Publishing ‘After Trump’

David Priess, Benjamin Wittes
Wednesday, September 16, 2020, 12:38 PM

Why we published After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency, the latest book by Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith. 

Published by The Lawfare Institute
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Less than a month ago, we announced that Lawfare would be publishing a book. This week, it arrived: “After Trump: Reconstructing the Presidency” by Bob Bauer and Jack Goldsmith is now available for ordering both as a Kindle ebook and as a paperback:


Yesterday, the authors posted on this site a brief description of their experience writing “After Trump.” We’d like to pick up from there to share with you our thoughts about Lawfare’s decision to publish it—and a peek into that process.

Lawfare is not, of course, a book publisher, as a general matter. But when Bob and Jack spoke with us many months ago about the project they envisioned, we had no doubt that publishing it was a central part of Lawfare’s mission. We are, after all, a site devoted to hard national security choices in a variety of different forms: short articles, longer papers, podcasts. Why not a book filled with rich descriptions of relevant presidential history and systemic appraisals of Donald Trump’s actions in office across various issue areas, paired with more than 50 concrete proposals for reform? It seems like just what the country needs this fall. And doing serious scholarship on such matters at the speed of journalism is what Lawfare is for. 

Our decision to publish “After Trump” was also spurred by a specific problem Bob and Jack faced: Their manuscript wouldn’t be done until late summer, and to be maximally useful, the book needed to come out very quickly. Traditional mass-market and academic publishers typically avoid working with such a quick turnaround time. Yes, a publisher in exceptional cases can get a file, line up a printer, and put out an insta-book quickly; think of the Mueller report. But such projects typically require little or no substantive editing or copyediting and no rounds of back-and-forth revisions with the authors. 

This project would require such care. It has almost 400 pages of original text, excluding notes. We wanted to get it onto people’s bookshelves in weeks, not months. And just as importantly, we wanted it to stay there for years. 

Does that mean the Lawfare Press now seeks book submissions, to expand this experiment into a publishing behemoth with a robust slate of new titles every year? Far from it. “After Trump” is, as you will understand when you read it, an exceptional book from exceptional authors for an exceptional moment. A similar alignment of stars may well occur again, but it won’t happen often.

The goal for this book remains that of the site, of our podcasts, and of our other media: bringing to an ever-wider audience serious scholarship and insight at the nexus of national security, law and policy, yet doing so at a speed that others will not contemplate. 

We hope you find “After Trump” as compelling to read as we found it to work on. 

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David Priess is Director of Intelligence at Bedrock Learning, Inc. and a Senior Fellow at the Michael V. Hayden Center for Intelligence, Policy, and International Security. He served during the Clinton and Bush 43 administrations as a CIA officer and has written two books: “The President’s Book of Secrets,” about the top-secret President’s Daily Brief, and "How To Get Rid of a President," describing the ways American presidents have left office.
Benjamin Wittes is editor in chief of Lawfare and a Senior Fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution. He is the author of several books.

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