For upper-level law students, law clerks, and attorneys, Paul D. Callister’s Field Guide to Legal Research (West Academic Publishing, Mar. 11, 2019) “is not another exhaustive treatise but a concise, working person’s guide to solving complex legal research problems. Much like a field guide, this book classifies problem types and matches them with appropriate legal research resources. It emphasizes “working the problem,” “problem typing,” and then application of problem types to the appropriate resources. Problems and exercises illustrate the application of constructs and techniques to particular situations. Coverage is much broader than in first-year legal research classes. The book includes problems based on government agencies, statistics, and even patent law. There are numerous “screen shots” and images to facilitate the learning process.” Recommended.

From the blurb for Vicky Ward, Kushner, Inc.: Greed. Ambition. Corruption. The Extraordinary Story of Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump (St. Martin’s Press, Mar. 19, 2019):

Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump are the self-styled Prince and Princess of America. Their swift, gilded rise to extraordinary power in Donald Trump’s White House is unprecedented and dangerous. In Kushner, Inc., investigative journalist Vicky Ward digs beneath the myth the couple has created, depicting themselves as the voices of reason in an otherwise crazy presidency, and reveals that Jared and Ivanka are not just the President’s chief enablers: they, like him, appear disdainful of rules, of laws, and of ethics. They are entitled inheritors of the worst kind; their combination of ignorance, arrogance, and an insatiable lust for power has caused havoc all over the world, and may threaten the democracy of the United States.

Ward follows their trajectory from New Jersey and New York City to the White House, where the couple’s many forays into policy-making and national security have mocked long-standing U.S. policy and protocol. They have pursued an agenda that could increase their wealth while their actions have mostly gone unchecked. In Kushner, Inc., Ward holds Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump accountable: she unveils the couple’s self-serving transactional motivations and how those have propelled them into the highest levels of the US government where no one, the President included, has been able to stop them.

From the blurb for Kendall Svengalis, A Layperson’s Guide to Legal Research and Self-Help Law Books (New England Press 2018):

This unique and revolutionary new reference book provides reviews of nearly 800 significant self-help law books in 85 subject areas, each of which is proceeded by a concise and illuminating overview of the subject area, with links to online sources for further information. The appendices include the most complete directory of public law libraries in the United States. This is an essential reference work for any law, public, or academic library which fields legal questions or inquiries.

Highly recommended.

Here’s the blurb for Merchants of Truth: The Business of News and the Fight for Facts (Simon & Schuster, Feb. 5, 2019) by Jill Abramson:

Merchants of Truth is the groundbreaking and gripping story of the precarious state of the news business told by one of our most eminent journalists.

Jill Abramson follows four companies: The New York Times, The Washington Post, BuzzFeed, and VICE Media over a decade of disruption and radical adjustment. The new digital reality nearly kills two venerable newspapers with an aging readership while creating two media behemoths with a ballooning and fickle audience of millennials. We get to know the defenders of the legacy presses as well as the outsized characters who are creating the new speed-driven media competitors. The players include Jeff Bezos and Marty Baron (The Washington Post), Arthur Sulzberger and Dean Baquet (The New York Times), Jonah Peretti (BuzzFeed), and Shane Smith (VICE) as well as their reporters and anxious readers.

Merchants of Truth raises crucial questions that concern the well-being of our society. We are facing a crisis in trust that threatens the free press. Abramson’s book points us to the future.

From the blurb for Robert J. Norris, Exonerated: A History of the Innocence Movement (NYU Press, Feb. 5, 2019):

Documentaries like Making a Murderer, the first season of Serial, and the cause célèbre that was the West Memphis Three captured the attention of millions and focused the national discussion on wrongful convictions. This interest is warranted: more than 1,800 people have been set free in recent decades after being convicted of crimes they did not commit.

In response to these exonerations, federal and state governments have passed laws to prevent such injustices; lawyers and police have changed their practices; and advocacy organizations have multiplied across the country. Together, these activities are often referred to as the “innocence movement.” Exonerated provides the first in-depth look at the history of this movement through interviews with key leaders such as Barry Scheck and Rob Warden as well as archival and field research into the major cases that brought awareness to wrongful convictions in the United States.

