A cogent survey of the historical roots of the fast ten amendments; how they were written "to strengthen the democratic standard of equality proclaimed as a self-evident truth in the Declaration of Independence"; and a brief exposition of each of their provisions, followed by more detailed accounts of how these have fared in the last 200 years. Meltzer eloquently presents civil rights as essential to the functioning of our democratic government, clearly summarizing the importance of landmark cases and substantiating his generalizations with well-chosen detail. His liberal stance is evident and suitable to the subject; but his concerned, rational presentation of such issues as the balance between security and political censorship ("secrecy can become addictive")--as well as his observation that the ultimate purpose of the Bill of Rights is to protect us from possible tyranny by the government itself--goes beyond partisanship. An excellent source that also makes engrossing reading. Time line; lengthy, scholarly bibliography plus a bibliographic essay; index.