Working largely from congressional testimony and private depositions, Draper ( Abuse of Power ) reconstructs the Iran-Contra affair, showing how a handful of little-known officials, in defiance of the law and without the knowledge of any other branch of government, took control of U.S. foreign policy. The study adds thinly to what we already know about President Reagan's (and then-vice-president Bush's) knowledge of and involvement in the arms-for-hostages deal and the diversion of funds, but Draper's scholarly efforts deepen our understanding of other major elements of the affair: for example, the exclusion of secretaries of State and Defense Schultz and Weinberger after January 1986, the role of CIA director William Casey, and the administration's attempt to shift blame for its Iran policy to the Israelis. This is the fullest and most authoritative account to date of the usurpation of power by a small, strategically placed group of insiders--lieutenant colonel North, admiral Poindexter et al.--and is also an instructive exploration of the line that separates the legitimate from the illegitimate exercise of power. Photos. BOMC alternate. (June)
Veteran writer Draper has reconstructed from the voluminous documentary records the Washington connection that linked the arms sales to Khomeini's Iran with the support of the anti-Sandinista forces in Nicaragua. With keen analytical insight, he seeks out ``a very thin line'' that ``separates'' the legitimate from the illegitimate exercise of power in our government'' and portrays these tangled events as ``symptomatic of a far deeper disorder in the American body politic,'' a disorder based on the assumption of ``a president almighty in foreign policy.'' While Stephen Kinzer's Blood of Brothers ( LJ 3/15/91) and Joseph P. Persico's The Lives and Secrets of William J. Casey: from the OSS to the CIA ( LJ 10/1/90) cover specific aspects of these events, Draper's work will stand as the definitive source on the constitutional consequences of the Iran-Contra affairs for decades to come. Highly recommended. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/91.-- James Rhodes, Luther Coll., Decorah, Ia.