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.
About the Author
DAVID K. SHIPLER reported for The New York Times from 1966 to 1988 and is the author of four other books. 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.
“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
“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
“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
“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
“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
“This is a book that all Americans should read carefully.”
-Maxwell McKee, Sacramento News and Review
“An insightful analysis of the erosion of basic civil liberties within the past decade . . . A sobering look at the rights Americans take for granted.”
-Starred review, Booklist
“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.”
“Provocative . . . Shocking.”