A law book recommendation: A Just Cause: The Impeachment and Removal of Governor Rod Blagojevich by Bernard Sieracki

A critic review (source Washington Times) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2ayqDoU.
…Mr. Sieracki’s narrative, an account rich in character studies of the major political players like Speaker of the House Michael Madigan, arguably the most powerful politician in Illinois.
Book description from Google Books:
During the predawn hours of December 9, 2008, an FBI team swarmed the home of Illinois governor Rod Blagojevich and took him away in handcuffs. The shocking arrest, based on allegations of corruption and extortion, launched a chain of political events never before seen in Illinois. In A Just Cause, Bernard H. Sieracki delivers a dynamic firsthand account of this eight-week political crisis, beginning with Blagojevich’s arrest, continuing through his impeachment and trial, and culminating in his conviction and removal from office. Drawing on his own eyewitness observations of the hearings and trial, the comments of interviewees, trial transcripts, and knowledge gained from decades of work with the Illinois legislature, Sieracki tells the compelling story of the first impeachment and removal from office of an Illinois governor, while providing a close look at the people involved. A Just Cause depicts Blagojevich as a master of political gamesmanship, a circus ringmaster driven by personal ambition and obsessed with private gain. Sieracki examines in depth the governor’s unethical behavior while in office, detailing a litany of partisan and personal hostilities that spanned years. He thoroughly covers the events leading to Blagojevich’s downfall and the reactions of the governor’s cohorts. The author discusses the numerous allegations against Blagojevich, including attempts to “sell” appointments, jobs, and contracts in exchange for financial contributions. Sieracki then exhaustively recounts Blagojevich’s senate trial and the governor’s removal from office. This engrossing volume is both a richly detailed case study of the American checks-and-balances system and an eyewitness account of unprecedented events. It will appeal to anyone interested in the stunning, true tale of a state upholding the maxim “The welfare of the people is the supreme law.” 
The book is rated 3.33/5 at goodreads.com, from 3 ratings. See 1 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2ayqHVO.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2sHQCo2.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A law book recommendation: Enough Said: What’s Gone Wrong with the Language of Politics? by Mark Thompson

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2eyFNNl.
I don’t think this book will change the continuing debates about “bias” and “objectivity,” the separation of the public into distinct fact universes…But it offers many instructive allusions, useful judgments and important refinements on these themes…
Book description from Google Books:
There’s a crisis of trust in politics across the western world. Public anger is rising and faith in conventional political leaders and parties is falling. Anti-politics, and the anti-politicians, have arrived. In Enough Said, President and CEO of The New York Times Company Mark Thompson argues that one of the most significant causes of the crisis is the way our public language has changed. Enough Said tells the story of how we got from the language of FDR and Churchill to that of Donald Trump. It forensically examines the public language we’ve been left with: compressed, immediate, sometimes brilliantly impactful, but robbed of most of its explanatory power. It studies the rhetoric of western leaders from Reagan and Thatcher to Berlesconi, Blair, and today’s political elites on both sides of the Atlantic. And it charts how a changing public language has interacted with real world events – Iraq, the financial crash, the UK’s surprising Brexit from the EU, immigration – and led to a mutual breakdown of trust between politicians and journalists, to leave ordinary citizens suspicious, bitter, and increasingly unwilling to believe anybody. Drawing from classical as well as contemporary examples and ranging across politics, business, science, technology, and the arts, Enough Said is a smart and shrewd look at the erosion of language by an author uniquely placed to measure its consequences.
The book is rated 3.97/5 at goodreads.com, from 107 ratings. See 23 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2eyHdrp.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2sVIT5K.

