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Only seven U.S. public officials have been impeached (defined as an indictment returned by the House, which may then lead to a trial before the Senate) and convicted under the Constitution. Bancroft Prize winner Kyvig (history, Northern Illinois Univ.; Explicit and Authentic Acts: Amending the U.S. Constitution, 1776-1995) discusses the revival of this procedure in recent decades. After briefly covering earlier efforts, Kyvig examines the John Birch Society's crusade against Chief Justice Earl Warren. Most impeachments are judicial-every successful one has removed a judge-but what qualifies as impeachable? "Treason, Bribery, or other high Crimes and Misdemeanors," says the Constitution. "Whatever a majority of the House" says, according to Gerald Ford when he pursued William O. Douglas. Sometimes it's not mysterious, as with three judges impeached in the 1980s, two of whom were in federal prison when removed. But what of cases like President Bill Clinton? Did his acts rise to "high Crimes and Misdemeanors"? While the Clinton case is well documented elsewhere, most of Kyvig's stories are not; some are almost unknown. Kyvig is that rarity, an academic who can write well and accessibly. Scholarly, thorough, immensely readable, and highly recommended for all libraries.
—Michael O. Eshleman