A “compelling and unnerving” assessment of how the Constitution has been distorted to accomodate the drive to empire (The Washington Post)
Concerned about the dangers of unchecked executive power, the Founding Fathers deliberately assigned Congress the sole authority to make war. But the last time Congress did so was in 1941, after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor—since then, every president from Harry Truman to George W. Bush has used military force in pursuit of imperial objectives without congressional authorization. In vivid detail, War Powers recounts this story of subversion from above. Drawing on congressional hearings, Supreme Court opinions, media reports, and scholarly accounts, legal historian Peter Irons examines how the Constitution has been stretched, distorted, and violated as presidents usurped a shared, solemn power—eschewing congressional approval and often suspending civil liberties in the process.
An insightful and rousing history, War Powers takes us up to the recent preemptive invasion of Iraq, offering a necessary account of our most pressing contemporary constitutional crisis.