Sam Lebovic

Jan 12, 2024

State of Silence

The Espionage Act and the Rise of America's Secrecy Regime

Basic Books 2023

In State of Silence: The Espionage Act and the Rise of America's Secrecy Regime (Basic Books, 2023), political historian Dr. Sam Lebovic uncovers the troubling history of the Espionage Act. First passed in 1917, it was initially used to punish critics of World War I. Yet as Americans began to baulk at the act’s restrictions on political dissidents and the press, the government turned its focus toward keeping its secrets under wraps. The resulting system for classifying information is absurdly cautious, staggeringly costly, and shrouded in secrecy, preventing ordinary Americans from learning what their country is doing in their name, both at home and abroad.

Shedding new light on the bloated governmental security apparatus that’s weighing our democracy down, State of Silence offers the definitive history of America’s turn toward secrecy—and its staggering human costs.  

This interview was conducted by Dr. Miranda Melcher whose forthcoming book focuses on post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with qualitative analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.

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Miranda Melcher

Miranda Melcher (Ph.D., Defense Studies, Kings College, London) studies post-conflict military integration, understanding treaty negotiation and implementation in civil war contexts, with deep analysis of the Angolan and Mozambican civil wars.

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