Hamdan v. Rumsfeld: A Historic Challenge to the President

Jonathan Mahler, Author . Farrar, Straus & Giroux $25 (334p) ISBN 978-0-374-22320-5

In this account of the momentous Supreme Court case Hamdan v. Rumsfeld , Mahler (Ladies and Gentlemen, the Bronx Is Burning ) profiles key figures of the defense: JAG lawyer Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, constitutional law professor Neal Katyal and the defendant, Salim Hamdan, Osama bin Laden's former driver. The book chronicles this legal odd couple—Swift, the gregarious blowhard, and Katyal, the diligent straight man—as they struggle to keep their client alive in Guantánamo Bay and craft a case challenging the legality of President George W. Bush's military tribunals. The author narrates their burgeoning relationship with each other and their client—in one endearing passage, Swift seeks counseling for his relationship with Hamden at the same time that he seeks therapy to save his marriage. While Mahler skillfully humanizes the characters and institutions at the heart of the case, the book sags under detailed forays into arcane aspects of the American justice system and irrelevant personal vignettes that feel forced and slow the pace. For whatever dramatic tension the book lacks, Mahler amply conveys the heroism of his protagonists. (Aug. 13)

Reviewed on: 05/19/2008
Release date: 08/01/2008
Compact Disc - 978-1-4332-4400-1
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Paperback - 368 pages - 978-0-312-42885-3
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