Patriots Act: Voices of Dissent and the Risk of Speaking Out

Bill Katovsky, Author
Bill Katovsky, Author Lyons Press $22.95 (322p) ISBN 978-1-59228-816-8
Reviewed on: 04/03/2006
Release date: 04/01/2006
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Oral historian Katovsky (Embedded) sets out to ""defend the defenders of our freedoms and civil liberties"" with 20 oral histories of outspoken contemporary American dissenters. Some of his subjects, like Max Cleland, Randi Rhodes and Paul Krugman, are well-known critics of the Bush administration; some, like former FAA official Bogdan Dzakovic, ""Pentagon Papers"" leaker Daniel Ellsberg and former White House anti-terrorism advisor Rand Beers, became whistleblowers out of frustration with the ineffectiveness and dishonesty they encountered in the government. In celebrating his interviewees' lives, Katovsky provides brief overviews of their careers (though some are much longer than others and wander into areas where the subjects have opinions, but not expertise), and in the absence of any opposing views or objective reporting, the interviews begin to sound self-righteous. However, as the title suggests, the book avoids becoming a partisan philippic by emphasizing the protestors' patriotism-their faith in the idea of liberty at the core of the American political tradition and in the good intentions and courage of their fellow citizens. Readers who share Katovsky's politics will find this a bracing tribute to those who have risked popularity, a pristine police record, or a job by acting on their beliefs.
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