The Death of Common Sense: How Law Is Suffocating America and over one million other books are available for Amazon Kindle. Learn more
Qty:1
  • List Price: $14.99
  • Save: $2.51 (17%)
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
In stock on November 27, 2014.
Order it now.
Ships from and sold by Amazon.com.
Gift-wrap available.
The Death of Common Sense... has been added to your Cart
FREE Shipping on orders over $35.
Condition: Used: Good
Comment: Eligible for Amazon's FREE Super Saver/Prime Shipping, 24/7 Customer Service, and package tracking. 100% Satisfaction Guarantee.
Access codes and supplements are not guaranteed with used items.
Have one to sell? Sell on Amazon
Flip to back Flip to front
Listen Playing... Paused   You're listening to a sample of the Audible audio edition.
Learn more
See all 2 images

The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America Paperback – March 1, 1996

ISBN-13: 978-0446672283 ISBN-10: 0446672289

Buy New
Price: $12.48
48 New from $0.09 289 Used from $0.01 7 Collectible from $0.99
Amazon Price New from Used from
Kindle
"Please retry"
Paperback, March 1, 1996
$12.48
$0.09 $0.01
Unknown Binding
"Please retry"
$6.99

There is a newer edition of this item:

Free%20Two-Day%20Shipping%20for%20College%20Students%20with%20Amazon%20Student

$12.48 FREE Shipping on orders over $35. In stock on November 27, 2014. Order it now. Ships from and sold by Amazon.com. Gift-wrap available.

Frequently Bought Together

The Death of Common Sense: How Law is Suffocating America + The Rule of Nobody: Saving America from Dead Laws and Broken Government + The Collapse of the Common Good: How America's Lawsuit Culture Undermines Our Freedom
Price for all three: $42.82

Some of these items ship sooner than the others.

Buy the selected items together

NO_CONTENT_IN_FEATURE

Best Books of the Year
Best Books of 2014
Looking for something great to read? Browse our editors' picks for 2014's Best Books of the Year in fiction, nonfiction, mysteries, children's books, and much more.

Product Details

  • Paperback: 213 pages
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing (March 1, 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0446672289
  • ISBN-13: 978-0446672283
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.6 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #940,179 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Lawyer Howard's indictment of governmental bureaucracy and excessive regulations was a PW bestseller for 25 weeks.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Library Journal

The nuns of the Missionaries of Charity believed two abandoned buildings in New York City would make ideal homeless shelters. The city agreed and offered to sell the building for one dollar each. Yet the shelter project faltered: the city's bureaucracy imposed such expensive remodeling requirements on the buildings that the shelter plans were scrapped. To Howard, an attorney practicing in New York City, this is but one of many examples of the law's suffocating Americans by extensive decrees on what may and may not be done. His book is truly a catalog of horror stories, actually quite engrossing and adding to the story of public inefficiencies chronicled by David Osborne's Reinventing Government (Addison-Wesley, 1992). What Howard does not do as well, however, is offer guidance on remedies. His answer seems to be that we should take personal responsibility, gather up our courage, and step out into the sunlight away from government's shadow. More highly recommended as a study of the negative impact of law is Walter K. Olson's The Litigation Explosion (LJ 2/15/91) even though its focus is on lawsuits and the courts.
Jerry E. Stephens, U.S. Court of Appeals Lib., Oklahoma City
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

More About the Author

Philip K. Howard, a lawyer, advises leaders of both parties on legal and regulatory reform. He is chair of Common Good and a contributor to the New York Times and the Wall Street Journal.

