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Privacy (BIG IDEAS//small books) Paperback – Deckle Edge, August 7, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


[PRIVACY is] a series of provocative juxtapositions and suggestive arguments. It encourages its readers to reframe how they think of privacy before it's too late. Read it to jolt your imagination into new territory, and to understand why the privacy that many of us sacrifice so readily ought to be held more dear. ... there's an abundance of nutritional thought in 'Privacy.' Keizer has a way of turning lazy notions inside out to exhibit their fallacies. (Laura Miller, Salon)

Keizer ably describes the disturbing and ever-diminishing expectations of privacy...and makes a cogent analysis of the threats to privacy that accompany smartphones and other digital devices. Keizer's commentary reaches deeply into the fabric of post 9/11 America and finds a landscape that has compromised the fundamental human need for privacy, and argues passionately for the value of privacy in a democratic society (Publishers Weekly)

Acclaimed essayist and Harper's contributor Keizer conducts a philosophical meditation on the nature of privacy and finds that the 'right to be let alone' is a lot more complex than many may think.... With unyielding analytical scrutiny, Keizer raises plenty of doubt about the primacy of so-called private lives.... The consequences of such revelations are vast, and readers will be left considering the implications long after the last page is turned. A provocative and unsettling look at something most take for granted--but shouldn't. (Kirkus Reviews)

[A] thoughtful examination of the concept of privacy... Though debates over privacy tend to be driven by technological developments-Facebook and the like-Keizer reminds us that our personal and cultural "privacy settings" or lack of them have political, environmental, and even spiritual valences that are ignored at the expense of democracy and social justice.... Keizer's cautionary wisdom is informed by a deeply felt humanism and presented with eloquence
and wit.

(Brendan Driscoll, Booklist)

Privacy brings Garret Keizer's spirited, reflective, whip-smart and incisive analysis to this far-ranging yet elusive concept. (Concord Monitor)

We all know about airport security, strip searches, racial profiling, and the increasingly sophisticated ways that corporate America uses to track our every interest for marketing purposes. Mr. Keizer digs much deeper than that well plowed ground. . . . This is a dense, thoughtful, and deeply researched (the bibliography is 11 pages) little book that covers a lot of ground, makes one think, and explores a variety of aspects of the general theme, some more easily substantiated than others. . . . This is a book to be read slowly, thoughtfully, and probably more than once. (Barton Chronicle (Vermont))

Privacy has become one of the defining issues of our time, and Garret Keizer is now its most searching interrogator and publicist. He is vast of reference, bracing of clarity, and graceful of expression. What an invigorating instruction: to follow an engaged intelligence as it hits its marks, one after the next. (Sven Birkerts, author of The Glutenberg Elegies: The Fate of Reading in an Electronic Age)

Garret Keizer is a very serious thinker and a good writer, much concerned with fundamental realities and fundamental problems. As with any good essay, reading Privacy is not the end of it; it calls for serious contemplation. (John Lukacs, author of Five Days in London: May 1940)

Very few writers combine thoughtfulness and rage as satisfyingly as Garret Keizer….This is not just a book about noise; it is a profound meditation on power---its painful absence and its flagrant abuse. (Naomi Klein, author of The Shock Doctrine on The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want)

This is a masterpiece of social reportage and---wondrously, given all its burning indictments---of decency and affirmation. (Ron Powers, author of Mark Twain: A Life and coauthor of Flags of Our Fathers on The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want)

About the Author

Garret Keizer is the author of six books, mostly recently of The Unwanted Sound of Everything We Want: A Book About Noise. He is a contributing editor of Harper's Magazine, a contributing writer to Mother Jones, and a recent Guggenheim Fellow.

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Product Details

  • Series: BIG IDEAS//small books
  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Picador (August 7, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312554842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312554842
  • Product Dimensions: 4.6 x 0.6 x 7.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #542,429 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Price Kimmons on September 21, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
There is much to like about this creative defense of privacy as a social and legal concept. This is an incisive, alarming, and well-reasoned call for Americans to wake up to the erosion of our right to privacy--along with a compelling explanation of why we should care. Sadly, however, I was continually put off by the author's sarcastic tone and asides, which he seems to consider charming and funny, but which are more often buffoonish and insensitive, if not downright offensive. For example, his callous discussion of the death of Tyler Clementi, the young gay man who died by suicide after his roommate posted a webacam of Tyler with a male partner online, almost made me thrown down my Kindle in disgust. Still worth a read, but for any reader with a progressive bent, brace yourself to be distracted and annoyed along the way.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 24, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is my first exposure to the work of Garret Keizer, who apparently enjoys a considerable following and whose publishing credentials are impressive. I was therefore disappointed as I tried to follow his thread of argument in this slender volume. Some of his observations are valid, but there is a good deal of riffing, as it were, and one has the sense of the author's random stitching together his various complaints about the loss of privacy, vague efforts to describe what privacy is, and how the elite somehow have greater access to it than those less privileged. All interesting enough but hardly breaking news. Some of his observations seem oddly arrived at and some sentences make no sense in the context of what precedes them. This is a labored effort with little new thought offered, and it could have benefited from rigorous editing down to an op ed piece.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Ronald E. McBee on October 18, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Interesting read. Opens the door to some knew thinking. Could have been a bit more clear in some of his ideas. Had a tendency to not finish a thought.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Tom Maremaa on March 28, 2013
Format: Paperback
I don't know why Keizer's book hasn't gotten more attention, more play in the media. "Privacy" is an awesome book, a must-read in this period where even the word privacy appears to have been routinely debased, laughed at in conversation, debunked. Who cares about privacy, anyway? It's gone. Perhaps forever. So what? Everything is known about each and every one of us, thank you very much. Keizer puts all of this into historical context, charting the course we've traveled, how we got here and why. He does this with an analytical eye, a historian's appetite for digging up the sordid details of the past. And he writes about the loss of privacy as a loss of humanism, what makes us who we are, what enables us to advance collectively as a society. Perhaps, if his text were more argumentative, breathing fire and outrage when discussing this loss, the book might get more readers worked up, like reading Ralph Nader on corporate and consumer abuses, ready to jump into action with a 17-point plan. Keizer is not writing a polemic, nor taking necessarily taking an advocacy position; he's scholarly, reasoned, thoughtful. This is why his book is better reading the second time through, as you see how he enlightens you with discussions on this loss. Privacy, can there be anything more important as an individual right? If you read "1984," the most chilling parts have to do with the all-pervasive "telescreen" and the power of the Thought Police who are eager to erase the past and prosecute those who engage in "thoughtcrimes." Are we there, yet?
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