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In Defense of Our America: The Fight for Civil Liberties in the Age of Terror Hardcover – May 22, 2007

6 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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*Starred Review* One of the ironies of the war in Iraq and the "war on terror" is the disconnect between the administration's rhetoric about fighting for freedom for people in foreign lands and the simultaneous trampling on the liberties of people here at home. Using the 9/11 terrorist attacks as its shield and überpatriotism as its guide, the administration's pursuit of national security is often at odds with basic Bill of Rights principles. Romero, executive director of the ACLU, and journalist Temple-Raston provide compelling behind-the-scenes accounts of such significant cases as the capture of John Walker Lindh in Afghanistan, the National Security Agency's warrantless wiretap program, the battle to introduce intelligent design into public school curricula, and the destruction of New Orleans' penal and judicial systems in the wake of Hurricane Katrina. Told with narrative flair, Romero and Temple-Raston's harrowing chronicle of America's tenuous hold on basic human rights is not a leftist apologia or liberal screed but rather a critically balanced yet hard-hitting analysis of the threats to our civil rights as perceived by individuals on the front lines of each issue. With the clock running out on the current administration and 2008 presidential campaign rhetoric already in full swing, this cautionary tale of humanitarian missteps and misdeeds makes for timely—and timeless—reading. Haggas, Carol
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved


"Prichard keeps the listener engaged in a complex and detailed treatise.... His even-keeled delivery underscores the credibility of this substantive assessment of how America has succumbed to fear and tyranny from within." ---AudioFile --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (May 22, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061142565
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061142567
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,400,011 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Francisco L. Montalvo on July 11, 2007
Format: Hardcover
I watched Anthony Romero on CSPAN2 BookTV pitching this book at a book show in Chicago. He recommended it as a book you might give someone who rolls his eyes at you when you say you support the ACLU.

The book is a good consolidation of how civil liberties have become victims in the war on terror. I'm a politically moderate, active duty military officer and didn't start reading this book until I was convinced that I could do it with an open mind. By that I mean that I sought to eliminate most prejudicial skepticism, since I don't believe any human being can eliminate all of it.

The book hops back and forth a bit, sometimes making it hard to follow. But knowing that the book is designed to be a fairly concise synopsis for a skeptical audience makes me understand why he did it this way. If you dwell on the same subject to long and the reader disagrees with the author, perhaps you can keep the reader engaged by mixing the stories.

The one annoying thing that Mr. Romero does in his book pertains to the abortion argument. He seemingly laments when an abortionist is referred to as a "baby-killer", but in turn summarizes anyone who opposes abortion as "anti-choice" and "the Jerry Falwells." In my opinion, intelligent discussion precludes the use of loaded language, as it only serves to get an emotional rise out of people. I am disgusted by Pro-Lifers who call Pro-Choicers murderers just as I am disgusted by Pro-Choicers who call Pro-Lifers crusaders or fascists. My personal jury is still out on the abortion issue, and when I listen to so many people with an inability to argue without exchanging barbs, I remember why.

The only other thing that I'd like to add is that Mr.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Philip on July 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is a very readable account of civil rights battles in the time since 9/11, covering specific stories on gay rights, wiretapping, intelligent design, etc. In the preface the authors state it is meant to "read like a novel" and it is an easy and interesting read that most could finish in a couple of days.

My major complaint is that the stories are intertwined for no good effect. After a paragraph on intelligent design, the story suddenly jumps to torture. The entire book plays out this way, jumping back and forth among 5 or 6 stories. While this technique can work in film and novels, with nonfiction it gives me mental whiplash. It would be far better to keep like subject matter together-- indeed, in the references they do just this. So why not in the text?

My other minor complaint is that I would have preferred more detail and reasoning. However, this book does seem to aim at the widest possible audience, and those who follow civil rights may be slightly disappointed.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Paul Lappen VINE VOICE on January 23, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This book looks at the current state of civil liberties in America, by exploring case studies of several different types of cases.

Matthew Limon is a gay teenager from Kansas who was sentenced to a seventeen-year prison term for having consensual sex with a boy three years younger. If his sex partner had been female, the sentence would have been much less. As a way to lessen the impact of a proposed total abortion ban in South Dakota, Cecilia Fire Thunder, the President of the Sioux Nation, advocated putting an abortion clinic on Sioux land. The school board of Dover, Pennsylvania attempted to force the local high school to include "intelligent design" into the biology curriculum. A middle-age science teacher named Bertha Spahr led the fight against the plan. Kot Hordynski is part of a non-violent anti-war group at the University of California, Santa Clara. The Pentagon put him on a terrorist watch list and called him a "credible threat."

Before anyone thinks that the American Civil Liberties Union, of which Romero is the Executive Director, is an anti-conservative or anti-Catholic group, consider: the ACLU defended Rush Limbaugh's right to privacy when prosecutors wanted his medical records to prosecute his drug bust; they argued that anti-abortion protestors have a right to march and be heard; the ACLU stood up for Oliver North's constitutional rights during Iran-Contra; when a high school senior wanted to put a quote from the Bible in her yearbook, the ACLU argued that she had a right to free speech-even religious speech. Also, the ACLU helped strike the provision in the Virginia constitution that denied Jerry Falwell's church the right to incorporate in Virginia.

This is a gem of a book. It does a good job of showing how civil liberties were not in good shape, entangling average people, even before 9/11; since then, things have gotten noticeably worse. It is very much worth reading.
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