A law book recommendation: The Dream of Enlightenment: The Rise of Modern Philosophy by Anthony Gottlieb

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2wIHVe5.
This last remark looks like a rather odd verdict on a philosopher, but it makes sense in the context of the book, and of course Gottlieb is not denying Descartes’s immense influence.
Book description from Google Books:
Western philosophy is now two and a half millennia old, but much of it came in just two staccato bursts, each lasting only about 150 years. In his landmark survey of Western philosophy from the Greeks to the Renaissance, The Dream of Reason, Anthony Gottlieb documented the first burst, which came in the Athens of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Now, in his sequel, The Dream of Enlightenment, Gottlieb expertly navigates a second great explosion of thought, taking us to northern Europe in the wake of its wars of religion and the rise of Galilean science. In a relatively short period–from the early 1640s to the eve of the French Revolution–Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Leibniz, and Hume all made their mark. The Dream of Enlightenment tells their story and that of the birth of modern philosophy.As Gottlieb explains, all these men were amateurs: none had much to do with any university. They tried to fathom the implications of the new science and of religious upheaval, which led them to question traditional teachings and attitudes. What does the advance of science entail for our understanding of ourselves and for our ideas of God? How should a government deal with religious diversity–and what, actually, is government for? Such questions remain our questions, which is why Descartes, Hobbes, and the others are still pondered today.Yet it is because we still want to hear them that we can easily get these philosophers wrong. It is tempting to think they speak our language and live in our world; but to understand them properly, we must step back into their shoes. Gottlieb puts readers in the minds of these frequently misinterpreted figures, elucidating the history of their times and the development of scientific ideas while engagingly explaining their arguments and assessing their legacy in lively prose.With chapters focusing on Descartes, Hobbes, Spinoza, Locke, Pierre Bayle, Leibniz, Hume, Rousseau, and Voltaire–and many walk-on parts–The Dream of Enlightenment creates a sweeping account of what the Enlightenment amounted to, and why we are still in its debt.
The book is rated 4.08/5 at goodreads.com, from 278 ratings. See 38 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2xq0iIB.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2xpPSZs.

A law book recommendation: Civil Wars: A History in Ideas by David Armitage

A critic review (source The Economist) can be read at: http://econ.st/2uA8RRj.
The meaning of civil war, as Mr Armitage shows, is as messy and multifaceted as the conflict it describes. His book offers an illuminating guide through the 2,000-year muddle and does a good job of filling a conspicuous void in the literature of conflict.
Book description from Google Books:
A highly original history, tracing the least understood and most intractable form of organized human aggression from Ancient Rome through the centuries to the present day. We think we know civil war when we see it. Yet ideas of what it is, and what it isn’t, have a long and contested history, from its fraught origins in republican Rome to debates in early modern Europe to our present day. Defining the term is acutely political, for ideas about what makes a war “civil” often depend on whether one is a ruler or a rebel, victor or vanquished, sufferer or outsider. Calling a conflict a civil war can shape its outcome by determining whether outside powers choose to get involved or stand aside: from the American Revolution to the war in Iraq, pivotal decisions have depended on such shifts of perspective. The age of civil war in the West may be over, but elsewhere in the last two decades it has exploded–from the Balkans to Rwanda, Burundi, Somalia, and Sri Lanka, and most recently Syria. And the language of civil war has burgeoned as democratic politics has become more violently fought. This book’s unique perspective on the roots and dynamics of civil war, and on its shaping force in our conflict-ridden world, will be essential to the ongoing effort to grapple with this seemingly interminable problem.
The book is rated 3.36/5 at goodreads.com, from 14 ratings. See 2 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2uA8VAx.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2uzIU4d.

A law book recommendation: Urban Guerrilla: The Wild, Strange Saga of Patty Hearst and the Symbionese Liberation Army by Jeffrey Toobin

