cover image Give Me Liberty!: Freeing Ourselves in the Twenty-First Century

Give Me Liberty!: Freeing Ourselves in the Twenty-First Century

Gerry L. Spence / Author St. Martin's Press $24.95 (366p) ISBN

Lawyer, writer and television pundit Spence starts his scathing critique of American society with Goethe's famous statement, ""No one is as hopelessly enslaved as the person who thinks he is free."" This is a wide-ranging polemic but at its heart it reflects Spence's claim that Americans of all walks of life have been enslaved by the New Master, ""the sum total of an amoral coupling between government and business."" Anticipating criticism, Spence (How to Argue and Win Every Time) suggests that while the lives of African American slaves were obviously worse than those of what he deems contemporary corporate slaves, ""a comparison is in order."" Despite the tactlessness of this approach, Spence does offer a refreshing condemnation of Americans' obsession with work and the accruing of wealth. Many other of his subjects, however, have been covered often and are simply given a fresh gloss through Spence's slave metaphor. His ""Twenty Childish Questions,"" for example, range from why America cannot educate its young to why imprisonment rates have risen exponentially. Spence never hesitates to depart from the highway of his argument for an interesting side road; while the force of his homespun rhetoric makes for an entertaining read, these deviations detract from the book's focus. The ability to raise important social questions and attack rampant complacency while simultaneously recalling Ruby Ridge and Waco reveal Spence as an unlikely cross between a progressive lawyer and a Western populist. (Nov.)