Liberty as a human ideal may never seem more powerful—or problematic—after reading these pages.



Rethinking one of America’s most cherished values in search of a better tomorrow.

America has lost its way, says Schwartz (Liberty in America’s Founding Moment, 2011), a former religious studies professor–turned–software company executive. From a political and economic standpoint, he believes much of the blame can be traced to a flawed understanding of liberty. Many Americans equate liberty with protecting individual rights and property. But, Schwartz writes, that one-sided view ignores the responsibilities that come with liberty. He calls this philosophy “liberty-first” because it places liberty above all other values, such as equality, justice and compassion. The result is an egocentric, government-fearing mentality that carries grave political and environmental consequences for an increasingly crowded planet. “The near-obsessive focus on liberty to the exclusion of other important values and concepts is part of what is causing the world’s problems and undermining America’s leadership and respect,” he writes. Schwartz pits himself against libertarians and other far-right politicos by advancing a “responsibility-first” philosophy. At its core is the belief that humans, past and present, are irrevocably interdependent. So, along with our rights, we have obligations to each other. Controversial, ponderous and intensely argued, the book attacks principles many Americans take for granted. Concepts such as “natural rights” and “self-regulating markets” come under blistering critique as Schwartz probes their origins in the writings of Thomas Hobbes, John Locke, Adam Smith and others. The implications of his philosophy are far-reaching: It reconsiders the nature of government, property, labor and natural resources in the pursuit of a more equitable and sustainable future. Overall, the book strikes a good balance between scholarly rigor and popular appeal. Endnotes are used judiciously, helping to keep the narrative free of academic quibbling. The prose is articulate and carefully worded, only occasionally blemished by long-winded sentences. Conservatives may find the book troubling, but few can disagree that with a global population of 7 billion and growing, humans must find new ways to coexist peaceably. For Schwartz, that means broadening our views on civic life.

Liberty as a human ideal may never seem more powerful—or problematic—after reading these pages.

Pub Date: Nov. 4, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-9828325-1-6

Page Count: -

Publisher: Other Ideas Press

Review Posted Online: Nov. 4, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 15, 2014

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...



Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

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