Robert Norris also examines how and why the innocence movement took hold. He argues that while the innocence movement did not begin as an organized campaign, scientific, legal, and cultural developments led to a widespread understanding that new technology and renewed investigative diligence could both catch the guilty and free the innocent.

From the blurb for Mar-a-Lago: Inside the Gates of Power at Donald Trump’s Presidential Palace (Flatiron Books, Jan. 29, 2019) by Laurence Leamer:

To know Donald J. Trump it is best to start in his natural habitat: Palm Beach, Florida. It is here he learned the techniques that took him all the way to the White House. Painstakingly, over decades, he has created a world in this exclusive tropical enclave and favorite haunt of billionaires where he is not just president but a king. The vehicle for his triumph is Mar-A-Lago, one of the greatest mansions ever built in the United States. The inside story of how he became King of Palm Beach―and how Palm Beach continues to be his spiritual home even as president―is rollicking, troubling, and told with unrivaled access and understanding by Laurence Leamer.

In Mar-A-Lago, the reader will learn:

  • How Donald Trump bought a property now valued by some at as much as $500,000,000 for less than three thousand dollars of his own money.
  • Why Trump was blackballed by the WASP grandees of the island and how he got his revenge.
  • How Trump joined forces with the National Enquirer, which was headquartered nearby, and engineered his own divorce.
  • How by turning Mar-A-Lago into a private club, Trump was the unlikely man to integrate Palm Beach’s restricted country club scene, and what his real motives were.
  • What transpires behind the gates of today’s Mar-A-Lago during “the season,” when President Trump and assorted D.C. power players fly down each weekend.

In addition to copious interviews and reporting from inside Mar-A-Lago, Laurence Leamer brings an acute and unparalleled understanding of the society of Palm Beach, where he has lived for twenty-five years. He has written an essential book for understanding Donald Trump’s inner character.

From the blurb for Team of Vipers: My 500 Extraordinary Days in the Trump White House, (Thomas Dunne Books,  Jan. 29, 2019) by Cliff Sims:

After standing at Donald Trump’s side on Election Night, Cliff Sims joined him in the West Wing as Special Assistant to the President and Director of White House Message Strategy.

He soon found himself pulled into the President’s inner circle as a confidante, an errand boy, an advisor, a punching bag, and a friend. Sometimes all in the same conversation.

As a result, Sims gained unprecedented access to the President, sitting in on private meetings with key Congressional officials, world leaders, and top White House advisors. He saw how Trump handled the challenges of the office, and he learned from Trump himself how he saw the world.

For five hundred days, Sims also witnessed first-hand the infighting and leaking, the anger, joy, and recriminations. He had a role in some of the President’s biggest successes, and he shared the blame for some of his administration’s worst disasters. He gained key, often surprising insights into the players of the Trump West Wing, from Jared Kushner and John Kelly to Steve Bannon and Kellyanne Conway.

He even helped Trump craft his enemies list, knowing who was loyal and who was not.

And he took notes. Hundreds of pages of notes. In real-time.

Sims stood with the President in the eye of the storm raging around him, and now he tells the story that no one else has written―because no one else could. The story of what it was really like in the West Wing as a member of the President’s team. The story of power and palace intrigue, backstabbing and bold victories, as well as painful moral compromises, occasionally with yourself.

From the blurb for Unequal Profession: Race and Gender in Legal Academia (Stanford UP, 2019) by Meera E. Deo:

This book is the first formal, empirical investigation into the law faculty experience using a distinctly intersectional lens, examining both the personal and professional lives of law faculty members.

