On Treason

A Citizen's Guide to the Law

by Carlton F. W. Larson

On Sale: 09/29/2020

On Treason

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On Treason

A Citizen's Guide to the Law

by Carlton F. W. Larson

On Sale: 09/29/2020


About the Book

A concise, accessible, and engaging guide to the law of treason, written by the nation’s foremost expert on the subject


The only crime defined in the United States Constitution, treason is routinely described by judges as more heinous than murder. Today the term is regularly thrown around by lawmakers and pundits on both sides of the aisle. But as these heated accusations flood the news cycle, it’s not always clear what the crime of treason truly is, or when it should be prosecuted. 

Drawing on over two decades of research, constitutional law and legal history scholar Carlton Larson takes us on a grand tour of the Treason Clause of the United States Constitution. Despite the Clause’s apparent simplicity, Larson demonstrates that it is a form of constitutional quicksand in which seemingly obvious intuitions are often far off the mark. From the floors of the medieval British Parliament that codified the Statute of Treasons upon which the American law was based to the treason of Benedict Arnold, our nation’s founding traitor, to more recent events, including WWII’s “Tokyo Rose” and the allegations against Edward Snowden and Donald Trump, Larson provides a riveting account of treason law in action.

On Treason is an indispensable guide for anyone who wants to understand this fundamental aspect of our legal system. With this short, accessible look at the law’s history and meaning, Larson clarifies who is actually guilty—and readers won’t need a law degree to understand why.

Educator and Librarian Resources

Critical Praise

"With clarity and grace, Carlton Larson reminds us that treason is a legal concept with an important history from the Revolution through the War on Terror.  Engaging, elegant, and refreshingly sane, On Treason dares to suggest that the crime’s narrow contours and difficult evidentiary hurdles enhance our democracy.  Our political opponents are almost certainly not traitors—Larson delivers this hard truth, which offers a first step to a more perfect Union." - Daniel J. Sharfstein, author of Thunder in the Mountains: Chief Joseph, Oliver Otis Howard, and the Nez Perce War

“Carlton Larson has pulled off a small miracle, writing a terrific and timely book that is both informative and a joy to read. He explains the law of treason in crystal-clear prose. And he brings the law to life with vivid and fascinating stories of America's most notorious traitors.  On Treason is a must-read for anyone who wants to understand what treason means—and doesn't mean—in this fraught political moment.” - Thomas Healy, author of The Great Dissent: How Oliver Wendell Holmes Changed His Mindand Changed the History of Free Speech in America.

“In these hyperpartisan, polarized times, as charges of treason fly thick and fast, it’s essential to remember how the Framers of our Constitution defined that crime—and why. This indispensable book brings much-needed clarity to the subject and reaffirms a fundamental truth of our constitutional design: there is such a thing as the loyal opposition.” - Kermit Roosevelt, Professor of Law, University of Pennsylvania Law School and author of In the Shadow of the Law


Product Details

  • ISBN: 9780062996169
  • ISBN 10: 0062996169
  • Imprint: Ecco
  • On Sale: 09/29/2020
  • Pages: 304
  • List Price:34.99 CAD
  • BISAC1 : LAW / Legal History
  • BISAC2 : LAW / Criminal Law / General
  • BISAC3 : HISTORY / United States / General

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