A Documentary History of Human Rights: A Record of the Events, Documents and Speeches That Shaped Our World
. Running Press Book Publishers, $16 (544pp) ISBN 978-0-7867-1268-7
This anthology from prolific editor Lewis (The Mammoth Book of the West, etc.) is a bit of a potpourri (e.g., does On the Origin of Species, which is excerpted, really qualify as a human rights document? How about the Rules of Courtly Love and the Ten Commandments?). But Lewis also includes the foundational texts of the human rights movement, making this volume valuable to anyone interested in the genesis and history of the concept of human rights: from Socrates's speech to his judges as recorded by Plato in The Apology, to the Magna Carta, to the U.N.'s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and including along the way the Habeas Corpus Act of 1679 and an excerpt from Mary Wollstonecraft's Vindication of the Rights of Woman. Lewis unequivocally declares the West""the highest form of society yet achieved"" for offering""personal freedom and material well-being."" He calls his book""a""primer for citizens of the West and for those elsewhere who wish to emulate its finer points,"" and at that, he succeeds.
Reviewed on: 08/25/2003