Kristin's Reviews > With Liberty and Justice for Some: How the Law is Used to Destroy Equality and Protect the Powerful

With Liberty and Justice for Some by Glenn Greenwald
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Apr 29, 12

bookshelves: social-justice, politics, non-fiction, history, legal-studies, economics
Read from April 21 to 23, 2012

The good things about this book:

It is exhaustingly well-researched. If I could describe this book in one word, it would be "thorough."

I like how he he traces the beginning of the problem to Watergate. Today I learned!

Greenwald, as always, has a great voice that is refreshingly unassuming. I love the times when he quotes his own blog to show that he was wrong about something. The world would be a better place with more people like him.

The bad things about this book:

As many other reviewers have pointed out, this book doesn't tell you anything you don't already know. If you read the news regularly, especially if you read Greenwald's blog on Salon (check and check for me personally), this book is old news to you.

By far my biggest complaint about the book is that it's all problem, no solution. Greenwald exhaustively lays out the problem, but never once takes the small extra step to suggest possible courses of action for those of us (like myself) who are already in the choir to which he is preaching.

Maybe I've developed an unfair standard. After all, Greenwald never says he sets out to prescribe a solution, so why should I expect one of him? I think it's simply because there is no new content in this book, but I kept waiting for there to be.

I think Greenwald is in a unique place in that he is well-educated, thoughtful, compassionate, has an incredible knowledge of law, and is focused like a laser on justice. Combined with the fact that he has an audience willing and ready to listen to him, I was hoping he would do some analysis and suggest possible courses of action to the very real, terrifying problem he lays out.

When I said above that the book was thorough, it was only half a compliment. This book makes me think of George Lakoff's writing: I feel that Greenwald falls into the trap that Lakoff describes and that liberals so often fall into. Liberals love their facts and statistics, but aren't very good with punchy messaging. Greenwald loves his facts, statistics, quotes, and charts, but he's not winning any converts with this book.

Once again, maybe an unfair standard, because Greenwald never claims he's going to persuade anyone. But I can't help but think he intended this book to win converts - why else do you do such thorough research?

TL;DR - I didn't like this book (even though I love Greenwald's blog!) because it regurgitates the news ad nauseum and is too focused on the problem. Now we need solutions! I'm not even looking for him to definitively settle on one idea that is completely correct (then he'd be Paul Krugman, and the world can't handle two of him), but even a suggestion or two offered for the readers to think about would have been nice.
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Colleen Clark We're supposed to be able to think for ourselves, decide how to be politically and otherwise engaged. It's up to us. Greenwald's doing his job by reporting and writing. Besides, he wrote another book entitled "How Would a Patriot Act? Maybe there are action items there.


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