Books

Fiction and Nonfiction Books

NEW RELEASE

The Nation That Never Was:
Reconstructing America’s Story

by Kermit Roosevelt
Coming June 13, 2022
Published by The University of Chicago Press

“A novel way of reading our founding documents and revising them as both law- and nation-building myths. ― Kirkus, starred review

“Astute textual analysis, careful historical research, and a deep commitment to social justice make this an inspiring reexamination of America’s past.” — Publishers Weekly

Our idea of the Founders’ America and its values is not true. We are not the heirs of the Founders, but we can be the heirs of Reconstruction and its vision for equality.

There’s a common story we tell about America: that our fundamental values as a country were stated in the Declaration of Independence, fought for in the Revolution, and made law in the Constitution. But, with the country increasingly divided, this story isn’t working for us anymore—what’s more, it’s not even true. As Kermit Roosevelt argues in this eye-opening reinterpretation of the American story, our fundamental values, particularly equality, are not part of the vision of the Founders. Instead, they were stated in Lincoln’s Gettysburg Address and were the hope of Reconstruction, when it was possible to envision the emergence of the nation committed to liberty and equality.

We face a dilemma these days. We want to be honest about our history and the racism and oppression that Americans have both inflicted and endured. But we want to be proud of our country, too. In The Nation That Never Was, Roosevelt shows how we can do both those things by realizing we’re not the country we thought we were. Reconstruction, Roosevelt argues, was not a fulfillment of the ideals of the Founding but rather a repudiation: we modern Americans are not the heirs of the Founders but of the people who overthrew and destroyed that political order. This alternate understanding of American identity opens the door to a new understanding of ourselves and our story, and ultimately to a better America.

America today is not the Founders’ America, but it can be Lincoln’s America. Roosevelt offers a powerful and inspirational rethinking of our country’s history and uncovers a shared past that we can be proud to claim and use as a foundation to work toward a country that fully embodies equality for all.


Allegiance by Kermit Roosevelt

Allegiance: A Novel

by Kermit Roosevelt
August 25, 2015
Published by Regan Arts

Harper Lee Prize Finalist * Publishers’ Weekly Starred Review

A sophisticated legal thriller that plunges readers into the debate within the US government surrounding the imprisonment of thousands of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

When the news broke about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Caswell “Cash” Harrison was all set to drop out of law school and join the army… until he flunked the physical. Instead, he’s given the opportunity to serve as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. He and another clerk stumble onto a potentially seem to play a key part. Then Cash’s colleague dies under mysterious circumstances, and the young, idealistic lawyer is determined to get at the truth. His investigation will take him from the office of J. Edgar Hoover to an internment camp in California, where he directly confronts the consequences of America’s wartime policies. Kermit Roosevelt combines the momentum of a top-notch legal thriller with a thoughtful examination of one of the worst civil rights violations in US history in this long-awaited follow-up to In the Shadow of the Law.


In the Shadow of the Law: A Novel

by Kermit Roosevelt
June 15, 2005
Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Christian Science Monitor Best Book of the Year and Winner of the Philadelphia Athenaeum Award

Morgan Siler is one of Washington, D.C.’s most powerful K Street law firms, its roster of clients stocked with multi-billion-dollar corporations. Through the obsessive efforts of its founder’s son, Peter Morgan, his father’s old-fashioned business has been transformed into a veritable goliath, embracing bankruptcy and merger divisions that Archibald Morgan had deemed ungentlemanly. As Peter reaches the pinnacle of his career, his firm is embroiled in two difficult cases: a pro bono death-penalty case in Virginia, and a class-action lawsuit brought against Hubble Chemical of Texas after an on-site explosion killed dozens of workers.

Assigned to these cases is a group of young associates and seasoned partners struggling to make their way in the firm. Mark Clayton, fresh out of law school, is beginning to loathe his dull workload, and to be frightened by the downgrading of his personal life, when he is assigned to the pro bono case. Assisting him is the mercurial Walker Eliot, a brilliant third-year associate whose passion for the law is as great as his skill at unraveling its intricacies. The aggressive, profane, and wildly successful litigator Harold Fineman is leading the Hubble defense, assisted by first-year Katja Phillips, whose twin devotion to productivity and idealism intrigue him, and Ryan Grady, another first-year, whose quest to pick up girls is starting to interfere with his work.

In this complex, ambitious, and gripping first novel, Kermit Roosevelt vividly illustrates the subtle and stark effects of the law on the lives not only of a group of lawyers, but also on communities and private citizens. In the Shadow of the Law is a meditation about the life of the law, the organism that is a law firm, and its impact on those who come within its powerful orbit.


Books by Kermit Roosevelt

The Myth of Judicial Activism: Making Sense of Supreme Court Decisions

by Kermit Roosevelt
October 7, 2006
Published by Yale University Press

Can the Constitution change with the times without forsaking
the framers’ original intent?


Constitutional scholar Kermit Roosevelt III offers an elegantly simple way to resolve the heated discord between conservatives, who argue that the Constitution is immutable, and progressives, who insist that it is a This carefully considered book is a welcome addition to the debate over “judicial activism.” Constitutional scholar Kermit Roosevelt III offers an elegantly simple way to resolve the heated discord between conservatives, who argue that the Constitution is immutable, and progressives, who insist that it is a living document that must be reinterpreted in new cultural contexts so that its meaning evolves. Roosevelt uses plain language and compelling examples to explain how the Constitution can be both a constant and an organic document.

Recent years have witnessed an increasing drumbeat of complaints about judicial behavior, focusing particularly on Supreme Court decisions that critics charge are reflections of the Justices’ political preferences rather than enforcement of the Constitution. The author takes a balanced look at these controversial decisions through a compelling new lens of constitutional interpretation. He clarifies the task of the Supreme Court in constitutional cases, then sets out a model to describe how the Court creates doctrine to implement the meaning of the Constitution. Finally, Roosevelt uses this model to show which decisions can be justified as legitimate and which cannot.


Conflict of Laws by Kermit Roosevelt
Conflict of Laws, 2nd Edition
Concepts and Insights Series

by Kermit Roosevelt
October 28, 2014
Published by Foundation Press

This title provides an analytical overview of the field of conflicts and explains all major choice-of-law approaches in simple and straightforward text. Separate chapters explore discrete conflicts issues, including personal jurisdiction, recognition of judgments, family law, and state-federal conflicts, including Erie and preemption. It covers the most recent Supreme Court cases on personal jurisdiction and extraterritorial application of federal law, as well as the latest examples of state choice of law approaches. Extensive description and analysis of leading cases make this book an excellent companion to a casebook as well as a resource for practitioners.