From a legal viewpoint, human rights are comparatively recent history, but their essence--that a person possesses inviolable qualities by virtue of being a person--is as old as Adam and Eve. Ishay's treatment seeks to survey how those qualities have been defined, and it leans decidedly toward the theoretical, a caution to readers preferring inspirational stories. Ishay presents a spectrum of writers on human rights whom she links through time on themes such as the friction between individual and group rights, or the rights of man versus the prerogatives of the state, as the problem was put in the Enlightenment. It is one of six chronological periods into which the subject is organized, beginning with ancient religious commentary on rights. Following discussion of the Enlightenment's liberal legacy, Ishay develops socialist conceptions of group rights that arose from the Industrial Revolution and that also echo in contemporary concerns with globalization. For scholars of and activists in human rights, Ishay sympathetically furnishes historical contexts for specific causes and campaigns. Gilbert TaylorCopyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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“This is an important book for those who focus on human rights in history.”
(Susan Longfield Karr Journal Of World History