Sunday, October 12, 2014

Sunday Book Roundup

John Paul Stevens has a review in the latest issue of The New York Review, "Law Without History?" that examines Robert A. Katzmann's Judging Statutes (Oxford University Press). 
"In the introduction to his book Katzmann notes “the simple reality” that an enormous increase in the number of new statutes has led to a corresponding increase in the number of judicial decisions in which federal courts are called upon to interpret them as they apply in one situation or another. Now a substantial majority of the Supreme Court’s caseload involves statutory construction. And of course the work of lower federal court judges, administrative agencies, and practicing lawyers increasingly involves the interpretation of federal statutes. His topic is unquestionably important, and he has shed new light on the ongoing debate between “purposivists” and “textualists.”"
This week Breaking In: The Rise of Sonia Sotomayor (Farrar, Straus & Giroux) by Joan Biskupic is reviewed in The New York Times.

Nick Bunker's An Empire on the Edge: How Britain Came to Fight America (Knopf) is reviewed in the Washington Independent Review of Books.
"Everything that most of us know about the American Revolution comes from American historians because, as the old adage says, history is written by the winners. Now hear from an eloquent spokesman for the losers: Nick Bunker is a British writer who searches for the roots of the Revolution in the politics and economics of his homeland. He looks back to see “two overlapping empires,” political and commercial. In Bunker’s harsh and well-documented opinion, British politicians “valued their commercial empire more highly than the flags they had planted on the map.”"
The Washington Post has a review of Racial Reckoning: Prosecuting America's Civil Rights Murders (Harvard University Press) by Renee Romano.

Jonathan Eig's The Birth of the Pill: How Four Crusaders Reinvented Sex and Launched a Revolution (Norton) has been reviewed by Ann Friedman in The New Republic and reviewed by Irin Carmon for The New York Times:
"For much of the first half of the 20th century, women approached Margaret Sanger with a plea: “Do tell me the secret.” They wrote letters, too: “Doctors are men and have not had a baby so they have no pitty [sic] for a poor sick mother.” But she had no secret to not getting pregnant when you didn’t want to. By Sanger’s time, modern medicine had improved upon the crocodile dung ancient Egyptians used as vaginal plugs and the lemon half Casanova recommended as a cervical cap — but not by much. Diaphragms were faulty and ill-used. And condoms depended on men’s will, at a time when a doctor could advise a woman to sleep on her roof to avoid her husband’s advances."

There is a Q&A with Katha Pollitt about her book PRO: Reclaiming Abortion Rights (Picador) in the LA Times, and the book is also reviewed in The New York Times.
"“I never had an abortion, but my mother did. She didn’t tell me about it, but from what I pieced together after her death from a line in her F.B.I. file, which my father, the old radical, had requested along with his own, it was in 1960, so like almost all abortions back then, it was illegal.”
Thus begins “Pro,” the abortion rights manifesto by the Nation columnist, poet and red diaper baby Katha Pollitt. While parents with F.B.I. files may be exotic, her departure point is that abortion was and is not. Like six out of 10 women who get abortions today, Pollitt’s mom was already a mother when she chose to abort. Why didn’t she carry this pregnancy to term? How far along was she? Why didn’t she tell her husband? Was her practitioner good? Did a friend go with her? Pollitt doesn’t know."