RaveThe Washington PostEnter the handwritten diary of Mohamedou Ould Slahi, a Guantanamo detainee...a fluent, engaging and at times eloquent writer, even in his fourth language, English ... For those already convinced by the grim details contained in the recent Senate Intelligence Committee report about the CIA’s treatment of detainees, it is important to emphasize that Slahi’s book adds materially to what that report revealed ... Most important, and unlike the Senate report, Slahi’s book offers a first-person account of the experience of torture. For that reason alone, the book is necessary reading for those seeking to understand the dangers that Guantanamo’s continued existence poses to Americans in the world. At the same time, all diary readers must grapple with the claustrophobic nature of the genre.
David A. Kaplan
MixedThe Washington PostIn key respects, Kaplan’s portrayal of the court’s role conflicts with the view of many scholars of the court and the Constitution ... He provides minor anecdotes intended to reveal the healthy egos of the men and women on the current court. Many of the stories of lunchtime chats among the justices and their clerks are too slight to convey meaningful insights ... the story Kaplan presents here—that a \'runaway court\' has wrongly seized power from elected legislatures and thereby \'squandered its institutional capital\'—is easier to argue than to prove ... It is certainly possible to criticize the outcomes in [certain] cases and the logic of the opinions the justices produced. But those complaints are different from Kaplan’s claim that the court acted in a constitutionally illegitimate way in engaging the cases at all. Equally problematic, it is far from clear that public perception of the court has suffered over time because of its decisions, as Kaplan contends.
Oona A. Hathaway and Scott J. Shapiro
PositiveThe Washington PostAs a legal history, the book is indispensable. It traces the intellectual origins of today’s international legal order to the much-maligned Paris peace pact of 1928 ... Among the greatest strengths of The Internationalists is the authors’ acute attention to the role of individual thinkers, some long overlooked, and to the impact of happenstance — the ways, for instance, an idealist’s memo could land in a pragmatist’s hands ... It is a shame the authors don’t focus as strongly on personalities in the book’s chapters on how the law changed behavior. Instead, they turn their attention to demonstrating statistically that interstate wars resulting in lasting territorial conquest became dramatically less significant after the 1928 peace pact...Yet even accepting the finding that the nature of land claims changed after 1928, it remains far from clear that this shift in state behavior came about in some measure because of the prewar revolution in law the authors so ably describe ... The Internationalists provides a great service in illustrating the ways in which law can speak powerfully to individual decision-makers. An even greater service would be to show us more about what kind of decision-maker it takes to listen.