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Notable new books for the policy-minded

By Josh Richman
Monday, September 21st, 2009 at 1:40 pm in books, General.

Sometimes an interesting new public-policy title crosses my desk, and from now on I’ll be making more of an effort to share them with you…

The Road to Yucca Mountain: The Development of Radioactive Waste Policy in the United States,” by J. Samuel Walker (University of California Press, $34.95) – Walker, the historian of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, chronicles the technical, environmental and political problems with storing the byproducts of nuclear energy. Some of it’s pretty technical, but it’s worth wading through his account of the underlying science, the newest research and the politics and policy behind the issue.

Dispatches from Juvenile Hall: Fixing a Failing System,” by John Aarons, Lisa Smith and Linda Wagner (Penguin Books, $15) – The authors, all with the Lane County, Ore., Department of Youth Services, delve into how “tough on crime” just doesn’t cut it when it comes to juvenile justice. Some of the real stories are harrowing, and their suggestions for a mix of punitive action, rehabilitation and family intervention is a good template for discussion of reform.

Louis D. Brandeis: A Life,” by Melvin I. Urofsky (Pantheon, $40) – Urofsky, a Virginia Commonwealth University professor of law and public policy and professor emeritus of history, offers up 756 pages (not counting 142 more of notes and citations!) on progressive reformer and crusading attorney turned U.S. Supreme Court justice. It might be a tad heavy for the casual reader, but it’s a well-written and detailed (definitive?) account of the man who perhaps did more than anyone else in developing the right to privacy and mounted key defenses of the freedom of speech.

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