Allegiance: A Novel

Allegiance: A Novel

5.0 2
by Kermit Roosevelt

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A sophisticated legal thriller that plunges readers into the debate within the US government surrounding the imprisonment of thousands of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

When the news broke about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Caswell “Cash” Harrison was all set to drop out of law school and join the army... until he flunked the


A sophisticated legal thriller that plunges readers into the debate within the US government surrounding the imprisonment of thousands of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

When the news broke about the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, Caswell “Cash” Harrison was all set to drop out of law school and join the army... until he flunked the physical. Instead, he’s given the opportunity to serve as a clerk to Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black. He and another clerk stumble onto a potentially huge conspiracy aimed at guiding the court’s interests, and the cases dealing with the constitutionality of the prison camps created to detain Japanese-Americans seem to play a key part. Then Cash’s colleague dies under mysterious circumstances, and the young, idealistic lawyer is determined to get at the truth. His investigation will take him from the office of J. Edgar Hoover to an internment camp in California, where he directly confronts the consequences of America’s wartime policies. Kermit Roosevelt combines the momentum of a top-notch legal thriller with a thoughtful examination of one of the worst civil rights violations in US history in this long-awaited follow-up to In the Shadow of the Law.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
★ 09/21/2015
This sophisticated, multi-textured novel from Roosevelt (In the Shadow of the Law) works both as a thriller to rival the best of Stephen Carter and as an insightful look at one of America's darkest historical moments. After the Japanese attack Pearl Harbor, law student Caswell "Cash" Harrison attempts to enlist, but his flat feet disqualify him. Fortunately for Cash, Supreme Court justice Hugo Black has an opening for a law clerk. At first, Cash finds it dull to decide which petitions the justices should consider accepting for appeal, but then a colleague suggests that someone is manipulating what ends up on the docket, and Cash is placed under surveillance. Cash also gets involved in the internal court debate on the military's decision to relocate Japanese Americans on the West Coast, a move that swept up citizens who were clearly loyal to the country but was justified on national security grounds. The plot twists are both genuinely surprising and logical, and Roosevelt is subtle in illustrating how the liberty vs. security tensions of the 1940s foreshadow those of the post-9/11 era. Agent: Victoria Skurnick, Levine Greenberg Literary Agency. (Aug.)
Betrayed and Keep Quiet - Lisa Scottoline
“The perfect melding of the times of a young man and the times of a young country, as both struggle to delineate the parameters of justice during war... No one else but the immensely talented Kermit Roosevelt could have written Allegiance, and I cannot recommend it more highly.”
Nelson DeMille
"My favorite World War II historical novel was Herman Wouk's The Winds of War. Now I have two favorites. Kermit Roosevelt's Allegiance is an instant classic."
The Pale Blue Eye - Louis Bayard
“An insider’s view of a world at war, a rogue’s gallery with real-life rogues, an exploration of the limits of American idealism, Kermit Roosevelt’s Allegiance is also just a damn good yarn. It keeps you flipping pages even as it artfully and fruitfully complicates your understanding of the way we were. This is historical fiction as it should be.”
The Never List - Koethi Zan
“Deftly written and carefully observed, Allegiance is an ingenious blend of history and imagination. Roosevelt’s novel vividly portrays a pivotal time in America’s past, luring the reader through a clever plot in which the very fate of the nation’s honor is at stake.”
The Conjurer and Deception's Daughter - Cordelia Frances Biddle
“A riveting tale of murder and conspiracy within the highest echelons of government in WW II Washington, D.C.”
Wall Street Journal - David Lat
“[Allegiance] excels as an introduction to American wartime history. It paints meticulous portraits of the Washington legal world, Philadelphia high society and the West Coast internment camps.… The profound questions that it raises—about the powers of the president in times of war, the tensions between liberty and security, and the role of the courts in resolving those tensions—remain as important in today’s threat-filled world as they were some three quarters of a century ago.”
Bitter Empire - Anniken Davenport
“A marvelous and timely new legal thriller about a defining national moment … fast moving and intelligent ... Highly recommended.”
WAMC "Northeast Public Radio" - Joe Donahue
“Combines the momentum of a top-notch legal thriller with a thoughtful examination of one of the worst civil rights violations in US history in Allegiance: A Novel.”
Jay Strafford
"Roosevelt paints a disturbing picture of Washington at war as a place driven by patriotism and principle — and by cynicism and greed... a splendid, troubling and authoritative novel, conceived with a vision that sees beyond the years and resonates in the present day."
Kirkus Reviews
In Roosevelt's (In the Shadow of the Law, 2005) latest, the Axis attacks, and newly minted attorney Cash Harrison learns that too many powerful people think the " Constitution just a scrap of paper." With a world war raging, many Americans believe it's justified to confine Japanese-Americans to detention camps: "The interests of the individual must be weighed against the needs of national security." Harrison is from an old Main Line Philadelphia family, sufficiently acquainted with the right people—people who might say about an artist that he "made Christ look too Jewish"—to be unknowingly classified 4-F and then offered a slot as a Supreme Court clerk. Harrison finds that it's the clerks' job to read the many petitions for certiorari and help the justices decide which cases to hear. And it's not long before he believes his fellow clerk Gene Gressman is right in suspecting someone is "manipulating the court" via the clerks. Then Gressman's found dead, his frail heart blamed, and Harrison is afraid he was killed because of the internment cases. He wants to find the truth and so asks Attorney General Francis Biddle, another Main Line denizen, for work at the Alien Enemies Control Unit. The plot is a Russian matryoshka, layered and deceptive. The decision to intern Japanese-Americans, "made in good faith for the safety of the nation," could be linked to profits made by "acquiring Japanese land." Historical characters such as Biddle, Secretary of War Henry Stimson, and justices Hugo Black and Felix Frankfurter arrive on the page arrogant, patronizing, and elitist, making for a depressing (and perhaps overly long) tale lightened only by Harrison finding honor, and love, in a San Francisco court hearing. A Kafkaesque political drama as allegory for America's blind quest for absolute safety from international terrorism while "the interests of capital" profit from paranoia.