Customer Reviews

This is a quick, easy read and I can relate to this book.
HutSutRaw
I personally think every american should read this book and maybe then our society would make a large change in the way Mr. Howard would obviously like to see.
mike
In "The Death of Common Sense," Mr. Howard leave others behind and give us an example of how to do it right.
Michael H. Benton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

106 of 116 people found the following review helpful By Charles G. Hardin, chardin@govreform.org on February 24, 1999
Format: Paperback
Philip Howard's insights help us understand why government appears arbitrary, almost never able to deal with real-life problems in a way which reflects an understanding of the situation. Peppered with pointed anecdotes about absurd regulatory inflexibility and the lack of the use of judgement, Howard's book reveals that we have concocted a system of regulation that "goes too far while it does too little."
In the decades since WWII, specific legal mandates designed to keep government in check have proliferated. The result is not better government, but more and poorer government. In a free society, we are supposed to be free to do what we want unless it is prohibited. But highly detailed regulations proscribing exactly what to do turn us toward centralized uniformity, Howard says, where law has replaced humanity. Detailed rules and uniform procedures have nonuniform effects when applied to specific situations.
Our old system of common law recognized the particular situation and invited the application of common sense. Common law evolved with the changing times and its truth was relative, Howard tells us, not absolute. But in this century statutes have largely replaced common law, and in recent decades regulations have come to dominate the legal landscape. Howard observes that the Interstate Highway System (still the nation's largest public works program) was authorized in 1956 with a 28-page statute. Now, we attempt to cover every situation explicitly. He cites one contract lawyer who received a proposed definition of the words and/or that was over three hundred words in length. (Let alone the more recent and prominent lawyer who parsed carefully over the definition of what the word "is" is.
Read more ›
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
60 of 68 people found the following review helpful By Steven Fantina on October 26, 1999
Format: Paperback
New York City laws forbidding Mother Theresa from opening a two-story homeless shelter unless she installs an elevator. A 33 page manual describing the qualifications and uses of a hammer. Contract bidding procedures that unintentionally but blatantly encourage corruption.
These snippets sound like lines from a Letterman or Leno monologue, but discouragingly they are all actual government dictates documented in this chilling expose. Phillip Howard does an admirable job of identifying the consequences when good-hearted bureaucrats create well-intentioned regulations, and government services get caught in a stranglehold.
Perhaps even more bilious than these splenetic monuments to red tape, are the huge work forces of administrators who are imprisoned by this uncontrollable system. Howard employs some macabre humor in redacting the plight of one troublesome government employee who purchased a lawn mower with his own money rather than navigate the labyrinth of paperwork necessary to order a replacement. For this breech of procedure, he earned a formal demerit.
Although the subject matter is serious and in deed frequently depressing, Howard often utilizes jocular techniques to make his point. His step by step specifications of NYC's contract bidding ritual would be the envy of any stand-up comic. Unfortunately, the laughing stops upon the realization that this vapid inefficiency is pandemic throughout all levels of our government. It's scary to see just how big Big Brother has become.
Comment Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again
35 of 39 people found the following review helpful By J. Lizzi on July 19, 2002
Format: Paperback
I wouldn't agree with the categorization of this book as an "explosive manifesto" (back cover), nor would I call this "incendiary ... stimulating" (front cover). As an American who too often cringes when our country's regulatory red tape strangles expediency and constructive decision making, I'd say "The Death of Common Sense" offers some poignant anecdotes in describing today's bureaucratic morass. Beyond this, author Philip K. Howard documents well the mentality which has spawned our dependency and passivity, and how we can refocus on how democracy is supposed to function.
Mr. Howard's messages, evident throughout, are very obvious: we have substituted innovation with process, created enemies instead of cooperative societies, and squashed case-by-case reasoning under mountains of procedural law. There are so many "rights" covering every interest group that very little gets done for the benefit of the majority. "Trusting in the law" now means being wary of nearly everyone. Although sounding a bit rant-stricken at times, Mr. Howard offers up lots of food for thought ... some amazing stories. It's all pretty interesting and easy to read.
In my opinion, the last (and shortest) of the book's four parts, entitled "Releasing Ourselves," falls short of hitting on a way to get out from under suffocating law. I agree that initiative and responsibility are admirable attributes for executives in both the public and private arenas, and further, that universally applied policies that regulate the most minute procedural detail should instead have flexibility for more real-world applications. However, what happens when the most innovative of directives winds up injuring or killing someone? Will Joe Citizen give up his right (there's that word) to sue? I doubt it.
Read more ›
2 Comments Was this review helpful to you? Yes No Sending feedback...
Thank you for your feedback. If this review is inappropriate, please let us know.
Sorry, we failed to record your vote. Please try again

Most Recent Customer Reviews