Friday, April 27, 2018

Booknote: Citizen's Guide to Impeachment

Barbara Ann Radnofsky, A Citizen's Guide to Impeachment. Brooklyn, NY: Melville House, 2017.  ISBN: 9781612197050.

Genre: nonfiction
Subgenre: U.S. government, U.S. history, civics
Source: My workplace library, Hutchins Library, Berea College

This is a short little book that more people, especially those barely literate "constitutional scholars" out there, ought to read. At less than 100 pages of text (88 pages out of 150 total pages are text. The rest is notes), this is an easy read any citizen can and should do.

Radnofsky organizes the book as follows:

  • Short introduction.
  • Origins of Impeachment Law. This is where the author presents the history and how the Founders decided to add an impeachment mechanism in the Constitution.
  • Legal Principles and Process of Impeachment. Basically this explains what impeachment is and is not. The author provides a review of the law and how it works. 
  • Federal Impeachments in the United States. This is a historical overview of 19 impeachments done so far, plus "other significant impeachment activity." For each instance we get the who, dates, and result, a short history of what happened, and key lessons from the event. The key lessons are probably the most important part, and they illustrate how impeachment law has improved and been refined over time. 
  • A short conclusion. 
  • Notes and bibliography. This is a very well documented book by the way. 
The book is an easy and accessible read. The author is very good at explaining what impeachment is, what it is not, what it does and does not do. She can take the complex ideas and lay them out in terms any citizen and even legislators can understand. If you have heard about impeachment a lot lately (can't imagine why), but you are not sure what it is or how it works, then this is the book for you.

This is a book that every public library needs to have and promote. If public libraries are about providing access to good, honest, reliable information, including information about their government and  how it works, then they need to have this book. I also recommend it for academic libraries. I already ordered a copy for my library.

Overall this is an excellent book. This is the kind of book that explains key concepts well that we need more of.

5 out of 5 stars.

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