Comparing the professional and personal experiences of women of color professors with white women, white men, and men of color faculty from assistant professor through dean emeritus, Unequal Profession explores how the race and gender of individual legal academics affects not only their individual and collective experience, but also legal education as a whole. Drawing on quantitative and qualitative empirical data, Meera E. Deo reveals how race and gender intersect to create profound implications for women of color law faculty members, presenting unique challenges as well as opportunities to improve educational and professional outcomes in legal education. Deo shares the powerful stories of law faculty who find themselves confronting intersectional discrimination and implicit bias in the form of silencing, mansplaining, and the presumption of incompetence, to name a few. Through hiring, teaching, colleague interaction, and tenure and promotion, Deo brings the experiences of diverse faculty to life and proposes a number of mechanisms to increase diversity within legal academia and to improve the experience of all faculty members.

From the blurb for Prosecuting the President: How Special Prosecutors Hold Presidents Accountable and Protect the Rule of Law (Oxford UP, Jan. 15, 2019) by Andrew Coan:

The first special prosecutor was appointed by President Ulysses S. Grant in 1875, to investigate a bribery scandal involving his close friends and associates. Ever since, presidents of both parties have appointed special prosecutors and empowered them to operate with unusual independence. Also called special counsels and independent counsels, such appointments became a standard method for neutralizing political scandals and demonstrating the President’s commitment to the rule of law. Special counsel Robert Mueller is the latest example.

In Prosecuting the President, Andrew Coan offers a highly engaging look at the long, mostly forgotten history of special prosecutors in American politics. For more than a century, special prosecutors have struck fear into the hearts of Presidents, who have the power to fire them at any time. How could this be, Coan asks? And how could the nation entrust such a high responsibility to such subordinate officials? With vivid storytelling and historical examples, Coan demonstrates that special prosecutors can do much to protect the rule of law under the right circumstances.

Many have been thwarted by the formidable challenges of investigating a sitting President and his close associates; a few have abused the powers entrusted to them. But at their best, special prosecutors function as catalysts of democracy, channeling an unfocused popular will to safeguard the rule of law. By raising the visibility of high-level misconduct, they enable the American people to hold the President accountable. Yet, if a President thinks he can fire a special prosecutor without incurring serious political damage, he has the power to do so. Ultimately, Coan concludes, only the American people can decide whether the President is above the law.

From the blurb for The Age of Surveillance Capitalism: The Fight for a Human Future at the New Frontier of Power (PublicAffairs, Jan. 15, 2019) by Shoshana Zuboff:

Shoshana Zuboff’s interdisciplinary breadth and depth enable her to come to grips with the social, political, business, and technological meaning of the changes taking place in our time. We are at a critical juncture in the confrontation between the vast power of giant high-tech companies and government, the hidden economic logic of surveillance capitalism, and the propaganda of machine supremacy that threaten to shape and control human life. Will the brazen new methods of social engineering and behavior modification threaten individual autonomy and democratic rights and introduce extreme new forms of social inequality? Or will the promise of the digital age be one of individual empowerment and democratization?

The Age of Surveillance Capitalism is neither a hand-wringing narrative of danger and decline nor a digital fairy tale. Rather, it offers a deeply reasoned and evocative examination of the contests over the next chapter of capitalism that will decide the meaning of information civilization in the twenty-first century. The stark issue at hand is whether we will be the masters of information and machines or its slaves.

H/T beSpacific.

From the abstract for The Monarchy of Fear: A Philosopher Looks at Our Political Crisis (Simon & Schuster, 2018):

For decades Martha C. Nussbaum has been an acclaimed scholar and humanist, earning dozens of honors for her books and essays. In The Monarchy of Fear she turns her attention to the current political crisis that has polarized American since the 2016 election.

Although today’s atmosphere is marked by partisanship, divisive rhetoric, and the inability of two halves of the country to communicate with one another, Nussbaum focuses on what so many pollsters and pundits have overlooked. She sees a simple truth at the heart of the problem: the political is always emotional. Globalization has produced feelings of powerlessness in millions of people in the West. That sense of powerlessness bubbles into resentment and blame. Blame of immigrants. Blame of Muslims. Blame of other races. Blame of cultural elites. While this politics of blame is exemplified by the election of Donald Trump and the vote for Brexit, Nussbaum argues it can be found on all sides of the political spectrum, left or right.

