Thoughts on books, often interpreted through the high-brow prism of cartoon (read: Archer) references. Wait! I had something for this...
It's difficult to rate this book because its title is so misleading. Don't get me wrong, the details of Operation Pastorius (the titular “terrorist attack“) are covered. However, this book is decidedly more constitutional law than military history. It's about civil liberties (or lack thereof), the justice system and executive power “in times of war,” featuring a case study of the Nazi saboteur trial. Published in 2005, the author gives a comparative analysis of FDR's handling of the Nazi saboteurs, and the circumstances of and precedence for Guantanamo Bay and declarations of “enemy combatant” status under Bush 43.
Even after resigning myself to the fact that I was drawn into reading this book under false pretenses, I still felt that it was deeply flawed. The balance between security and liberty is a rich topic for debate because there are strong cases to be made for both sides. Though I think of myself as falling more in the “pro liberty” camp, I found myself mentally fighting for the interests of security because author Pierce O'Donnell neglects them so thoroughly. If the best offense is a good defense, then this book is the 2008 Detroit Lions (or the '81 Colts, or '66 Giants, but I wasn't alive then, so they don't really count).
After reading this book, I'm finding it hard to muster the energy to recount the events that led to the scene pictured above. I put in my two cents on George Dasch (the Nazi saboteur who turned himself in) and J. Edgar Hoover in my review of Enemies: A History of the FBI, and (400 pages later) I'm just as happy to to never discuss Ex parte Quirin again (if you want to read the Supreme Court case, it's here for your edification). I guess that says it all—O'Donnell drained the interest right out of me.