From the best-selling author of The Working Poor, an impassioned, incisive look at the violations of civil liberties in the United States that have accelerated over the past decade—and their direct impact on our lives.
How have our rights to privacy and justice been undermined? What exactly have we lost? Pulitzer Prize–winner David K. Shipler searches for the answers to these questions by examining the historical expansion and contraction of our fundamental rights and, most pointedly, the real-life stories of individual men and women who have suffered. This is the account of what has been taken—and of how much we stand to regain by protesting the departures from the Bill of Rights.
With keen insight and telling detail, Shipler describes how the Supreme Court’s constitutional rulings play out on the streets as Washington, D.C., police officers search for guns in poor African American neighborhoods, how a fruitless search warrant turns the house of a Homeland Security employee upside down, and how the secret surveillance and jailing of an innocent lawyer result from an FBI lab mistake. Each instance—often as shocking as it is compelling—is a clear illustration of the risks posed to individual liberties in our modern society. And, in Shipler’s hands, each serves as a powerful incitement for a retrieval of these precious rights.
A brilliant, immeasurably important book for our time.
“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
“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
“Provocative. . . . Shocking.” —Publishers Weekly
“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
“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
“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
“Compelling. . . . Shipler does a masterful job of interweaving poignant anecdotal accounts of his first-hand observations of the gun and narcotics units of the Washington Metropolitan Police department with trenchant, insightful, and spot-on legal analysis.” —Stephen I. Vladeck, Washington Independent Review of Books
“This is a book that all Americans should read carefully.” —Maxwell McKee, Sacramento News and Review
“Vivid. . . . A valuable reminder that we all suffer a loss of liberty when the government casts aside the safeguards of the Constitution.” —Ken Gormley, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
“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
“Provocative. . . . Shipler vividly describes a world wholly foreign not only to Supreme Court jurists but to most Americans. . . . If the right of privacy is to survive, it will be because citizens, enraged by stories like those Shipler tells, recognize that it is not enough to shrug one’s shoulders and say, ‘I have nothing to hide.’” —David Cole, The New York Review of Books
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David K. Shipler reported for The New York Times from 1966 to 1988 in New York, Saigon, Moscow, Jerusalem, and Washington, D.C.. He is the author of four other books, including the best sellers Russia and The Working Poor, and Arab and Jew, which won the Pulitzer Prize. Shipler, who has been a guest scholar at the Brookings Institution and a senior associate at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, has taught at Princeton University; at American University in Washington, D.C.; and at Dartmouth College. He lives in Chevy Chase, Maryland.