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The Challenge: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the Fight Over Presidential Power
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The Challenge: Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the Fight Over Presidential Power

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  138 ratings  ·  25 reviews
An inspiring legal thriller set against the backdrop of the war on terror, "The Challenge" tells the inside story of a historic Supreme Court showdown. At its center are a Navy JAG and a young constitutional law professor who, in the aftermath of 9/11, find themselves defending their nation in the unlikeliest of ways: by suing the president of the United States on behalf o ...more
Hardcover, 352 pages
Published August 5th 2008 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
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4.16  · 
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 ·  138 ratings  ·  25 reviews

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Today, I went to a CLE put on by the Washington Courts Historical Society in the courtroom of the Temple of Justice. The first afternoon speaker was Captain David C. Iglesias, who is currently prosecuting terrorism suspects in front of military commissions in Guantanamo (and may or may not be the inspiration for Tom Cruise’s character on A Few Good Men, was fired from his job as US Attorney by the Bush Administration probably because he refused to do politically motivated prosecutions). The seco ...more
Nov 08, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, law, war
My kind of book - the legal twists and turns of a momentous case, the political forces knocking things off track and on again, and the personal backgrounds and foibles of the folks involved, both voluntarily and involuntarily.

This is the kind of book I would have really enjoyed before I went to law school - it's a fascinating look behind the scenes of one of the first big cases resulting from the military commissions set up for "enemy combatants" held at Guantanamo Bay. Mahler does a solid job
Mar 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
A strikingly relevant book about the extent and limitations of presidential power in light of recent events. The author paints a picture of the incredible amount of hard work, dedication, creativity, attention to detail and luck it takes to navigate a case through the American legal system to the Supreme Court. Mahler strikes a good balance between the nuanced and sometimes very important minutia of an intricate legal case, and the broad national and international impacts the decision of one per ...more
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: audiobook
Mahler sets out not only to recount a wonderful legal thriller, but also to exemplify just how far-reaching and undemocratic the Bush Administration sought to be in their tyrannical War on Terror. Depicting a challenge of the military tribunal approach for Guantanamo captives, which makes its way to the US Supreme Court, JAG lawyer Charles Swift and constitutional lawyer Neal Katyal challenge the law and sue the President of the United States along with the Secretary of Defence. What follows is ...more
Nov 02, 2008 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: students of national security law.
I'll start with the negative first: the author's bias. First of all, I come into every non-fiction book I read with as much of an objective state of mind as possible and try very hard not to pass judgment or try to superimpose my own values onto a particular author's viewpoint. In return, I expect the author of non-fiction to employ a similar objective standard when presenting the material he is writing about and to let the people and documents he researches speak for themselves as much as possi ...more
Andrew Skretvedt
Sep 05, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An important book.

Setting up the detention facility at Guantanamo Bay will be regarded in time, I think, as one of G.W. Bush's greatest mistakes during his presidency (along with the creation of the DHS, and the 2008 Wall Street bailouts). One can accept the idea of a need to find a place to put the really bad men we've discovered in our so-called "War on Terror." But this books illuminates the corrosion of our foundational American ideals of justice that have resulted from its administration.

Linda Merker
Sep 02, 2008 rated it it was amazing
It's been awhile since I felt strongly enough about a book to recommend it on Goodreads -- but this one definitely makes the cut. Think the title sounds deadly? Think again! It is a page-turner as compelling as any mystery, even though we already now know how the story plays out. It is exhaustively researched, cleanly and gracefully written, and the characters are sympathetically portrayed even at their most unlikeable moments. Best of all, this book revives our hopes for the survival of the rig ...more
Sep 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A great read, well, listen as I used the audiobook format, and it did a great job of keeping me awake for two 5-hour drives.

Tells the story of Hamdan (bin Laden's 'driver') and the lawyers who tried (and are still trying) to get him a modicum of justice in the post-9-11 world. Very engaging and well-written. Little of this is really about Hamdan, most of it is about "us", how valiant champions of justice gave up significant portions of their lives and their careers for the principle that our for
Will H
Oct 06, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Pick up the latest book remotely related to Supreme Court litigation (looking at you Jeffrey Toobin) and it will be immediately apparent that Neal Katyal was the source of most of the material. For this book, I'm tempted to say that Katyal was the source of almost all of the material.
That being said, it's a great read about one of the most important Supreme Court cases of the first decade of the War on Terror. When people look back and (hopefully) wonder why the United States government held bin
Oct 24, 2008 added it
"At this, Souter's face reddened in anger. Normally the least confrontational of the justices, a man with the placid demeanor of a small-town librarian, he rocked forward abruptly and cut Clement off. Numerous Court watchers later remarked that they had never seen him so exercised. 'Now, wait a minute,' Souter sputtered in disbelief. 'The writ is the writ. There are no two writs of habeas corpus, one for some cases and one for others.'"
John Morse
Jun 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
*Spoiler alert*
Every law student studies this case, but there are so many other important parts of the case that I didn't know about, and it was especially interesting to learn about the case's positive impact on the treatment of other captured suspected enemy combatants. At the end of the book Hamdan is eventually convicted of one charge, but it was later overturned by a federal judge after the book was published.
Dec 29, 2008 rated it it was amazing
A fast-paced engaging read. Mahler artfully weaves this true life, David vs. Goliath tale to keep you turning the pages. A must-read for any lawyer or anyone interested in American history.

Prof. Katyal, the book's protagonist, was actually my law professor at Georgetown(before Hamdan or the War on Terror). I can attest to the fact that he is as nice as he is brilliant. A first-rate human being.
Mark Heeyeaah
Dec 19, 2008 rated it really liked it
Disclaimer up front: I'm a law student in the middle of 1L year. So this book was probably more exciting to me that it would be to the casual reader. That said, it is an extremely readable and accessible account of one of the most important Supreme Court cases of the century. I highly recommend it.
Jun 02, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best kind of non-fiction: interesting, informative, makes you think (and let's you make up your own mind), while you can't help but cheer for all the characters...even those on opposing sides of the argument. :)
Jenny M
Sep 10, 2008 rated it really liked it
This is the definitive book on Hamdan v. Rumsfeld (although it went to print before the August 2008 verdict in Hamdan's military commission trial). I knew that some impressive lawyering had taken place in the case, but this really lays out the high stakes game that was being played.
Oct 31, 2009 rated it really liked it
An amazing story and an amazing case told (sure why not?) amazingly well. This is one of those stories that makes a Lefty like me proud to be an American and proud of all those Americans who fight the good fight--and sometimes actually win.
Tim Lundquist
Outside account of Hamdan v. Rumsfeld and the two lawyers who sued the Bush administration--Neal Katyal, now SG in the Obama Administration, and Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, a Navy JAG. Interesting tid-bits, but nothing earth-shattering. Sort of a national security version of a Civil Action.
Wwingfield Wingfield
This is an incredible book. It is about couragous men who stood up to Presidency to defend the Constition and prisoner's right.
tom wilner cameo!

ps did you know that katyal listened to 'what's my age again' on the way to argue hamdan at the supreme court?
You'd have to really, really like law to enjoy this book.
Feb 05, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I've read a couple books about the Gitmo situation and this is by far the best story...entertaining and gripping.
Feb 14, 2013 rated it really liked it
Must read for any TDS atty
Chris Hall
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