Allow Me to Retort

A Black Guy’s Guide to the Constitution

The New York Times bestseller that has cemented Elie Mystal’s reputation as one of our sharpest and most acerbic legal minds

“After reading Allow Me to Retort, I want Elie Mystal to explain everything I don’t understand—quantum astrophysics, the infield fly rule, why people think Bob Dylan is a good singer . . .” —Michael Harriot, The Root

Finalist, ABA Silver Gavel Award for Books

When Elie Mystal went on The View to discuss the hardcover of Allow Me to Retort and called the Constitution “trash,” the internet exploded. Media from Newsweek to Black News Tonight covered it, and the book shot up bestsellers lists at the New York Times,, Amazon, and elsewhere.

Now this “pugnacious and entertaining critique of conservative interpretations of the Constitution” (Publishers Weekly) is available in an affordable paperback edition. In chapters ranging from “Why You Can’t Punch a Cop” and “It’s Not Unusual to Be Cruel” to “Everything You Know About the Second Amendment Is Wrong” and “The Abortion Chapter,” the legal commentator that Samantha Bee calls “irrepressible and righteously indignant” weighs in on every hot-button issue facing the country (and the Supreme Court) today. As the New York Journal of Books observed, “It is impossible to enjoy reading the Constitution more than through the searing perspective of the brilliant Twainesque humor of Elie Mystal in Allow Me to Retort.

Called “the funniest lawyer in America” by Matt Levine of Bloomberg Opinion, Mystal brings the same tactics he uses to defend the idea of a fair and equal society on MSNBC and CNN to what Washington Lawyer calls a “witty, profane, and well-argued” book that lays bare the truth of the Republican project to keep America forever tethered to its slaveholding past.


“Fantastic . . . such a great combination of fury, righteous indignation, humor, and incredible erudition and brilliance.”
—Chris Hayes, host of “Why Is This Happening?” podcast, MSNBC
“A pugnacious and entertaining critique of conservative interpretations of the Constitution. . . . Buttressed by Mystal’s caustic wit and accessible legal theories, this fiery takedown hits the mark.”
Publishers Weekly
“Essential reading for people who think that you need to go to law school to understand our founding documents, and the perfect guidebook for Americans who want to understand how our country is supposed to work.”
—Zerlina Maxwell, MSNBC analyst and author of The End of White Politics
“Elie Mystal is the funniest lawyer in America. Allow Me to Retort is brisk and brutal, sharply argued, full of both laugh-out-loud lines and righteous fury.”
—Matt Levine, “Money Stuff” columnist, Bloomberg Opinion
“A tour de force from the Explainer-in-Chief of American law! Mystal’s sharp wit entertains and educates about some of the greatest misconceptions of Constitutional scholarship and travesties in American justice.”
—Malcolm Nance, bestselling author of The Plot to Hack America
“It is impossible to enjoy reading the Constitution more than through the searing perspective of the brilliant Twainesque humor of Elie Mystal in Allow Me to Retort.”
New York Journal of Books
“I loved this book very much . . . chapter nine, ‘The Taking of Black Land’ was [a] favorite of mine and ‘Reverse Racism Is Not a Thing’ . . . is fantastic.”
—Sunny Hostin, co-host of The View and author of Summer on the Bluffs
“There’s something to learn on every page. . . . A reading of the Constitution that all social justice advocates should study.”
Kirkus Reviews (starred review)
“I loved Allow Me to Retort. It’s a powerful and important book of brightly alive ideas. Mystal deconstructs tired arguments and failed positions with his signature intelligence, humor, grace, and extraordinary wit. His big brain, bright ideas and fierce advocacy for what is right are an antidote to the poison of our current political system.”
—Don Winslow, bestselling author of The Border
“In Elie Mystal, we, the people, have a smart and funny legal pugilist. Allow Me to Retort is the people’s guide to today’s battles over the use, misuse, and abuse of the Constitution, and how we can actually secure justice for all.”
—Dan Berger, professor of comparative ethnic studies, University of Washington, and author of Rethinking the American Prison Movement
“This witty, profane, and well-argued book makes a strong case for recognizing the flaws in our founding document and doing what we can to fix it.”
Washington Lawyer

News and Reviews


Read "The Abortion Chapter" from Allow Me to Retort to learn more about the Supreme Court's history on reproductive rights.

The Nation

Read an excerpt from Allow Me to Retort in The Nation.

The View

Watch an interview with author Elie Mystal on The View.

Kirkus Reviews

Read a starred review of Elie Mystal’s Allow Me to Retort in Kirkus Reviews.

Goodreads Reviews