Know your rights.

By David K. Shipler

Alfred A. Knopf 28.95 400 pages

In Rights at Risk, David K. Shipler provides a straightforward look into the world of the Bill of Rights and the continuing struggle to get them right in our volatile world. It’s a good read, peppered with deft turns of phrases that give rise to ah-ha! moments.

In Shipler’s opinion the United States falls short of its ideals in the realm of citizens’ rights. For example, after 9/11 the Bush administration rounded up over a thousand Muslims, held them without charges and released or deported them only after extended imprisonment. The other famous example is the internment of Japanese-Americans during World War II.

The erosion of our constitutional guarantees happens all the time, especially, when prosecutors, wanting to strengthen weak cases, react with a “stormy gust of expediency” to walk all over defendants’ rights. Shipler reveals that many companies include in their interrogators’ training such controversial methods as “sneak and peek” searches or wire tapping without warrants.

Shipler argues that although a basic knowledge of the Bill of Rights by all citizens is not possible to achieve, we need to maintain a robust “Constitutional culture.” By reading this book and discussing it with others, you will be doing your part.

Reviewed By Norman West

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