A critic review (source NY Journal of Books) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2soARCf.
Overall, Jeffrey Toobin’s American Heiress is an informative, compelling, and insightful summer read. A thrill ride that will mesmerize anyone who is fascinated with the social and political complexities of the 1970s, legal history, American crime, or anything related to Patty Hearst.
Book description from Google Books:
From New Yorker staff writer and bestselling author of The Nine and The Run of His Life: The People v. O. J. Simpson, the definitive account of the kidnapping and trial that defined an insane era in American history On February 4, 1974, Patty Hearst, a sophomore in college and heiress to the Hearst family fortune, was kidnapped by a ragtag group of self-styled revolutionaries calling itself the Symbionese Liberation Army. The already sensational story took the first of many incredible twists on April 3, when the group released a tape of Patty saying she had joined the SLA and had adopted the nom de guerre “Tania.” The weird turns of the tale are truly astonishing–the Hearst family trying to secure Patty’s release by feeding all the people of Oakland and San Francisco for free; the bank security cameras capturing “Tania” wielding a machine gun during a robbery; a cast of characters including everyone from Bill Walton to the Black Panthers to Ronald Reagan to F. Lee Bailey; the largest police shoot-out in American history; the first breaking news event to be broadcast live on television stations across the country; Patty’s year on the lam, running from authorities; and her circuslike trial, filled with theatrical courtroom confrontations and a dramatic last-minute reversal, after which the term “Stockholm syndrome” entered the lexicon. The saga of Patty Hearst highlighted a decade in which America seemed to be suffering a collective nervous breakdown. Based on more than a hundred interviews and thousands of previously secret documents, American Heiress thrillingly recounts the craziness of the times (there were an average of 1,500 terrorist bombings a year in the early 1970s). Toobin portrays the lunacy of the half-baked radicals of the SLA and the toxic mix of sex, politics, and violence that swept up Patty Hearst and re-creates her melodramatic trial. American Heiress examines the life of a young woman who suffered an unimaginable trauma and then made the stunning decision to join her captors’ crusade. Or did she?
The book is rated 3.88/5 at goodreads.com, from 5695 ratings. See 933 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2d8rzms.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2soNTzy.

A law book recommendation: Rethink: The Surprising History of New Ideas by Steven Poole

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2xoXdbs.
The whole project has a slapdash, cynical vibe. On the first page, Poole introduces us to the Scottish chemist Robert Davidson and credits him with building, in 1837, “the first known electric car.” In fact, it was a locomotive. In lieu of transitions, he reaches for easy, but quite awkward, rhetorical questions.
Book description from Google Books:
A brilliant and groundbreaking argument that innovation and progress are often achieved by revisiting and retooling ideas from the past rather than starting from scratch—from The Guardian columnist and contributor to The Atlantic.Innovation is not always as innovative as it may seem. This is the story of how old ideas that were mocked or ignored for centuries are now storming back to the cutting edge of science and technology, informing the way we lead our lives. This is the story of Lamarck and the modern-day epigeneticist whose research vindicated his mocked 200-year-old theory of evolution; of the return of cavalry use in the war in Afghanistan; of Tesla’s bringing back the electric car; and of the cognitive scientists who made breakthroughs by turning to ancient Greek philosophy. Drawing on examples from business to philosophy to science, Rethink shows what we can learn by revisiting old, discarded ideas and considering them from a novel perspective. From within all these rich anecdotes of overlooked ideas come good ones, helping us find new ways to think about ideas in our own time—from out-of-the-box proposals in the boardroom to grand projects for social and political change. Armed with this picture of the surprising evolution of ideas and their triumphant second lives, Rethink helps you see the world differently. In the bestselling tradition of Malcolm Gladwell, Poole’s new approach to a familiar topic is fun, convincing, and brilliant—and offers a clear takeaway: if you want to affect the future, start by taking a look at the past.
The book is rated 3.59/5 at goodreads.com, from 63 ratings. See 16 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2aFe7r6.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2ubPBIP.
Google Books preview available in full post.

A law book recommendation: Madison’s Hand: Revising the Constitutional Convention by Mary Sarah Bilder

A critic review (source Washington Times) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2aBmt2P.
This thoroughly researched and elegantly written book tells the story of a remarkable Founding Father and the exhaustive notes he set down during the sweltering summer of 1787…
Book description from Google Books:
No document depicts the Constitutional Convention’s charismatic figures, crushing disappointments, and miraculous triumphs with the force of Madison’s Notes. But how reliable is this account? Drawing on digital technologies and textual analysis, Mary Sarah Bilder reveals that Madison revised to a far greater extent than previously recognized.
The book is rated 3.39/5 at goodreads.com, from 18 ratings. See 9 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2aBlK1G.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2sqDW4x.

