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Publisher's Summary

Four experts on the American presidency examine the three times impeachment has been invoked - against Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton - and explain what it means today.

Impeachment is a double-edged sword. Though it was designed to check tyrants, Thomas Jefferson also called impeachment “the most formidable weapon for the purpose of a dominant faction that was ever contrived”. On the one hand, it nullifies the will of voters, the basic foundation of all representative democracies. On the other, its absence from the Constitution would leave the country vulnerable to despotic leadership. It is rarely used, and with good reason. Only three times has a president’s conduct led to such political disarray as to warrant his potential removal from office, transforming a political crisis into a constitutional one. None has yet succeeded. Andrew Johnson was impeached in 1868 for failing to kowtow to congressional leaders - and, in a large sense, for failing to be Abraham Lincoln - yet survived his Senate trial. Richard Nixon resigned in August 1974 after the House Judiciary Committee approved three articles of impeachment against him for lying, obstructing justice, and employing his executive power for personal and political gain. Bill Clinton had an affair with a White House intern, but in 1999 he faced trial in the Senate less for that prurient act than for lying under oath about it. 

In the first book to consider these three presidents alone - and the one thing they have in common - Jeffrey A. Engel, Jon Meacham, Timothy Naftali, and Peter Baker explain that the basis and process of impeachment is more political than legal. The Constitution states that the president “shall be removed from Office on Impeachment for, and Conviction of, Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors”, leaving room for historical precedent and the temperament of the time to weigh heavily on each case. This book reveals the complicated motives behind each impeachment - never entirely limited to the question of a president’s guilt - and the risks to all sides. Each case depended on factors beyond the president’s behavior: his relationship with Congress, the polarization of the moment, and the power and resilience of the office itself. This is a realist view of impeachment that looks to history for clues about its potential use in the future.

©2018 Jeffrey A. Engel, Jon Meacham, Timothy Naftali, and Peter Baker (P)2018 Random House Audio

What listeners say about Impeachment

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  • Marshall
  • 17-11-18

May not scratch your personal itch, but read it anyway!

A deep dive into the history of presidential impeachment in the U.S. Very well researched and thoughtfully written. This country is almost certainly headed for another impeachment inquiry. We need to better understand what impeachment is and what it is not, and how to evaluate not only the circumstances where such actions are warranted, but also to evaluate when we are better off as a people to let the ballot box decide the ultimate fate of a president’s continued employment in the service of the people.

This book is not an easy one to read because it is history and requires the ability to follow the narrative very closely in order to fully understand the facts and outcomes of each case. But if you make the effort you will be rewarded with greater depth of insight into both the process and the pitfalls of presidential impeachment. I urge every citizen to read this book. Now.

15 people found this helpful

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  • astrauss
  • 10-12-18

Excellent, Comprehensive Study of Impeachment

If you see a scholarly, well researched, and entertaining piece on Impeachment, this is your book. I had preconceived notions on the appropriate triggers for impeachment . Some of these notions were reinforced after reading the book, others were proven unwise. This is a very interesting (and quick) read on a timely topic. It deserves your attention.

8 people found this helpful

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  • sharell johnson
  • 29-06-19

Awesome listen!

Loved it...gives perspective to the things going on in politics today. Loved the chapter on Nixon!

5 people found this helpful

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  • Ken
  • 15-07-19

great timing

this book will give you a better understanding of what impeachment is all about. it's a very good read.

4 people found this helpful

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  • CJFLA
  • 13-03-19

Very, very good

An unbiased history of several moments when the country faced the possibility of presidential impeachment. Very intersting, very informative.

4 people found this helpful

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  • William G. Stuart
  • 15-02-19

Timely Analysis of Historical Precedent

I found this book most interesting. As some float the possibility of articles of impeachment against a sitting president, it's important to understand the constitutional basis for this action and to see how politicians viewed and used this power and awesome responsibility three other times in history to launch the process against sitting presidents.

The authors are thorough in their historical and legal analysis. They describe the politics of the time, the respect with which both major parties viewed the process, and the delicate balancing act in which members of the opposition party engaged as they tried to sort out what were political differences and what actions rose to the level of impeachable offenses.

They also provide perspective going back to the Constitutional Convention of 1787 and how delegates debated furiously over how broad or narrow to make the constitutional definition of impeachable offenses and under what circumstances this weapon should be aimed at a sitting president.

All in all, I found this book an excellent listen and recommend it to anyone like me, who's a student of history and government and wants to be well informed when hot-topic issues like the possibility of impeaching a president surface.

4 people found this helpful

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  • Anonymous User
  • 05-09-19

Must Listen. A need to know for any Citizen

An excellent explanation of how & why the impeachment tool was written into the Constitution.
Clear & interesting after actions of each use of impeachment, successful & unsuccessful, along with the effect on any following uses.
Basicallyyes it is a need to know for snybody that wants to be an informed & involved Citizen of the United States of America.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Erik
  • 14-03-19

This One’s a Keeper!

Well documented, researched, and presented. This book is the perfect course on a history of presidential impeachment.

I felt the historical information was presented factually and with objectivity, even regarding the present analysis of Trump.

Fred Sanders performed this well.

I already purchased a hard copy of this book to keep as a reference in my personal library as a result of enjoying this audio book so much.

3 people found this helpful

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  • Robert A. Raymond
  • 25-10-19

very informative.

Given the current news cycle, This is a must listen. For those of us that need to brush up on the meaning of impeachment, and the few times it has been used in our history. There is only one question that is not answered in this book. If a president is impeached, and convicted, can he run for the office again if the impeachment occurs in his first term?

2 people found this helpful

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  • Benn
  • 08-10-19

LISTEN TO THIS NOW.

This could not be more relevant. All Americans should listen as soon as they can.

2 people found this helpful