Anti-war activists and civil libertarians will find aid and comfort in stories of those who just said no.

I AIN'T MARCHING ANYMORE

DISSENTERS, DESERTERS, AND OBJECTORS TO AMERICA’S WARS

An episodic account of Americans who, in times of war, have gone against the mainstream.

The title comes from Phil Ochs, and it’s on the mark, since many of journalist Lombardi’s subjects marched, fought, bled—and then resisted. One case in point is Daniel Shays, who fought bravely during the Revolutionary War but then, underpaid and with a family to support, had to sell the sword given to him by the Marquis de Lafayette. “The inadequate pay made soldiers like Shays…suspect that those in power, from state legislators to General Washington, saw them as somehow disposable,” Lombardi writes. Thus Shays’ Rebellion and other actions by veterans demanding compensation, a theme that would be picked up 150 years later with the Bonus Army. Some of the author’s other subjects include Ethan Allen Hitchcock, who went against his superiors in objection to the terms of the “Indian removals” of the Jacksonian era; “after nearly a year of crossing the country and talking to tribal leaders,” writes Lombardi, Hitchcock wrote a detailed report showing that, as he put it, “every conceivable subterfuge was employed by designing white men on ignorant Indians.” That report was suppressed. The author also writes about the women who fought in disguise in the Civil War and Clara Barton, whose “gender-dissent lay in her creation of a formerly inconceivable all-female battlefield nursing corps.” The definition seems stretched to the point of breaking before returning to familiar ground with such figures as Vietnam War fighter–turned–anti-war activist–turned-politician John Kerry, who “was among the eight hundred veterans on the steps of the Capitol who threw back their medals, ribbons, war memorabilia.” The narrative often runs out of steam, and there’s not much of a thesis—there are those who go along and those who don’t—but Lombardi covers a lot of ground and chronicles events too little remembered today.

Anti-war activists and civil libertarians will find aid and comfort in stories of those who just said no.

Pub Date: Nov. 10, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-62097-317-2

Page Count: 320

Publisher: The New Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 27, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2020

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A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

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PERIL

An account of the last gasps of the Trump administration, completing a trilogy begun with Fear (2018) and Rage (2020).

One of Woodward and fellow Washington Post reporter Costa’s most memorable revelations comes right away: Gen. Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, calling his counterpart in Beijing to assure him that even after Jan. 6 and what Milley saw as an unmistakable attempt at a coup d’état, he would keep Trump from picking a war with China. This depiction has earned much attention on the talking-heads news channels, but more significant is its follow-up: Milley did so because he was concerned that Trump “might still be looking for what Milley called a ‘Reichstag moment.’ ” Milley emerges as a stalwart protector of the Constitution who constantly courted Trump’s ire and yet somehow survived without being fired. No less concerned about Trump’s erratic behavior was Paul Ryan, the former Speaker of the House, who studied the psychiatric literature for a big takeaway: “Do not humiliate Trump in public. Humiliating a narcissist risked real danger, a frantic lashing out if he felt threatened or criticized.” Losing the 2020 election was one such humiliation, and Woodward and Costa closely track the trajectory of Trump’s reaction, from depression to howling rage to the stubborn belief that the election was rigged. There are a few other modest revelations in the book, including the fact that Trump loyalist William Barr warned him that the electorate didn’t like him. “They just think you’re a fucking asshole,” Barr told his boss. That was true enough, and the civil war that the authors recount among various offices in the White House and government reveals that Trump’s people were only ever tentatively his. All the same, the authors note, having drawn on scores of “deep background” interviews, Trump still has his base, still intends vengeance by way of a comeback, and still constitutes the peril of their title.

A solid work of investigation that, while treading well-covered ground, offers plenty of surprises.

Pub Date: Sept. 21, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-982182-91-5

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Sept. 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2021

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A cogent overview of the court’s crucial role, the application of which is sure to be discussed among scholars.

THE AUTHORITY OF THE COURT AND THE PERIL OF POLITICS

Why the Supreme Court deserves the public’s trust.

Based on his 2021 lecture at Harvard Law School, Supreme Court Justice Breyer offers a selected history of court cases, a defense of judicial impartiality, and recommendations for promoting the public’s respect for and acceptance of the role of the judiciary in the future. The author regrets that many Americans see the justices as “unelected political officials or ‘junior varsity’ politicians themselves, rather than jurists,” asserting that “nearly all” justices apply “the basic same interpretive tools” to decide a case: “They will consider the statute’s text, its history, relevant legal tradition, precedents, the statute’s purposes (or the values that underlie it), and the relevant consequences.” Although Breyer maintains that all try to avoid the influence of ideology or political philosophy, he acknowledges that suggesting “a total and clean divorce between the Court and politics is not quite right either,” since a justice’s background, education, and experiences surely affect their views, especially when considering the consequences of a decision. The judicial process, Breyer explains, begins as a conference held once or twice each week where substantive discussion leads to preliminary conclusions. Sometimes, in order to find a majority, the court will take a minimalist perspective, allowing those who differ “on the broader legal questions to come together in answering narrower ones.” Noting that, in 2016, only 1 in 4 Americans could name the three branches of federal government, Breyer suggests a revival of civics education in schools so that students can learn how government works and what the rule of law is. He believes that confidence in government will result from citizens’ participation in public life: by voting, taking part in local governance such as school boards, and resolving their differences through argument, debate, cooperation, and compromise, all of which are “the embodiment of the democratic ideal.”

A cogent overview of the court’s crucial role, the application of which is sure to be discussed among scholars.

Pub Date: Sept. 7, 2021

ISBN: 978-0-674-26936-1

Page Count: 104

Publisher: Harvard Univ.

Review Posted Online: June 24, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2021

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