Sunday, October 7, 2012

Rehnquist, the Fourth Amendment, Government Secrets, and More: This Week in the Book Pages

This week, TNR: The Book has a review by Eric Posner of The Partisan: The Life of William Rehnquist by John A. Jenkins (PublicAffairs).  Posner writes:
THE PARTISAN IS the first full biography of William Rehnquist, who was an associate justice of the Supreme Court from 1972 to 1986, and chief justice from 1986 to his death in 2005. Rehnquist was one of the more conservative members of the Court, and had many detractors. Jenkins too does not like Rehnquist’s performance on the Court, but his objection amounts to little more than the complaint that Rehnquist decided cases differently from the way Jenkins would have decided them, which leads to the forensic task of sifting through Rehnquist’s life for an explanation as to how he could have gone so far astray.
Read on, here.

For more on the constitution this week, TNR: The Book also has a review of Stephen J. Schulhofer's More Essential Than Ever: The Fourth Amendment in the Twenty First Century (Oxford) ("a concise and engaging survey of Fourth Amendment law").  And in the Washington Post, Ken Gormley reviews Akhil Reed Amar's America's Unwritten Constitution: The Precedents and Principles We Live By (Basic).  According to Gormleyh, "in “America’s Unwritten Constitution,” Akhil Reed Amar aims high and has produced a masterful, readable book that constitutes one of the best, most creative treatments of the U.S. Constitution in decades."

For several books on secrets of various kinds in the U.S. government: The LA Times (here) and the Washington Post (here) have reviews of Evan Thomas's Ike's Bluff: President Eisenhower's Secret Battle to Save the World (Little, Brown) on, as Scott Martelle writes, Eisenhower's "handling of the itchy fingers on the nuclear trigger."  The New York Times has Matt Taibbi's review of Seth Rosenfeld's Subversives: The FBI's War on Student Radicals, and Reagan's Rise to Power (Straus & Giroux), on the FBI's surveillance program of the Berkeley campus in the 1960s, and  a review of Kurt Eichenwald's 500 Days: Secrets and Lies in the Terror Wars (Touchstone) on the Bush administration after 9/11.

Other reviews of interest this week include a review of three books on railroads in American history at the Wall Street Journal, and a review of Tori Hogan's Beyond Good Intentions: A Journey into the Realities of International Aid (Seal).  And at TNR: The Book, Samuel Helfont reviews Tariq Ramadan's Islam and the Arab Awakening (Oxford)