MixedLos Angeles Review of Books... despite his 49 years reporting on Washington politics, 19 previous books, and two Pulitzer Prizes, Woodward comes off...as surprisingly naïve ... These are painful chapters to read that will elicit rage in many readers. The willful blindness from which [administration officials] each suffered in accepting Trump’s appointments, and their failure to blow the whistle once they witnessed firsthand the damage Trump was causing our country, entitles each to his own chapter when Profiles in Complicity is written ... \'Even people who believe in him somehow believe in him without believing what he says.\' That is the baffling reality of Trump’s presidency ... Woodward offers no analysis here, so readers are left to dwell on the tragedy of it all ... Woodward, a daily newspaper reporter at heart, moves from one story to the next, spending little or no time offering any incisive analysis of these enablers ... Rage provides additional firsthand evidence that since taking office Trump has posed a \'clear and present danger\' to the people of the United States and beyond ... Judging Rage on its own terms, the book is an important contribution to documenting the Trump presidency. Woodward is adept at getting people to trust him and talk on the record, including Trump himself.
RaveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksThe dramatic, turbulent, colorful, controversial, and, in many cases, little-known story of how the ACLU responded to the urgent need to defend the Constitution and how it has persisted in that mission for the last hundred years is told in an engaging new book by Ellis Cose ... Cose disclaims any intention of writing \'the definitive story of the ACLU,\' although alongside Samuel Walker’s magnificent In Defense of American Liberties: A History of the ACLU (1990), he comes very close ... Cose does not attempt to write a \'litigation history of the ACLU.\' Instead, by combining a discussion of some of the organization’s most significant court battles with an account of some of its activism in the streets and halls of power, he delivers a fascinating chronicle of one of the most important organizations in the history of the United States. To his credit (and for the benefit of his readers), he does not ignore episodes in the ACLU’s long history when it lost its way, succumbing to the very majoritarian impulses to conform and obey, which most of the time it admirably resisted ... Early on, Cose expresses the hope that his book will help \'to make clear why the defense of civil liberties is the responsibility of all Americans — not just of an organization with civil liberties in its name.\' Cose has achieved his goal. The rest of us need to take that responsibility very seriously.
Ed. by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman
RaveLos Angeles Review of Books... an engaging and informative foreword by David Cole...offers a good summary of the impressive array of momentous victories the ACLU has achieved, as discussed in these pages ... Readers will find it refreshing to read a collection of essays about court decisions written mostly by novelists. Far be it for me to complain about the way lawyers write, but it is certainly welcome to consider the impact and relevancy of important judicial decisions outside the strict boundaries of legal and constitutional interpretation and instead through the lens of lived experiences, full of struggle, emotion, fear, resilience, hope, and triumph ... giv[es] some of the most important court decisions of the last 100 years a human dimension and added relevance and urgency. The writers achieve this by illuminating the personal stories behind the legal decisions and by connecting their own lives to the legal issues at stake.
P. E Moskowitz
MixedLos Angeles Review of BooksThis book does not present a case against free speech. The title smacks of an editor’s calculated decision to choose an eye-catching title rather than reflect the author’s project ... an intriguing start, and Moskowitz gets credit for conducting extensive interviews with a wide array of people involved in free speech controversies ... These accounts are engaging and make the abstract debates over free speech far more personal and immediate. But Moskowitz betrays an appalling ignorance of the field into which they are venturing ... Very few...seminal works [on free speech] are cited in the book’s text or footnotes. Instead, Moskowitz offers their own brief history of the First Amendment. It is more or less fine until they selectively describe the history of the ACLU, skewing it to serve their pre-conceived narrative ... summary is intended to advance Moskowitz’s pessimistic theme...but unfortunately does a disservice to both the heroic people throughout American history who have tenaciously fought to exercise their right to free speech ... a skewed, depressing, hopeless, and misleading account of the history of the brave men and women who have struggled to breathe life into the words of the First Amendment.
