Reviews & Endorsements

“Were Snowden’s leaks justified? Rahul Sagar’s Secrets and Leaks sheds important light on the question. In carefully argued and lucid prose, Sagar, a professor of politics at Princeton, argues that secrets are inevitable, as are leaks–and that leaks have an important if precarious part in checking secrecy abuse.”


David Cole

New York Review of Books

“This is an excellent book that comes at an essential time. Snowden’s leaks, which took place after Sagar finished the book, have focused public debate on the secrecy/transparency paradox, and Sagar’s book is infinitely superior to the sloganeering that dominates the media.”


Eric A. Posner

New Republic

“In his new book, Secrets and Leaks, the Princeton political scientist Rahul Sagar ably documents . . . growth in secrecy and the problems it poses, excavating from his thorough research a concise history of concealment and revelation from the Revolutionary War to the present. Atop this scholarship, he adds legal analysis and an attempt to map a regulatory framework that will keep the country secure, make the government accountable, and still preserve Americans’ civil liberties.”


Jack Shafer 

Foreign Affairs


“With a deep understanding of the operations of government and the press, and a rigorous and insightful analysis… Secrets and Leaks is a provocative, thoughtful, and important contribution to our understanding.”

Geoffrey R. Stone

Political Science Quarterly

“Thanks to the author’s rigorous argumentation and empirical depth, Secrets and Leaks will be of interest to a wide audience concerned with the theoretical dilemma of openness and secrecy, as well as those concerned with the specific nature of the problem in the United States. This is an authoritative and welcome addition to a disparate literature on the topic.”


Owen D. Thomas

Contemporary Political Theory

“In Secrets and Leaks, Sagar provides us with a thoroughly researched and well-documented study of the politico-legal context of regimented state secrecy and offers an insightful analysis of the politics behind state secrecy…”

David Grondin

Perspectives on Politics

Secrets and Leaks is remarkable… for its inexhaustible fund of new arguments and insights. It gives up almost completely the all-too-famous phrases and slogans that otherwise characterize the debate. The power of its analytical clarity makes it stand out from all the publications on the control of state secrets.”


Stefan Schnöckel

Der Staat

“Sagar makes a fresh, original and provocative contribution to the field…he is about as critical of his own arguments as he is towards those of others, and readers will be the wiser for it.”

Steven Aftergood


Secrets and Leaks provides a thoughtful and well-researched analysis of the regulation of intelligence activities… Sagar makes clear that most ideas for refining regulation of intelligence activities merely worsen oversight or create more layers of it.”

Jason Manosevitz

Studies in Intelligence

“Sagar’s new book could not come at a more opportune time. As a fresh national and even international debate about the morality of whistle-blowing and state secrecy develops, Sagar presents a compelling set of arguments about the balance between national security and liberty… This profound and profoundly important book deserves to inform the ongoing debate.”

R.D. Stacey


 “a detailed and thoughtful study of the intricate relationship among US executive power, state secrecy and national security…”


Dennis Phillips

Australian Review of Public Affairs

“a thoroughly researched, thoughtfully considered work that clarifies an unsolvable dilemma at the heart of democratic governance…” 

Gabriel Schoenfeld

Claremont Review of Books

“Sagar makes a compelling argument that leaking plays an important role in uncovering wrongdoing in an arena in which both Congress and the courts are institutionally inhibited…”


Gabrielle Appleby

Inside Story 


“[Secrets and Leaks is] a shining deed in a naughty world.”


                David Bentley

                International Affairs


“Rahul Sagar’s new book Secrets and Leaks: The Dilemma of State Secrecy is both an important new work on the deep problem of political accountability in the context of U.S. government secrecy, and it is an excellent teaching resource.”


              Mary L. Dudziak



“Sagar’s book is an essential read for those concerned with the problems of executive branch secrecy.”


M. Elizabeth Sanders

Tulsa Law Review

“Sagar examines the very hot topic of the role of leaks and whistleblowing in democracy. He argues that they are fundamental to democratic politics generally and American democracy specifically, but he is subtle and informed enough to recognize the dangers of whistleblowing, particularly on matters of national security. Sagar could well launch a new literature on the subject.”


Corey Brettschneider

Brown University

“A truly excellent and provocative book. Secrets and Leaks makes an outstanding contribution to an issue of contemporary concern that will not go away–and will probably become far more serious–in the future.”


Sanford Levinson

University of Texas at Austin

“In this provocative and original book, Rahul Sagar resolves a core dilemma of executive power in a democracy. He shows how the justification for secrecy and accountability for its misuse both hover outside the normal legal order. Elegant in its symmetry and uncanny in its timing.”


Jeffrey K. Tulis

University of Texas at Austin


Rahul Sagar is Global Network Associate Professor of Political Science at NYU Abu Dhabi and Washington Square Fellow at NYU New York. He was previously Associate Professor of Political Science at Yale NUS College and Assistant Professor of Politics at Princeton University. His primary research interests are in political theory, political ethics, and public policy. He has written on a range of topics including executive power, moderation, and political realism. He is also deeply interested in the politics and society of India, especially Indian political thought. His first book, Secrets and Leaks: The Dilemma of State Secrecy, published by Princeton University Press in 2013, received the National Academy of Public Administration’s 2014 Louis Brownlow Award, the Society for the Policy Sciences’ 2015 Myres S. McDougal Prize, and was designated a 2014 CHOICE Outstanding Title. He has recently started work on a second book entitled Decent Regimes where he makes the case for respecting regimes such as trusteeships that provide greater stability and well-being than a democratic regime can in the face of troubled conditions. His work has been published in a number of edited volumes and peer-reviewed journals including the Journal of Political Philosophy, The Journal of Politics, Ethics and International Affairs, and Polity. He is a Global Ethics Fellow at the Carnegie Council and has received grants from a number of organizations including the Smith Richardson Foundation. He has a PhD in Government from Harvard University (2007) and a BA in Politics, Philosophy, and Economics from Balliol College, Oxford University (2000). He has been cited by or appeared on a number of media outlets including CNNBBCNPR, ABC, Foreign AffairsThe New York Review of BooksThe Washington Post, The Guardian, The AtlanticSlateDeutsche Welle, Channel News Asia, and The Sydney Morning Herald.


My research investigates moral puzzles in contemporary politics and public policy. I address these puzzles in a manner that is realistic rather than abstract or speculative. That is, I take politics as it can be in our often violent and conflicted world, not as it could be under ideal conditions. Hence, the advice and solutions I offer are sensitive to context and consequences. In slightly more technical language, I do problem-driven political theory, from a consequentialist perspective, employing realist methods.


My first book, Secrets and Leaks, studies the predicament that state secrecy creates for liberal democracies. It shows that though whistleblowing and leaking constitute the most durable means of uncovering the misuse of secrecy, unauthorized disclosures of these kinds can also be made rashly or maliciously. As a result, liberal democracies need to guard against not only too much but also too little secrecy. The right balance, I conclude, can only be struck when both the government and the press act responsibly.


I have recently started work on my second book project, Decent Regimes. It makes the case for respecting regimes that are not liberal democratic but that provide more stability and well-being than a democratic regime can under troubled conditions. The value of such regimes becomes clear when we see how democratization has tended to generate corrupt, violent, and illiberal regimes in countries like Afghanistan and Iraq. In such cases, I argue, the United States ought to support an equivalent to a decent regime–namely, internationally administered trusteeships.


Presently I am completing a co-authored manuscript, provisionally entitled How to be Great?: India’s Quest to Find Its Place in the World. This book examines the role that Indian intellectuals, administrators, and elites believe India can and ought to play in international politics. I am responsible for the first half of the manuscript, which traces Indian thinking on war and peace since the mid-nineteenth century. The rare archival materials unearthed during my research into this topic will be published in the form of a Reader.


Please click on the icons below for a brief overview of these projects. For more details, including downloadable published essays and syllabi, please visit:


  • Address:
    NYU Abu Dhabi
    PO Box 903
    New York University
    New York, NY 10012

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