A law book recommendation: The History Thieves: Secrets, Lies and the Shaping of a Modern Nation by Ian Cobain

A critic review (source Guardian) can be read at: http://bit.ly/2feJQ5O.
…it may also be that as a society we continue to believe in secrets and the people who make and guard them, despite everything Cobain reveals in this engrossing book.
Book description from Google Books:
From the award winning author of Cruel Britannia, here is a revelatory new book which exposes the culture of concealment at the heart of the British state – from the secret wars of the past century to covert surveillance todayIn 1889, the first Official Secrets Act was passed and created offences of ‘disclosure of information’ and ‘breach of official trust’. It limited and monitored what the public could, and should, be told. Since then, Britain’s governments and civil service have been engaged in the greatest identity fraud of all time – the dishonest and manufactured creation of our understanding of the British nation, our history and our culture.In this important new book, Ian Cobain offers a fresh appraisal of British history since the end of the Second World War, exploring, among other issues: the measures taken to conceal the existence of Bletchley Park and its successor GCHQ for three decades; the unreported wars fought during the 1960s and 70s; the hidden links with terrorist cells during the Troubles; the opaque workings of the criminal justice system; and the state’s peacetime surveillance techniques. The History Thieves is a story that reveals the development of a complex bureaucratic machine – from the vast paper archives from the colonial era to the electronic data captured and stored today – that enables the government to operate unchecked and ensure that its secrets remain hidden. It is a powerful indictment of a political system which defrauds us daily, even as it promises us all the freedom and transparency of a liberal democracy in the Western world.
The book is rated 4.40/5 at goodreads.com, from 40 ratings. See 12 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2dIXFV9.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2snb65i.

A law book recommendation: A Little History of Religion by Richard Holloway

A critic review (source Financial Times) can be read at: http://on.ft.com/2cJhluB.
The conversational tone draws us irresistibly in — though some readers may weary of the exclamation marks and the teacherly asides…
Book description from Google Books:
For curious readers young and old, a rich and colorful history of religion from humanity’s earliest days to our own contentious times In an era of hardening religious attitudes and explosive religious violence, this book offers a welcome antidote. Richard Holloway retells the entire history of religion–from the dawn of religious belief to the twenty-first century–with deepest respect and a keen commitment to accuracy. Writing for those with faith and those without, and especially for young readers, he encourages curiosity and tolerance, accentuates nuance and mystery, and calmly restores a sense of the value of faith.   Ranging far beyond the major world religions of Judaism, Islam, Christianity, Buddhism, and Hinduism, Holloway also examines where religious belief comes from, the search for meaning throughout history, today’s fascinations with Scientology and creationism, religiously motivated violence, hostilities between religious people and secularists, and more. Holloway proves an empathic yet discerning guide to the enduring significance of faith and its power from ancient times to our own.
The book is rated 4.20/5 at goodreads.com, from 319 ratings. See 52 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2cx9a4A.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2smB8p7.

A law book recommendation: The Fix: How Nations Survive and Thrive in a World in Decline by Jonathan Tepperman

A critic review (source NY Times) can be read at: http://nyti.ms/2eNemPU.
Though the book is not long, Tepperman goes into impressive detail in each case study and delivers his assessments in clear, pared-down prose, careful to describe most of his success stories as experiments that could still fail.
Book description from Google Books:
We all know the bad news. Our economies are stagnant. Wages are flat and income inequality keeps rising. The Middle East is burning and extremism is spreading. Frightened voters are embracing populist outsiders and angry nationalists. And no wonder: we are living in an age of unprecedented, irreversible decline–or so we’re constantly being told.         Jonathan Tepperman’s The Fix presents a very different picture. It identifies ten pervasive and seemingly impossible challenges–including immigration reform, economic stagnation, political gridlock, corruption, and Islamist extremism–and shows that, contrary to the general consensus, each has a solution, and not merely a hypothetical one. By taking a close look at overlooked success stories–from countries as diverse as Canada, Botswana, and Indonesia–Tepperman discovers practical advice for problem-solvers of all stripes, making a data-driven case for optimism in a time of crushing pessimism.
The book is rated 3.89/5 at goodreads.com, from 300 ratings. See 62 reader reviews at: http://bit.ly/2dS2kaz.
Buy it or see reader reviews on amazon.com at: http://amzn.to/2soydMT.