A War Like No Other

The Constitution in a Time of Terror

The renowned legal scholar’s assessment of the enduring legacy of 9/11 on our body of laws

“Fiss is one of the truly magisterial figures in contemporary American legal academics. He commands nearly universal respect for the depth and lucidity of his intellect, for the integrity and passion of his character, and for the breadth and purity of his scholarship.” —Robert Post, dean of Yale Law School

Owen Fiss has been a leading legal scholar for over thirty years, yet before 2001 it would have seemed unlikely for him to write about national security and the laws of war—his focus was civil procedure and equal protection—but when the War on Terror began to shroud legal proceedings in secrecy, he realized that the bulwarks of procedure that shield the individual from the awesome power of the state were dissolving, perhaps irreparably, and it was time for him to speak up.

The ten chapters in this volume cover the major legal battlefronts of the War on Terror from Guantánamo to drones, with a focus on the constitutional implications of those new tools. The underlying theme is Fiss’s concern for the offense done to the U.S. Constitution by the administrative and legislative branches of government in the name of public safety and the refusal of the judiciary to hold the government accountable. A War Like No Other will be an essential intellectual foundation for all concerned about constitutional rights and the law in a new age.


“A civic education in the virtues of government according to law.”
—David Dyzenhaus, professor of law and philosophy, University of Toronto, and Arthur Goodhart Visiting Professor of Legal Science, University of Cambridge
“Owen Fiss has written an important and troubling book.”
—Joshua Cohen, co-editor, The Norton Introduction to Philosophy
“In these extremely relevant pieces, Fiss once again emerges as a fierce defender of freedom.”
Kirkus Reviews
“Fiss provides an uncompromising critique of America’s struggle to maintain its most fundamental principles during the war on terrorism. Over the course of ten essays, Fiss makes a compelling case for how policies such as military commissions, targeted killing, torture, and warrantless surveillance have exposed rifts in the constitutional fabric. An essential contribution from one of the country’s foremost legal scholars.”
—Jonathan Hafetz, associate professor of law, Seton Hall University
“Does the Constitution authorize the U.S. government to interfere with privacy, to torture, to try some prisoners before military commissions and to allow others to languish in prison for prolonged, indefinite periods without a trial of any type, and to assassinate some individuals in foreign countries, even U.S. citizens, who are suspected of having engaged in terrorism? Fiss opens a wide-ranging debate on these issues that is crucial for the United States and for billions of persons outside its borders.”
—Luis Moreno Ocampo, first Chief Prosecutor of the International Criminal Court
“Owen Fiss is the moral compass of legal liberalism. . . . Fiss calmly makes the case for unvarnished reason as the only and best guide to law and life. . . . [His work reveals] a profound faith that law can be not only the instrument of justice, but actually embody justice itself. Fiss’s unswerving commitment to the possibilities of reason, justice, and law is more than timely—it is essential to the very project of the law.”
—Noah Feldman, author of After Jihad: America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy
“Fiss is one of our most clear-eyed and hard-edged constitutional analysts, and this critique of the damage done to our constitutional heritage in the name of waging a war on terror is the most devastating I have seen.”
—Stanley N. Katz, professor of public and international affairs, Woodrow Wilson School, Princeton University
“Fiss, a towering figure in the legal academy, brilliantly lays bare how our courts have failed the Constitution in the post-9-11 world.”
—Lawrence Douglas, James J. Grosfeld Professor of Law, Jurisprudence, and Social Thought, Amherst College

Goodreads Reviews