July 22, 2009

Law, Literature, and Presidential Advice

Harold H. Bruff's new book Bad Advice: Bush's Lawyers in the War on Terror (University of Kansas Press, 2009) begins with a chapter that should delight law and humanities devotees. It discusses some famous political advisors in literature and their interactions with their leaders: for example, Shakespeare's Archbishop of Canterbury and Henry V, and Robert Bolt's Sir (or Saint--it depends on whether or not you're Catholic, I suppose) Thomas More and Henry VIII.

Notes Dr. Bruff, "[E]xecutive advisers feel great pressure to make decisions that serve both the law and the nation. Sir Thomas More became a saint (Canterbury and Wolsey did not). It would not be prudent, however, to expect saintliness as a routine virtue among executive advisers, or among the senior officials who are their clients. What behaviors, then should we expect--and demand--of the lawyers as they serve their insistent clients?"

Harold Bruff is Charles Inglis Thomson Professor of Law at the University of Colorado Law School.

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