Lawfare: Administrative

A Note from Ken Anderson on the Lawfare Book Review

By Book Review Editor
Saturday, July 9, 2011, 4:14 PM

Ben announced the start of the Lawfare Book Review a few weeks ago, but let me once again say welcome and provide a brief editorial introduction. The book review will serve as a place to cover new books in the area of national security and law (broadly construed), and ranging from general audience books to specialized academic volumes.  Ben Wittes kicked things off in June with a review of Jonathan Hafetz, Habeas Corpus After 9/11. Today we are pleased to continue with a review by Benjamin Kleinerman of Eric Posner and Adrian Vermeule, The Executive Unbound.

The editorial aim of the Lawfare Book Review is a little different from many book discussions on blogs.  Many blogs have book discussions that feature the author presenting the book, and then accompanying commentaries.  This is a useful format, and one that allows a lot of interchange with the author – I have participated in many such book discussions at Opinio Juris and Volokh Conspiracy blogs, and will certainly continue to do so.  The Lawfare Book Review will use a different model, however – our aim is to try and re-create the traditional print-medium book review online.  Our editorial sense is that useful as the author-centric book discussion is, there is something also to be gained through the traditional book review.

The essence of the traditional review is critical distance – precisely by not having the author at the center of the discussion, or looking over the shoulder, so to speak, of the reviewer.  Rather than a conversation about the book directly with the author, the aim of the Lawfare Book Review is to engage through an analytic form that has lost some ground in recent years with the closing of many print book reviews.  The guiding philosophy of the review is to engage in traditional criticism as its own genre, around the kinds of books that form the intellectual core of Lawfare.

So for reviewers, we suggest as models the traditional book reviews – The New Republic, the Times Literary Supplement, the New York Review of Books, the New York Times Book Review, Policy Review, the London Review of Books, or the Boston Review.  Lengths can be variable – reviews can be long-form review-essays covering perhaps several books in the NYRB mode; they can be medium-length coverage in the manner of the TLS or TNR; or they can be short, brisk, to-the-point reviews that crisply cover the book.  Reviews will be edited – meaning that as Book Review Editor, I will offer editorial suggestions that a reviewer can take or not take; they will be a mix of style and substance.  Apart from the occasional review or administrative announcement, I will remain behind the scenes and instead remain an active poster on my regular blogs.

Suggestions for books to review or brief proposals to review a book can be sent to the reviews editor at anderson.lawfare@gmail.com.  Publishers are encouraged to send review copies of books in the areas of national security and law, international law, human rights, laws of war, terrorism and counterterrorism, and related topics for review consideration to Professor Kenneth Anderson, Washington College of Law, American University, 4801 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington DC, 20016.