired Admiral and former Judge Advocate General, U.S. Navy; Dean, Duquense Law School

“This is the definitive work on an epic Supreme Court case—and on the human beings behind the headlines.”   —Jeffrey Toobin, author of The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court

“The Challenge is a rare achievement—a book as involving as it is important. The characters (real people, powerfully sketched) and the narrative (gripping as a movie) make Jonathan Mahler’s book impossible to put down. And yet beneath the turning pages there’s a firm spine: a profound meditation on what patriotism means and how durable our Constitution is. The classic American story: upholding the rules, meeting the standard, at high personal cost. This book has the great legal drama of an entertainment—the charge, the defender, the filing-in to the courtroom—but it ends as an inspiration.”   —David Lipsky, author of Absolutely American: Four Years at West Point

“Out of a great Supreme Court case Jonathan Mahler has made a riveting story.  Here are the Guantanamo prisoner who challenged the President, the lawyers, the judges. I could not stop reading.”   —Anthony Lewis, author of Gideon’s Trumpet

"The Challenge is the definitive insider’s account of how a law professor and a military lawyer won a historic Supreme Court case against military commissions established by the Commander in Chief. Jonathan Mahler tells this improbable but important story in a gripping, accessible narrative that reveals both the promise and the limitations of judicial review in the age of terrorism.”   —Jack Goldsmith, Henry L. Shattuck Professor of Law, Harvard law School, and author of The Terror Presidency



New York Times best sellers
Browse the New York Times best sellers in popular categories like Fiction, Nonfiction, Picture Books and more. See more

Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (August 5, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374223203
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374223205
  • Product Dimensions: 6.7 x 1.2 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,877,398 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Related Media

Customer Reviews

5 star
4 star
3 star
2 star
1 star
See all 5 customer reviews
Share your thoughts with other customers

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Here is an astonishing story in which two unlikely and oddly paired attorneys (read heroes) take on the United States government on behalf of a Yemeni citizen detained at Guantanamo. Neither Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, the navy lawyer assigned to the case, nor Neal Katyal, the Georgetown law professor who volunteered to help, could have imagined where the case would take them nor what it would require of their careers, family, and personal well being. But the story of what they did, how they did it, what it took, who helped, and how it all came out is as amazing as it is important, resulting in one of the most significant legal decisions of the post 9/11 era, the Supreme Court's ruling on Hamdan Against Rumsfeld. Jonathan Mahler relates the tangled and extraordinarily complex sequence of events and legal maneuvers with such mastery of the material, you have to believe he had a degree in law was on hand for every conversation, discussion, and encounter. The Challenge is a gratifying David and Goliath story, but its real worth lies in the issues of justice and constitutionality which this case brings to the fore and which determine whether anyone will receive the justice presumably guaranteed by our constitution and international law.
Comment 22 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
Mr. Mahler has researched a griping courtroom drama in the tradition of "A Few Good Men" where the murder charges have been replaced by a constitutional crisis. Does terrorists have any rights under the Constitution or can they be have forever without a trial? The book could have used some tighter editing, but otherwise is quite readable and clear as to the legal issues and maneuverings. Following the case as it slowly makes it way to the Supreme Court, the author illustrates the lives of the lawyers involved and the costs that they paid to win a victory before the Roberts court to have a trial. As A coda, the newspapers reported this week that the defendent was acquitted of the serious charges and will be released in six months.
Comment 15 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
First, the grueling nature preparing for what became arguably the most important constitutional law ruling by the Supreme Court in 30 years is incredible.

Take a constitutional law prof at Georgetown with a terminally ill father, a card-carrying-member of the ACLU Navy lawyer with ADD, and top legal eagles from white-shoe law firms pitching in pro bono work and getting frustrated at not being heard out enough in briefs, and you get some idea of the potential for conflict - potential that became actuality at times.

But yet, everybody held together, above all Prof. Neal Katyal and Lt. Com. Charles Swift.

However, the grind took its toll on Swift, with an eventual divorce and his Naval promotion path blocked.

And, continued confinement in Guantanamo continues to take its toll on Salim Hamdan.

In a brief wrap-up in that vein, Mahler talks about the post-Hamdan legal world, especicially the Military Commissions Act and the Boumediene case.

If you want a legal thriller that's real-life, not fiction, and about life and death constitutional issues, this is a must read.
Comment 8 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover
As one who has followed the Supreme Court detainee cases concerning Hamdi, Rasul, Hamdan, and Boumediene, I was pleased to obtain this book, which contains background on the Hamdan case. The Hamdan case centered around the legality of military commissions as conceived and set up by the Bush Administration (Cheney and Addington). At bottom, the issue is one of Presidential power and how far the President can go unilaterally during times of war without the intervention of the Legislative and Judicial branches. I found that in addition to providing some generalized legal background, this book lends a human perspective on what was going on as a result of the government's legal response to 9/11.

Salim Hamdan grew up in a poor, backward farming region of Yemen, received something like a fourth grade education, and was orphaned by the time he was eleven. Adrift at a young age in a place that celebrated religious martyrdom, he fell under the spell of a radical jihadist and eventually made his way during the 90s to Afghanistan where he became employed as Osama bin Laden's driver and bodyguard. After 9/11 he was captured by the Northern Alliance and turned over to the U.S. for a ransom. After the order was signed by Bush to set up the military commissions, Hamdan was one of the first to be charged.

The main part of the story concerns the heroic efforts of especially two lawyers, law professor Neal Katyal and Charles Swift of the JAG corps, in taking up Hamdan's case and eventually presenting it before the Supreme Court. Katyal became the driving force. He had been a hawk when working in the Clinton Administration concerning running down al Qaeda and had later supported the Patriot Act, but he had serious qualms about giving the President a blank check in setting up military commissions.
Read more ›
Comment 3 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I've read several negative reviews for this book that insinuate that only legal and political geeks will find it "a thriller", and I may be either or both, but I was absolutely thrilled by it. (I'm not the only one by the way, I hear Clooney and Damon are making a film version.) Some reviewers I've read have been unable to get past their political ideologies and trash the book for portraying Hamdan (bin Laden's driver) sympathetically. But I would argue that if one truly believes in basic human rights; that all people are entitled to the basics of due process (after all there is a real possibility that we've incarcerated the wrong guy, despite right-wing gov't bashers who seem to think the gov't ONLY works perfectly when rounding up "terrorists") and that military and civilian leaders with the know-how and guts to try and stop the ruthless abuse of power by almost every branch and level of our gov't. must be commended for engaging in such a quixotic and unpopular battle, than you WILL be thrilled by this book, because you realize they are protecting all of us through their ridiculously hard work, with 1/16 of the press coverage Paris Hilton gets for a night out on the town.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
Report abuse