From the blurb for Cailin O’Connor & James Owen Weatherall, The Misinformation Age: How False Beliefs Spread (Yale UP, Dec. 11, 2018):

Philosophers of science Cailin O’Connor and James Weatherall argue that social factors, rather than individual psychology, are what’s essential to understanding the spread and persistence of false beliefs. It might seem that there’s an obvious reason that true beliefs matter: false beliefs will hurt you. But if that’s right, then why is it (apparently) irrelevant to many people whether they believe true things or not?

The Misinformation Age, written for a political era riven by “fake news,” “alternative facts,” and disputes over the validity of everything from climate change to the size of inauguration crowds, shows convincingly that what you believe depends on who you know. If social forces explain the persistence of false belief, we must understand how those forces work in order to fight misinformation effectively.

From the abstract for The Formation and Transmission of Western Legal Culture: 150 Books that Made the Law in the Age of Printing (Springer, 2016):

This volume surveys 150 law books of fundamental importance in the history of Western legal literature and culture. The entries are organized in three sections: the first dealing with the transitional period of fifteenth-century editions of medieval authorities, the second spanning the early modern period from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century, and the third focusing on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. The contributors are scholars from all over the world. Each ‘old book’ is analyzed by a recognized specialist in the specific field of interest. Individual entries give a short biography of the author and discuss the significance of the works in the time and setting of their publication, and in their broader influence on the development of law worldwide. Introductory essays explore the development of Western legal traditions, especially the influence of the English common law, and of Roman and canon law on legal writers, and the borrowings and interaction between them.

The book goes beyond the study of institutions and traditions of individual countries to chart a broader perspective on the transmission of legal concepts across legal, political, and geographical boundaries. Examining the branches of this genealogical tree of books makes clear their pervasive influence on modern legal systems, including attempts at rationalizing custom or creating new hybrid systems by transplanting Western legal concepts into other jurisdictions.

In his latest book, The Trump Administration and International Law (Oxford UP, 2018), Harold Hongju Koh provides an answer to the question that has perplexed international political and legal thinkers since President Donald Trump’s election: will the Trump administration’s policies permanently alter the post-war international order?

From the blurb for Harold Hongju Koh, The Trump Administration and International Law (Oxford UP, 2018):

Will Donald trump international law? Since Trump’s Administration took office, this question has haunted almost every issue area of international law. One of our leading international lawyers-a former Legal Adviser of the US State Department, Assistant Secretary of State for Human Rights, and Yale Law Dean-argues that President Trump has thus far enjoyed less success than many believe, because he does not own the pervasive “transnational legal process” that governs these issue areas. This book shows how those opposing Trump’s policies during his administration’s first two years have successfully triggered that process as part of a collective counter-strategy akin to Muhammad Ali’s “rope-a-dope.” The book surveys immigration and refugee law, human rights, climate change, denuclearization, trade diplomacy, relations with North Korea, Russia and Ukraine, America’s “Forever War” against Al Qaeda and the Islamic State, and the ongoing tragedy in Syria. Koh’s tour d’horizon illustrates the many techniques that players in the transnational legal process have used to blunt Trump’s early initiatives. The high stakes of this struggle, and its broader implications for the future of global governance-now challenged by the rise of populist authoritarians-make this exhausting counter-strategy both worthwhile and necessary.

In Donald Trump: The Making of a World View (I.B. Tauris & Co Ltd, 2017), noted UK-based historians Brendan Simms and Charlie Laderman argue it’s a grave error to see Trump’s foreign policy views as impulsive and inconsistent, or believe that they were improvised on the campaign trail and now in office. They also explore how Trump’s foreign policy views aren’t new in American history, but are based on beliefs deeply rooted in U.S. history.

