From Publishers Weekly
In this unflinching memoir of his 40 years of working for human rights, noted activist Neier brings to light his many successes as well as his "mistakes and errors in judgment"; with 20/20 hindsight and refreshing honesty, he even describes some of the stances he's reconsidered. The volume's three sections recount Neier's tenures at the ACLU (1963-78), where he rose from field director to executive director; as a founding member of Human Rights Watch (1978-93); and his current post as head of the Soros Foundations and the Open Society Institute (1993-present). Each section is divided into chapters about specific crusades against such wide-ranging evils as police brutality in New York, military abuses in El Salvador, and genocide in the former Yugoslavia. Throughout, Neier also weighs in on current affairs and, unsurprisingly, criticizes the Bush administration, which can sometimes muddle the narrative; the brief analyses of recent events that end many chapters feel tacked on. The book is also marred by patches of unimportant details, immoderate praise of Neiers associates and disconcertingly frequent references to September 11, some of which seem uncalled for. Neier's accomplishments and passion deserve respect, but his prose is too often wordy and dry. His skills as a writer, unfortunately, don't quite match his talents as an advocate.
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"A life that encapsulates American progressivism over the past half-century in both its strengths and weaknesses." -- Kirkus Reviews, December 1, 2002
"a subtle intelligence joined with an iron dedication to improving civil society...subtle and detailed reporting." -- New York Times Book Review, May 11, 2003.
"a vivid picture of the patience and ingenuity required to translate noble principles and good intentions into practical reality." -- New York Review of Books, May 15, 2003.
"an intellectual history of the rights movement in the United States and abroad, as told by a...highly effective protagonist." -- Washington Post, March 9, 2003.