Robert S. Mueller
PositiveThe Los Angeles Review of BooksIt is one of the most important documents in the history of the American presidency. It is breathtaking in its detail, spread over 448 pages with 2,381 footnotes. It is also highly readable for layperson and lawyer alike. Indeed, portions read like a vivid political thriller ... The report includes the most concise explanation available to the public of how the Russians interfered in the 2016 election ... It deserves to be read by everyone who cares about the United States and the future of our democratic institutions ... Unfortunately, although worth reading, the commentaries in both publications are rather short and superficial, and large portions appear to have been written prior to the release of the report [by Skyhorse and Scribner] ... The need for \'instant\' print publication of reports like this no longer exists. But the need for in-depth analysis remains. It would have been a greater public service had the commentators been given more time to dig deeper into the report and produce more comprehensive analyses. Perhaps others will undertake this important task.
RaveThe Los Angeles Review of Books... Bharara’s reflections on his seven and a half years in charge of the SDNY have taken on added importance ... he has transformed what early in his tenure he used as a guide to new and idealistic prosecutors into a \'guide to justice generally, not only for practitioners, but for real people who strive and struggle in their homes and offices to be fair and just\'...And he succeeds admirably ... it is such a refreshing antidote to spend some time with a man who cares deeply about these very principles and is eager to share his experiences which teach valuable lessons about justice, fairness, and good behavior ... Although readers may be disappointed that he spends so little time addressing Trump by name, Bharara is clearly worried that the \'rule of law and faith in the rule of law, the state of judicial and prosecutorial independence, the meaning and primacy of truth — all are in question and under fire in numerous ways\' ... Although he structures the book around the four stages of a criminal prosecution — Inquiry, Accusation, Judgment, and Punishment — it is about far more than the legal system; it is \'about integrity, leadership, decision making, and moral reasoning\' ... It is invigorating to see a bright, accomplished, highly principled lawyer condemn Trump’s appalling racist remarks. True to his message, Bharara does it in a measured and civil manner, which serves another of his lessons: always maintain your credibility ... a compelling book, serious and funny, engaging and shocking. Fortunately, it is free of legal jargon and often reads like a gripping crime novel.
James B Comey
MixedThe Los Angeles Review of BooksBy and large, pundits and book reviewers have overlooked Comey’s most explosive revelations involving illegal conduct in the White House ... what is really important about his book is that we have a senior official in the Bush administration documenting how the government conducted illegal surveillance on US citizens and engaged in illegal torture (including waterboarding of detainees) in various \'black sites\' around the world ... Comey frames his entire book as a plea for \'ethical leadership\' based on the values of \'truth, integrity, and respect for others,\' without which the justice system begins to decay. Yet he never addresses why neither he nor anyone else has ever used their authority to hold those who engaged in illegal surveillance and torture fully accountable ... Of course, A Higher Loyalty is best known for Comey’s famous confrontations with President Trump ... Comey describes these incidents in an engaging and cinematic style. His reporting is filled with vivid details and direct quotes attributed to both Trump and himself which make these accounts convincing and credible. But all the attention devoted to these shiny objects, should not obscure the rest of Comey’s book. Unintentionally, A Higher Loyalty teaches more about \'ethical leadership\' by studying not what Comey has done in his career but by what he has failed to do. Not only has our government failed to hold any officials accountable for torture and illegal surveillance, but those very officials have been rewarded with high positions, book deals, prominent speaking tours, and, most recently, the May 17 confirmation of Gina Haspel as director of the CIA.
RaveThe Los Angeles Review of Books...a rare look at the grueling toll a national presidential election campaign can take on the journalists whose job it is to cover the daily — sometimes hourly — developments reported in our voracious 24-hour news cycle … Tur has written a very personal, funny, and candid memoir that not only reveals a lot about a courageous TV reporter, but also helps us better understand how Trump got elected … Tur structures her book with a series of fast-paced alternating chapters set in various campaign events and encounters juxtaposed with hour-by-hour accounts of election night. The format is slightly jarring at first, but it quickly begins to make sense as the book takes on a cinematic quality, combining entertaining flashbacks with the hours leading to the foreboding climax we all know is coming.
Melvin I. Urofsky
PositiveLos Angeles Review of BooksUrofsky has made a significant contribution to our understanding of the Supreme Court and the Constitution.