- Hardcover: 570 pages
- Publisher: Cambridge University Press; 1 edition (April 16, 2012)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1107016606
- ISBN-13: 978-1107016606
- Product Dimensions: 6.1 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,528,880 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Presidents and Civil Liberties from Wilson to Obama: A Story of Poor Custodians 1st Edition
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"Sam Walker, one of the nation's most important historians of civil liberties, offers a magisterial and nuanced overview of the troubled relationships between Presidents and civil liberties from Wilson to Obama. This invaluable guide makes clear that no matter what party holds executive office, civil libertarians must look beyond the President for protection of, much less progress on, civil liberties."
--David Cole, Professor of Law, Georgetown University Law Center
"Please publish this exciting, important book as soon as possible! It is an engaging, fascinating, eye-opening, impressively researched and thoughtful discussion of such a vital topic. To the credit of the author, the book is scrupulously fair and non-partisan, taking special pains to dispel stereotypes, shibboleths and oversimplifications about particular Presidents and political parties. The initial exploration of the Obama Administration's record, putting it into the overall historical context, is very important -- critical but fair."
--Nadine Strossen, Former President, American Civil Liberties Union (1991-2008), Professor of Law, New York Law School
"Samuel Walker's book is enlightening in its particulars, but its overall theme is both unsurprising and disheartening. Civil liberties have never been politically popular. Most often, because these matters are often political 'wedge' issues, support for them brings political condemnation. Neither is it surprising that both Democrats and Republicans have been guilty of ignoring our founding charter, but on occasion, have exhibited abundant courage in insisting on complying with, and even promoting, its provisions. Especially as we approach the 2012 election, Walker deserves great credit not only for exploring this vital issue, but for putting his own political beliefs aside to provide an impartial and important discourse on the importance (or lack thereof) of civil liberties in our political system throughout our country's history."
--Virginia Sloan, President, The Constitution Project
"Besides being well-researched, written, and documented, this book is a great read. It disabuses the reader of the commonly-held notion that some U.S. presidents were beyond reproach. Indeed, all of the presidents included here were a mass of contradictions. Whether under the guise of safeguarding national security, or protecting the country against communism or terrorism, all presidents have ordered or enabled serious violations of civil liberties. Using colorful anecdotes, Professor Walker has avoided writing a dry historical read, instead providing a solid and fascinating history."
--Marjorie Cohn, Professor of Law, Thomas Jefferson School of Law and author of "Cowboy Republic: Six Ways the Bush Gang Has Defied the Law"
"Presidents and Civil Liberties is thoroughly informed, psychologically astute, and sensitive to American values, ideal and real. Avoiding the custom of selective and often politically-inspired citations to isolated incidents, Walker is pitilessly even-handed and nonpartisan in his evaluation of our most recent 17 presidents. This book is destined to be a classic in the fields of history, political science and civil liberties."
--Norman Dorsen, Stokes Professor of Law and Counselor to the President, New York University, Former President of the ACLU (1976-1991)
"This is a thoughtful indictment of 20th century US presidents as custodians of citizen civil liberties. Walker provides a highly detailed account of how presidents have either cut corners or outright savaged citizen civil liberties. The thoroughness of his effort here makes this a noteworthy addition to the political and legal history literature."
--R.E. Dewhirst, Northwest Missouri State University, reviewing for Choice Magazine
This is the first book to examine the civil liberties records of American presidents from Woodrow Wilson to Barack Obama. It examines the full range of civil liberties issues from First Amendment rights of freedom of speech to national security issues. The book argues that presidents have not protected or advanced civil liberties, and that several have perpetrated some of worst violations.
Top Customer Reviews
All in all, the author's appraisal of the presidents covered was fair, though I was disappointed that he didn't consider certain economic policies in light of civil liberties. For example, minimum wage laws, from one vantage point, can be seen as a violation of the freedom of association. If I am willing to work for $5 an hour and I can find someone who is willing to pay me that amount, why should the government have the right to tell me I can't? Minimum wages essentially outlaw jobs below the minimum. Their connection to civil liberties is not explored at all in this book, though.
The book also could have used a good copy editor. For such an expensive book, one has the right to expect the highest level of quality.
All in all, though, the minor shortcomings of the book are far outweighed by the excellent treatment of the topic at hand. There is much that will no doubt surprise and, unfortunately, disappoint many readers. Highly recommended.