Jamie Mayerfeld’s The Promise of Human Rights is a thoughtful, insightful, and carefully argued book. It powerfully defends the important idea that democracy is not just whatever a majority decides (190–7). It deftly narrates the story of U.S. exceptionalism with respect to human rights, specifying that story at an impressive level of granularity that makes the real legal and institutional meaning and repercussions of exceptionalism clearer than other accounts typically manage to do (Chapters 4&5). Most significantly, it makes a compelling case for the constraining role played by European institutions in the post-9/11 context with respect to limiting the use of torture and increasing accountability for torture when it did occur (Chapter 3). In short, The Promise of Human Rights is an important book, one that democratic theorists, human rights scholars, international lawyers, and students of American exceptionalism will all find valuable and provocative.
The core empirical chapters of...
- Alexander, Michelle. 2010. The new Jim Crow: Mass incarceration in the age of colorblindness. New York: The New Press.Google Scholar