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Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush

3.47  ·  Rating details ·  87 Ratings  ·  12 Reviews
An American President faces war and finds himself hamstrung by a Congress that will not act. To protect national security, he invokes his powers as Commander-in-Chief and orders actions that seem to violate laws enacted by Congress. He is excoriated for usurping dictatorial powers, placing himself above the law, and threatening to “breakdown constitutional safeguards.”


Hardcover, 544 pages
Published January 5th 2010 by Kaplan Publishing (first published 2010)
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Apr 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
Although the author himself has become notorious for his involvement with 'enhanced interrogation techniques' under the Bush administration, he has written a knowledgeable and interesting book about the evolution of executive power over the history of the American presidency. It is a bit tough at points, and requires some knowledge of the basis of constitutional law. Although what the author did remains under fierce debate, he is at least a coherent and analytical enough thinker in order to expl ...more
Jan 20, 2010 rated it did not like it
I confess, I did not finish this book. It read like a doctoral theses, very dry, too many references, no flow.
Anthony Bergen
May 30, 2011 rated it did not like it
(Review originally posted on Dead Presidents)

Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power from George Washington to George W. Bush
By John Woo
Hardcover. 524 pages.
2009. Kaplan Publishing

When I received John Yoo's book, Crisis and Command (2009, Kaplan), I approached it with an open mind.  I did not want to judge it ahead of time simply because the author happened to be one of the Justice Department lawyers who helped shape George W. Bush's policies on national security during the War on Terro
Feb 06, 2014 rated it liked it
This is a good book, though probably not as entertaining as some of the reviews of it on Goodreads. The book tends to wander at the end of its exposition on the particular presidents it examines, and once it enters into the 20th century a bit of a partisan tone can be found - though any partisan tone seems to be unintentional - if you look for it.

In essence the book explores crises faced by presidents and finds that they exercised a robust, Hamiltonian command of the presidency to meet the chal
Jan 31, 2010 rated it liked it
I learned a lot about Jefferson and Jackson in this book which has changed my opinion of both.

Jefferson deserves his position in the pantheon of founding fathers for his role in writing the Declaration of Independence and Constitution, for his actions as a diplomat during the revolution and for his service as Washington's Secretary of State.

As President Jefferson was mediocre at best; his record was rescued only by the Louisiana Purchase; but he was so unsure of his constitutional authority tha
Vanessa C
Jan 20, 2014 rated it did not like it
An unpleasant literary (and only sometimes scholarly) contribution from a very intelligent and manipulative lawyer to the existing literature on Executive Power. Yoo was the one of the master architects in designing an overreaching, all powerful executive administration along with Cheney, Rumsfeld, Wolfowitz, Ashcroft and Rice. This book serves as an attempt to justify, through our constitutional history, his instrumental involvement with the Bush administration. Democratic accountability being ...more
Travis Murtha
Jan 17, 2011 rated it really liked it
Critics of executive power should read this. It gets a bit constitutional in nature for non-lawyers but I loved it. Found myself wanting to learn more about Reconstruction under Lincoln before his assassination and FDR's alteration of the balance between the executive and legislative branches as a result of the administrative state we now know. His examination of the use and limits of executive power in times of emergency gave me a lot of perspective after reading so much about how W is portraye ...more
The American Conservative
'The idea behind Crisis and Command: A History of Executive Power From George Washington to George W. Bush, is simple: throughout American history, crisis has inspired constitutional daring, and the race to presidential greatness goes not to the leader who hews most faithfully to the constitutional text but to the one most willing to bend the document to meet the perceived demands of the day. It is a disappointing contribution to the literature on the Constitution and the American presidency, an ...more
Sarmatia S
Aug 08, 2011 rated it did not like it
I'm perplexed at the positive reviews. They are apologism for a true American monster.
It would be like praising Torquemada by contemporaries. I denounce John Yoo as an unrepentant monster and his words as filth.
Daniel DeLappe
Sep 13, 2010 rated it it was amazing
This is a great informative read. Love or hate him for what he has done, but he is an actual intellect. Take your time and take in what he is actually saying. If you like the study of the law you will love this book.
Kevin J. Rogers
Jan 30, 2010 marked it as to-read
I'm going to read this one side-by-side with The Shield of Achilles. And I think it may be more than a little ironic that their respective covers have almost identical color schemes--but in reverse.
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