Reining In the State by Katherine A. Scott

Katherine A. Scott’s Reining In the State: Civil Society and Congress in the Vietnam and Watergate Eras (University Press of Kansas, 248 pp., $34.95), is a well-written look at a group of good-government types who used “judicial, legislative  and civic oversight of the executive branch” to bring to light and challenge Presidents Johnson and Nixon’s expansion of the government’s domestic surveillance during the Vietnam War era. 

Scott, the U.S. Senate’s Assistant Historian, focuses on a handful of politicians, journalists, and military men who worked within the system to throw light on these illegal infringements of individual private rights and to “rein in the state.” That group includes  Washington Post editor Russ Wiggins, Rep. John Moss and Sen. Sam Ervin (of Watergate fame), Army Captain Christopher Pyle, American Civil Liberties Union Director Aryeh Neier, and Morton Halperin, a former National Security Council staffer in the Nixon White House.

Scott calls these men “unsung heroes who battled to reinvigorate judicial, legislative, and civic oversight of the executive branch to prevent abuses by government agencies in the future.”

—Marc Leepson