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The Rights of the People: How Our Search for Safety Invades Our Liberties Paperback – February 14, 2012
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From Publishers Weekly
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“Important. . . . I suspect Shipler’s arguments will speak to . . . most Americans. . . . The Rights of the People is timely, eloquent, solid, fair-minded and, on almost every page, upsetting.” —Craig Seligman, Bloomberg
“If you ever wondered how the erosion of constitutional liberties affects ordinary people, this is the book to read. Shipler shows us, through carefully drawn and often moving accounts of real-life encounters between individuals and the state, the true cost of sacrificing liberty for security.” —David Cole, author of No Equal Justice
“This powerful book demonstrates the reality behind abstract debates about liberty and security, and shows us what happens when liberty starts to erode.” —Linda Greenhouse, author of Becoming Justice Blackmun
“David Shipler has done something extraordinary. He took the guarantees in our Constitution and explored, on the ground, how they were actually being applied in the lives of Americans. The result is a wonderful book that shows how large a gap there is between constitutional promises and reality.” —Anthony Lewis, author of Gideon’s Trumpet
“An insightful analysis of the erosion of basic civil liberties within the past decade . . . A sobering look at the rights Americans take for granted.” —Booklist (Starred review)
“Shipler’s sure grasp of frequently impenetrable Supreme Court decisions (translated nicely for the non-lawyer), his engaged reporting and his generally evenhanded assessment of the reasons for these sometimes abrupt, mostly incremental intrusions on our freedoms make for an informed, persuasive argument. A timely call for vigilence.” —Kirkus
“Provocative. . . . Shocking.” —Publishers Weekly
“David Shipler's panoramic canvas portrays in vivid detail how our right to be ‘secure against unreasonable searches and seizures’ (in the words of the Bill of Rights) is being undermined not only by the excesses of our antiterrrorism strategies but also by everyday policing. As a consummate reporter, Shipler has done a prodigious service to the Constitution by going beyond abstractions to show why we, like the framers, should insist on safeguarding the Fourth Amendment's protection of our privacy, liberty, and individuality.” —Susan Herman, president of the ACLU and author of Taking Liberties: The War on Terror and the Erosion of American Democracy
Top Customer Reviews
Typically when someone on the left takes up this subject they point out violations on the part of Republicans in a very personal manner as in, Nixon was evil, or George Bush was this or that, and then Roosevelt, Obama, et al have their sins mixed in with the faults of America at large so as to minimize their personal stake in the matter.
Not so with this book. Shipler points out the loss of freedoms under the Bush administration, but - and this is refreshing - actually blames the shock and uncertainty of the moment instead of assigning their actions to some nefarious plan by Dick Cheney and his crew of devilish imps. Likewise, he makes due note of Obama's continuation of the Bush administration's policies, and in fact - though this is only implied, and not even purposely - Obama looks much worse since he is not dealing with the war on terror in the initial crises mode that Bush had to face, but is simply holding the ship steady on its course for stripping the citizenry of even more freedoms.
And even that subject, Bush or Obama, Left or Right, takes a backseat to the stated goal of his book; that of our rights. The author spends much more time talking about our rights as they are violated on a day to day basis, and not just at the 30,000 foot view of biased punditry.
I always tell people that the traditional left-right continuum used to describe someone's politics is so inaccurate as to be useless. Really, what is the difference between an aging hippie living on a hill somewhere raising some dope for personal use and telling the government to get out of his business and a Barry Goldwater-type conservative (like me) living by himself on a hill somewhere that tells the government to get its nose out of his business? Some dope. Otherwise, they are both determined advocates of civil liberties - keep out of my business if it is not hurting anyone else.
Mr. Shipler and I meet on that continuum at the spot I just described.
The Rights of the People starts with a history of civil rights in American history and there were a few things that surprised this American history addict (let's just say that the more I read about Woodrow Wilson, the less I like). Shipler then moves into a chapter called "Another Country." This country is inner-city Washington, D.C.Read more ›
And, that's just in regular criminal jurisprudence.
Shipler also tackles the post-9/11 world of FISA and terrorism, while showing that the civil liberties erosion there has had spillover into regular criminal court proceedings.
Best of all, he doesn't just write about this from an academic point of view.
He rides shotgun with DC Metropolitan Police, on the night beat, Southeast DC, on the guns and drugs roundup. He sees how some cops bend the rules on searches, simply by their "copness." He sees how much of the black-majority community is semi-intimidated by this, while many of the actual illegal gun owners or drug sellers know it's a game, and do the best they can to play. He sees how this doesn't necessarily improve the protection of law abiding residence of the area, contra the warped mindset of the Supreme Court.
A great read.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
There are two sections of this book that are must read material for any American who cherishes true freedom and detests the police state of the twenty first century, the section... Read morePublished on June 24, 2014 by AlanWarner
If I could recommend one book to the lay reader about what is going in our courts, sadly, it would not be my own: It would be David K. Read morePublished on June 6, 2013 by Norman A. Pattis
This book should be required reading in all high school civics classes and law schools. It points out in clear language the effects of fear to constitutional rights. Read morePublished on November 25, 2011 by Rita Sasso