Economic Nationalism vs. Globalization
Drawing on extensively documented Trump interviews, tweets, articles, and books from as far back as 1980, the authors reveal that Trump’s world view has been consistent on international trade and America’s alliances, but instead of Europe and Japan being the nations getting the better deal – or a “free ride” in the phrase Trump used in the 1980s – today it’s China. Trump’s resistance to globalization is also extensively cited over the decades.

A Tradition of Blame
Similarly, the authors detail how one aspect of Trump’s foreign policy rhetoric has been a long-standing tradition of American politics – blaming all of America’s current problems on the mistakes or “bad deals” of its leaders. They list extensive examples of how American politicians have leveraged popular support by promoting the simple belief that in a complex world, any problems the U.S. faces are the result of the mistakes of previous leadership.

From the blurb for Laura Little, Guilty Pleasures: Comedy and Law in America (Oxford UP, Dec. 31, 2018):

Few people associate law books with humor. Yet the legal world–in particular the American legal system–is itself frequently funny. Indeed, jokes about the profession are staples of American comedy. And there is actually humor within the world of law too: both lawyers and judges occasionally strive to be funny to deal with the drudgery of their duties. Just as importantly, though, our legal system is a strong regulator of humor. It encourages some types of humor while muzzling or punishing others. In a sense, law and humor engage a two-way feedback loop: humor provides the raw material for legal regulation and legal regulation inspires humor. In Guilty Pleasures, legal scholar Laura Little provides a multi-faceted account of American law and humor, looking at constraints on humor (and humor’s effect on law), humor about law, and humor in law. In addition to interspersing amusing episodes from the legal world throughout the book, the book contains 75 New Yorker cartoons about lawyers and a preface by Bob Mankoff, the cartoon editor for the New Yorker.

From the blurb for Amalia D. Kessler, Inventing American Exceptionalism: The Origins of American Adversarial Legal Culture, 1800-1877 (Yale UP, 2017):

When Americans imagine their legal system, it is the adversarial trial—dominated by dueling larger-than-life lawyers undertaking grand public performances—that first comes to mind. But as award-winning author Amalia Kessler reveals in this engrossing history, it was only in the turbulent decades before the Civil War that adversarialism became a defining American practice and ideology, displacing alternative, more judge-driven approaches to procedure. By drawing on a broad range of methods and sources—and by recovering neglected influences (including from Europe)—the author shows how the emergence of the American adversarial legal culture was a product not only of developments internal to law, but also of wider socioeconomic, political, and cultural debates over whether and how to undertake market regulation and pursue racial equality. As a result, adversarialism came to play a key role in defining American legal institutions and practices, as well as national identity.

H/T Legal History Blog post, noting that Kessler’s book was awarded the 2018 John Phillip Reid Prize by the American Society for Legal History.

From the abstract for Pete Souza, Shade: A Tale of Two Presidents (Little, Brown, Oct. 16, 2018):

Shade is a portrait in Presidential contrasts, telling the tale of the Obama and Trump administrations through a series of visual juxtapositions. Here, more than one hundred of Souza’s unforgettable images of President Obama deliver new power and meaning when framed by the tweets, news headlines, and quotes that defined the first 500 days of the Trump White House.

What began with Souza’s Instagram posts soon after President Trump’s inauguration in January 2017 has become a potent commentary on the state of the Presidency, and our country. Some call this “throwing shade.” Souza calls it telling the truth.

In Shade, Souza’s photographs are more than a rejoinder to the chaos, abuses of power, and destructive policies that now define our nation’s highest office. They are a reminder of a President we could believe in, and a courageous defense of American values.

An excerpt from the blurb for The Threat: How the FBI Protects America in the Age and Terror of Trump (St. Martin’s Press, Dec. 4, 2018):

The Threat recounts in compelling detail the time between Donald Trump’s November 2016 election and McCabe’s firing, set against a page-turning narrative spanning two decades when the FBI’s mission shifted to a new goal: preventing terrorist attacks on Americans. But as McCabe shows, right now the greatest threat to the United States comes from within, as President Trump and his administration ignore the law, attack democratic institutions, degrade human rights, and undermine the U.S. Constitution that protects every citizen.

— Joe