From Publishers Weekly
Kaminer (Free for All
) weighs in on her disillusionment with the ACLU after serving on the national board in post-9/11 America. She contends that under the stewardship of Anthony Romero, who stepped into the executive director position one week before the September 11 attacks, the ACLU has become increasingly partisan, personalized and focused on fund-raising at the expense of its core beliefs. Kaminer describes herself as a œdissident member of the board, and revisits her many battles with Romero and his supporters as she fought their refusal to challenge the government's terrorist watch lists or aid Guantánamo Bay detainees—as less financially stable groups spearheaded the cause. Kaminer admits that she œcan't claim objectivity, and she is least effective when she allows herself too much leeway on this point, for example, psychoanalyzing those she disagrees with or peppering her writing with references to Branch Davidians and œthe Kool-Aid. However, her depiction of how group members not only follow the herd but also ostracize the œtroublemaker is compelling, and her book is brave and informative. (June)
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Kaminer . . . weighs in on her disillusionment with the ACLU after serving on the national board in post-9/11 America. . . . Her depiction of how group members not only follow the herd but also ostracize the 'troublemaker' is compelling, and her book is brave and informative.—Publishers Weekly
"Standing up to your political enemies is easy, fun, and often profitable. Taking public issue with your friends and allies on a matter of great principle is none of these, but it is a far more important service to others. I am enormously grateful to Wendy Kaminer for the intellectual integrity and moral courage this book represents."—Congressman Barney Frank
"Witty, trenchant, devastating, Worst Instincts
is a study of institutional decay, of how good organizations, blinded by the righteousness of their mission, do bad things."—Jack Beatty, author of Age of Betrayal
and On Point
"The willingness to criticize your own based on principles you would apply to others is a measure of integrity. Kaminer's important book about her beloved ACLU has that integrity. She tells a startling, sad, and exceptionally well-documented story."—Ira Glasser, former executive director, ACLUFrom the Trade Paperback edition.