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The Dark Side

How Will Intellectual History Help Us Understand the Bush Administration?

I have been listening to Jane Mayer’s The Dark Side* and it has gotten me thinking about how intellectual history may and may not help explain exactly what happened over the last eight years of our nation’s political life. Mayer’s book is excellent and I heartily recommend it as a chronicle of much of what went wrong in the prosecution of the so-called War on Terror. But though Mayer’s book largely concerns the power of ideas—such as the novel legal theories that underwrote so much of what the Bush administration did—Mayer largely avoids intellectual historical explanations for these ideas. Mayer, Read more