Product Details

Regan Arts.
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Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.40(d)

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Meet the Author

Kermit Roosevelt is a professor of constitutional law at the University of Pennsylvania Law School. Born in Washington, DC, he attended Harvard University and Yale Law School. Before joining the Penn faculty, he clerked for DC Circuit Judge Stephen F. Williams and Supreme Court Justice David Souter, and practiced law in Chicago. His experiences clerking and practicing law informed his first novel, the national campus bestseller In the Shadow of the Law (FSG, 2005).

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Allegiance 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am fascinated by world war II accounts. This novel blends facts with fiction and brings out an understanding of war injustices, our reactive fears, the inevitable profiteering and rollicking politics. It is a convoluted thriller and a page turner, the language and musing quite often poetic. It is a thought provoking read and I am enthralled by it. Highly recommended
LoisLong More than 1 year ago
This is a brilliant book. Written in lyrical prose, it’s a powerful story that stays with you long after you’ve read the last page and changes you in a profound way. While it’s a book of historical fiction and the author masterfully recaptures America in the 1940s, it’s relevant to the world we live in today and makes us rethink who we are and who we want to be. Inspiring. The main character, Cash Harrison, immediately draws you into his world and keeps you turning the page as the story unfolds into a mystery that’s packed with surprises and astonishing events that are actually true. Cash begins as a young idealistic lawyer who’s given the opportunity to clerk for Supreme Court Justice Hugo Black just after the attack on Pearl Harbor, a time that very much parallels post 9/11 America. Compelled to serve his country, he leaves his home and girlfriend in Philadelphia to go to Washington, DC where he ultimately finds himself caught in a maze of murder, lies, and corruption. He’s alone in his journey to get to the truth; his girlfriend is unsupportive and pressures him to come home, those of his inner circle are not to be trusted, and danger lies at every turn. Cash finally discovers a government conspiracy surrounding Japanese American internment --when FDR gave the order to imprison 120,000 U.S. citizens (most of whom were innocent) because of their ethnicity – and his idealistic view of Washington, DC and the Supreme Court is forever changed. Those of his privileged inner circle put personal gain before principles and law – and he seems to be the only person in power who cares enough to stop the devastating injustice. How far will he go to stand by his principles? Will he be loyal to those of his inner circle or be true to his belief in fairness and equal justice for all? Roosevelt’s research is impressive: he brings Hugo Black and J. Edgar to life and astutely examines Supreme Court cases and the inner workings of government in a way that’s eminently readable to all. It’s as much a legal thriller as it is a thoughtful reflection on American ideals and moral goodness – a masterpiece that you’ll want to read again and again. Allegiance is a true American story with an unforgettable hero. Suspenseful – illuminating --and transformative – Kermit Roosevelt is one of the great writers of our generation.