Impeachment Book Summary - Impeachment Book explained in key points
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Impeachment summary

Jeffrey A. Engel, Jon Meacham, Timothy Naftali and Peter Baker

An American History

4.2 (38 ratings)
19 mins

Brief summary

Impeachment by Jeffrey A. Engel, Jon Meacham, Timothy Naftali and Peter Baker is a historical account of the impeachment of former US President Donald Trump, drawing parallels to past impeachments and exploring its impact on American democracy.

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    Despite their fear of monarchs, the Framers recognized that an executive branch was necessary to manage chaos. 

    Remember how great it was when you finally moved out of your parents’ house and were free of their tyrannical rules? And then how scary it was when you realized you now had to be an adult? That was America right after it won the Revolutionary War against the British. For a while, the brand-new country was not doing great with all its independence.

    Chaos ruled in the aftermath of the war. The makeshift political system that emerged wasn’t working for anyone. Governed mainly by legislatures, many post-revolution states descended toward mob rule. In order to keep their seats, legislators were forced to act in a way that would please, rather than benefit, the people. 

    Even worse, Americans were now fighting each other over the same issues they’d just fought the British. Over the winter of 1786, there was a battle in Massachusetts between backcountry farmers and private militias funded by Boston elites over who had the right to impose and collect taxes. 

    Concentrating power in just one person, as in a monarch or other executive, was also still a controversial idea in post-revolution America. Fourth president James Madison worried that “many individuals of weight,” desperate for stability, were advocating for a return to monarchy, an obviously flawed but familiar system. Other communities experimented with removing executive power altogether, such as the states of Pennsylvania and New Jersey. 

    Someone had to make some rules – and fast. The Founding Fathers gathered in Philadelphia in July 1787 to hammer out a system of government, in a meeting known as the Constitutional Congress.

    Forced to reconsider their radically pro-legislature positions, and fearful of the softening public stance toward monarchy, the Founding Fathers realized they would need to develop an executive position after all. They needed to make the government more efficient, to whip the legislature into shape, and to represent the unified will of the people, rather than just one group of constituents. This position would become the presidency.

    But there was also trepidation at the idea. Looking back at Europe’s long history of despotic, self-serving kings and emperors, they worried about whether putting so much power in one person’s hands would have a corrupting influence on the president. To avoid what seemed to them like an inevitability, the Framers came up with a way for the legislature to safeguard against corrupt executives in the future. This became the process we know as impeachment.

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    What is Impeachment about?

    Impeachment (2018) details how the Framers of the US Constitution envisioned the process of removing a president, and how the three impeachment proceedings prior to Trump’s have played out. Spanning the years right after the American Revolution to the late twentieth century, Impeachment looks at how the Framers imagined impeachment as a safety valve for democracy, as well as how Congress used impeachment to sanction Presidents Andrew Johnson, Richard Nixon, and Bill Clinton. 

    Impeachment Review

    Impeachment (2018) is a comprehensive examination of the history, politics, and consequences of impeachment in the United States. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers a balanced and well-researched analysis, providing readers with a deep understanding of the topic.
    • The book explores multiple presidential impeachments throughout history, offering valuable insights into the political workings of the nation.
    • Written by a team of eminent scholars and journalists, the book combines extensive knowledge with accessible prose, making it engaging and compelling.

    Best quote from Impeachment

    An impeachable offense is whatever a majority of the House of Representatives considers it to be at a given moment in history. – President Gerald Ford

    —Jeffrey A. Engel, Jon Meacham, Timothy Naftali and Peter Baker
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    Who should read Impeachment?

    • News junkies who’ve read every think piece about the Trump impeachment
    • History hounds obsessed with the American experiment 
    • Anyone looking for a better grasp on current US affairs

    About the Author

    Jeffrey A. Engel, Jon Meacham, and Timothy Naftali are lauded authors and presidential historians; Peter Baker is the chief White House correspondent for the New York Times. Collectively they have founded presidential history scholarly research centers, run presidential libraries, authored several dozen books about presidents and international history, and won numerous awards, including the Pulitzer Prize.

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    Impeachment FAQs 

    What is the main message of Impeachment?

    The main message of Impeachment is to understand the historical context and significance of impeachment in American politics.

    How long does it take to read Impeachment?

    The reading time for Impeachment varies and depends on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is Impeachment a good book? Is it worth reading?

    Impeachment is a valuable read for anyone interested in U.S. history and the impeachment process. It provides insightful analysis and thought-provoking perspectives.

    Who is the author of Impeachment?

    The authors of Impeachment are Jeffrey A. Engel, Jon Meacham, Timothy Naftali, and Peter Baker.

    What to read after Impeachment?

    If you're wondering what to read next after Impeachment, here are some recommendations we suggest:
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    • The Burnout Society by Byung-Chul Han
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    • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald