More books on Guantanamo Bay? Surely the subject has been completely covered by now, with Obama in the White House, Afghanistan with the Afghans and austerity posing a threat to our wellbeing in a way that Osama bin Laden (for all the noise of his al-Qaeda gang) never truly did? In his marvellously readable and well-researched book Jess Bravin shows convincingly why this is not the case. The Terror Courts is about how a small group of men at the centre of the Bush presidency sought to use the attacks of 11 September 2001 to redefine the American constitution so that the executive branch would enjoy dictatorial powers for the duration of a ‘war on terror’ that was designed never to come to an end. From this distance it is easy to forget the breathtaking ambition of those early years: the president could do absolutely what he wanted, as commander-in-chief, just as Lincoln was supposed to have done in the Civil War or Roosevelt after Pearl Harbor. Congress was never needed or heeded – asking
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'The trick of a successful mercenary ... was somehow to get on almost as well with your enemies as your allies, since those two positions could be reversed at dizzying speed.'
Sarah Dunant on the life of Federico da Montefeltro, Duke of Urbino.
'McDormand has come closer to Lady Macbeth in some of her previous grimly comic performances ... Here she can convey only the banality of evil, as when she fussily curtails the banquet after Macbeth’s hallucination.'
'"Extinct" comprises eighty-five essays on defunct objects, from arsenic wallpaper to the Zeppelin. The format does not immediately inspire confidence ... but "Extinct" turns out to be more satisfying than one might expect.'