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The Rights of the People: How Our Search for Safety Invades Our Libertiesby David K. Shipler
Synopses & Reviews
From the best-selling author of The Working Poor, an impassioned, incisive look at the violations of civil liberties in the United States that have accelerated over the past decade—and their direct impact on our lives.
How have our rights to privacy and justice been undermined? What exactly have we lost? Pulitzer Prize-winner David K. Shipler searches for the answers to these questions by examining the historical expansion and contraction of our fundamental rights and, most pointedly, the real-life stories of individual men and women who have suffered. This is the account of what has been taken—and of how much we stand to regain by protesting the departures from the Bill of Rights.
With keen insight and telling detail, Shipler describes how the Supreme Courts constitutional rulings play out on the streets as Washington, D.C., police officers search for guns in poor African American neighborhoods, how a fruitless search warrant turns the house of a Homeland Security employee upside down, and how the secret surveillance and jailing of an innocent lawyer result from an FBI lab mistake. Each instance—often as shocking as it is compelling—is a clear illustration of the risks posed to individual liberties in our modern society. And, in Shiplers hands, each serves as a powerful incitement for a retrieval of these precious rights.
A brilliant, immeasurably important book for our time.
"The wars on crime and terrorism have turned into a war on privacy and freedom, according to this provocative but sometimes overwrought exposÃ© of infringements of the Bill of Rights. In this first of two volumes, Pulitzer-winning journalist Shipler (Arab and Jew) focuses on the Fourth Amendment's guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure, and finds violations that remind him of his days covering the Soviet Union. Most shocking is his ride-along reportage on the Washington, D.C., Police Department's bullying searches for guns and drugs in black neighborhoods. (Random stop-and-frisks and automobile searches are so ubiquitous, he observes, that African-American men automatically raise their shirts to expose their waistbands when cops approach; residents are puzzled when he tells them they have the right to refuse police searches.) When the author turns to less intrusive surveillance, like the Bush administration's warrantless wire-tapping, his outrage — 'government snooping destroys the inherent poetry of privacy' — is less compelling; he writes as if search engines sifting e-mails are tantamount to Hessians kicking in doors. (Apr.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright PWyxz LLC)
Book News Annotation:
Pulitzer Prize winning author Shipler made the decision to write about civil liberties on September 11, 2001, feeling immediately that the attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon would fuel a liberty-repressing response. This book, the first of two he plans on the subject, reports on some egregious instances of civil rights violation. He focuses on the Fourth Amendment, which guarantees "the right of the people to be secure in their person, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures." (The planned upcoming volume will focus on the First, Fifth, and Sixth amendments.) The cases Shipler describes are real. He's not a lawyer but has taken pains to understand and explain the legal context and the far-reaching implications of the violations. Annotation ©2011 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
About the Author
David K. Shipler reported for The New York Times from 1966 to 1988 in New York, Saigon, Moscow, Jerusalem, and Washington, D.C.. He is the author of four other books, including the best sellers Russia and The Working Poor, and Arab and Jew, which won the Pulitzer Prize. Shipler, who has been a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has taught at Princeton University; at American University in Washington, D.C.; and at Dartmouth College. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.
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