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Life Without Lawyers : Liberating Americans from Too Much Law
How to restore the can-do spirit that made America great, from the author of the best-selling The Death of Common Sense.
Americans are losing the freedom to make sense of daily choices--teachers can't maintain order in the classroom, managers are trained to avoid candor, schools ban the game of tag, and companies plaster inane warnings on everything: "Remove Baby Before Folding Stroller."
Philip K. Howard's urgent and elegant argument is full of examples, often darkly humorous. He describes the historical and cultural forces that led to this mess, and he lays out the basic shift in approach needed to fix it. Today we are flooded with rules and legal threats that prevent us from taking responsibility and using our common sense. We must rebuild boundaries of law that affirmatively protect an open field of freedom. The stories here will ring true to every reader. The analysis is powerful, and the solution unavoidable. What's at stake, Howard explains in this seminal book, is the vitality of American culture.
Readers familiar with Howard's previous best sellers (Death of Common Sense and The Collapse of the Common Good) will recognize the central argument in this book: the "lawsuit culture" of the United States has undermined personal freedom and diminished our capacity for common sense. Using dramatic stories to illustrate his points, Howard describes education and healthcare systems so bound by rules, policies, and laws that teachers and doctors are incapable of acting according to their best professional judgment. Although a good deal of the book is dedicated to tracing the historical origins of the current legal culture, Howard is primarily concerned with laying out his vision for changing the culture and restoring coherent boundaries to the legal system. The book concludes with an eight-point "agenda for change" summarizing Howard's arguments, plus a substantial bibliography. Recommended for all public libraries and for academic libraries collecting in legal philosophy and cultural criticism.-Rachel Bridgewater, Reed Coll., Portland, OR Copyright 2009 Reed Business Information.
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W. W. Norton & Company, Incorporated
January 11, 2009
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