T is for Treason is a brief guide to the history of treason in high places in the United States, from Benedict Arnold to the present. Nine chapters endeavor to show links between past and present attacks on our democracy as well as “current threats from our fellow citizens.”
The book can be divided into two basic parts: A look at treason in the past and allegations of treason in modern times. A discussion on the topic based in Article III, Section 3 of the United States Constitution and how the crime of treason became federal law is included. What follows is a definition of “treason,” its evolution in law, and a discussion of “treason” from colonial days to the modern era.
A look into the distant past starts with the case on North Carolinian William Bruce Mumford, the only American ever executed for treason. This occurred during the Civil War. The text also details how violent group actions that do not constitute a challenge to government were later treated as “riots,” not necessarily treason. Examples cited include the Whiskey Rebellion of 1791. A discussion of additional persons charged with treason who avoided prosecution for same is included. Some names will be familiar. Others won’t.
The author notes there have been “very few” convictions for Federal treason. However, several Americans have been “charged and convicted or threatened with charges of treason, but not executed” (emphasis in original). These include Aldrich Ames, Robert Hanssen, and Walter Kendall Myers.
Carefully constructed and structurally sound, the first part of this book is the strongest. Rich in background, research, and historical detail, it outlines the definition, evolution, examples, and history of treason and/or treasonous activity in the United States.
Unfortunately, the second half goes right off the rails.
Here, it seems that “treason” is limited to one side of the political aisle. This is evident in that every example of “treason” or alleged treasonous activity by a president or other elected in modern times is levelled at Republicans. So what might have been a solid scholarly work on the topic is hamstrung by a distinct animus towards Republicans in general and Donald Trump in particular.
Curiously, the author can’t seem to resist taking pot shots at one side of the aisle while ignoring the other. Thoughtful readers may find this peculiar. For example, one chapter alleges that “Republicans reveal their worst fears” per coordinated talking points. Republicans, according to the text, pull out these coordinated talking points when they want to cloud or otherwise obscure the news cycle. This strategy “Works very well on people who are easily manipulated by authoritarian personalities.”
Regarding Donald Trump and January 6, the author surmises that Trump probably intended to incite an insurrection in order to use same “as a pretext to declaring martial law.” He continues, saying that in so doing, Trump could “seize voting machines, close down the Electoral College procedure and send Joe Biden back to Delaware. When we put, he (sic) pieces together it tends to remove some of the mystery. Trump would be King.” (Sources cited for the chapter on Trump include Politico, Vanity Fair, and the Pima County Democratic Party.)
The next to last chapter is titled The Enemy Within. Perhaps a more accurate heading would be, Republicans Are The Enemy. For example, the text refers to a video ad on You Tube related to the Republican “Moscow 8.” The ad labels the Republican Party The Party of Treason a la Russia. But apparently Russian influence isn’t limited to the Republican Party. Fox TV, Tulsi Gabbard, “Republican white American evangelical Christians,” QAnon, and Ginni Thomas also allegedly fall into this category.
The final chapter includes a brief summary of prior material. It concludes with a call to “… take action to make sure those responsible are made accountable and remove from power those who abuse that power by acts of treason.”
Although the narrative is briskly paced and nimble, this book seems to have an agenda per the second half. Multiple pejorative comments and frequent sniping at one party reveal that agenda. Moreover, repeatedly plastering the “T” label on one side of the aisle while ignoring the other strains credulity. Hence, if “T” is for treason, then “P” is for partisan. Sadly, too much of this book falls into the latter category. Some may find it little more than an anti-Republican rant.
So if you’re looking for a serious discussion of the “T” topic, keep looking.