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The author of the landmark study The Body in Pain, Elaine Scarry offers a stunning and original analysis of the '¬Sclaim of emergency'¬ that modern governments have used to undermine democracy and increase executive power. For sixty years, democratic governments have bypassed legal provisions concerning the declaration of war, the use of torture, civilian surveillance, and nuclear weapons. In the desire for swift national action, we citizens devalue thinking and ignore ways to check government power, plunging our countries into a precarious state between monarchy and democracy. Drawing on the work of philosophers, neuroscientists, and artists, Scarry here proves decisively that thinking and rapid action are compatible. Practices that we dismiss as mere habit and protocol instead represent rigorous, effective modes of thought that we must champion in periods of crisis. Scarry'¬"s bold claim on behalf of fundamental democratic principles will enliven and enrich the ongoing debate about leadership in times of emergency.