I was previously a constitutional law and civil rights litigator and am now a journalist. I am the author of three New York Times bestselling books -- "How Would a Patriot Act" (a critique of Bush executive power theories), "Tragic Legacy" (documenting the Bush legacy), and With Liberty and Justice for Some (critiquing America's two-tiered justice system and the collapse of the rule of law for its political and financial elites). My fifth book - No Place to Hide: Edward Snowden, the NSA and the US Surveillance State - will be released on April 29, 2014 by Holt/Metropolitan.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

How Would a Patriot Act? -- the release

(updated below - and again)

The release date for my book -- How Would a Patriot Act? Defending American Values from a President Run Amok -- is still a little more than two weeks away (May 15), but the book is now available for pre-ordering on Amazon. Robust pre-orders can apparently be quite critical in generating attention and visibility for the book. For that reason, we are beginning this week to encourage anyone who intends to buy the book to pre-order as many copies as you intend to obtain from Amazon.

I am genuinely very happy with the content of the book. Writing a book is a much more collaborative process (in both the good and bad senses) than I had realized -- there are disputes with the editor, conflicts with the publisher, and all sorts of struggles to figure out whose input should be listened to and whose should be disregarded. But ultimately, both the creative editing and the line editing processes made the book much more compelling and much better-written than it would have been without all of that.

John Dean -- who made a point of refusing to say anything about the book until he had read the manuscript in its entirety -- provided this blurb:

Glenn Greenwald has assembled a devastating bill of particulars against the Bush and Cheney administration's insistence on operating outside the rule of law. He has gathered solid information and marshaled a litany of abuses of power that make Richard Nixon's imperial presidency look timid. All thinking Americans must answer How Would A Patriot Act? this coming election, and those who ignore what Greenwald has to say act at our collective peril.

- John W. Dean
Former Nixon White House Counsel and
author of Conservatives Without Conscience

There are many other recommendations like that for the book -- including from Arianna Huffington, Joe Wilson, Simon Rosenberg, Markos Moulitsas, Atrios, and many others.

What I hope will be the book's principal impact is to cast a very bright light on the fact that all of these Bush administration scandals which are always discussed in isolation -- lawless detentions, secret prisons, the use of torture, illegal eavesdropping, etc. -- are merely symptoms of a profound political crisis which our country faces, brought about by the fact that this administration has adopted radical theories of power whereby the President literally and expressly claims the right to act without restraint, including those imposed by law. The powers seized by this president are exactly those powers about which the founders most urgently and explicitly warned, and which they sought, first and foremost, to prevent.

A substantial portion of the book is devoted to highlighting the ways in which the administration has used rank fear-mongering and an endless exploitation of the terrorist threat to attempt to obscure and justify these abuses. Those manipulative tactics have not only enabled them to embrace these most un-American powers right out in the open, but they are also threatening to alter, perhaps irreversibly, our national character.

Perhaps most importantly, the book documents the fact that even when all other intended checks on government excesses fail -- when the media, the Congress and the courts are co-opted or are otherwise neutralized -- Americans always have the ability, inherent in our system of government, to put a stop to abuses and excesses, provided they choose to exercise that power. But to do so, it is necessary that it first be understood just how radical and dangerous our government has become under this administration, and making the case that we have arrived at exactly that point is the primary purpose of the book.

Because the book does not have behind it the huge publicity-generating machines used by corporate publishers, we are relying on more creative ways to generate attention for the book. One of the book's most potent assets is that there are so many people, including regular readers of this blog and other blogs, passionately committed to its ideas and objectives.

When I asked several months ago if anyone would be interested in volunteering to help with research for the book, the response was really overwhelming -- I received hundreds of e-mails offering to help from physicians, lawyers, graduate school professors, teachers, military professionals, police officers, retired people, students and scores of others. Unbeknownst to the media and (seemingly) to the Democratic Party, this administration has created an urgent desire to take a stand in a huge number of people who have not been previously inclined towards political activism. But there are very few vehicles which provide an outlet for that energy.

A blog reader/marketing expert has volunteered to develop and coordinate blog-based efforts to create attention for the book, and if you are interested in helping with that -- and the more, the better -- please e-mail me and I will forward the e-mail to the publisher and to the blog reader. If you have marketing expertise or knowledge and want to help with that, please also e-mail me.

Many books which are independently published find large audiences, even making it onto national best-seller lists, as a result of individuals who publicize the book on their own -- by recommending it on their individual e-mail lists, online groups, etc. Those efforts can be more potent than the conventional publishing world publicity campaigns, so efforts of that sort are definitely encouraged.

Writing posts of this type -- about the blog, about projects like this -- are always the most difficult for me. Marketing and publicity campaigns are not my passion, to put it mildly, and having to promote one's own work can be particularly unpleasant and uncomfortable. But finding ways to put a stop to this administration and its truly threatening excesses has become my passion, along with many other people, and engaging in efforts to ensure that the book finds as large an audience as possible is as important in achieving that goal as was writing the book itself.

I have said many times here -- long before the idea for this book even existed -- that the only thing which I believe can truly derail the administration and preserve the core political values on which our country was founded is for Americans to be informed about what this administration is really doing. I believe that if they realize just how extremist and undemocratic the administration has become, they will not tolerate it. I think anyone who participates in the blogosphere believes that, too, since that is ultimately the defining attribute of blogs -- the belief that citizens can change the lowly state of our political system by circumventing the media and governmental institutions and communicating directly to other people.

Demonstrating to Americans how radical and lawless this administration has become is not difficult -- the undisputed facts make the case by themselves. But the national media barely discusses these issues at all, let alone highlights them. For that reason, I've been arguing that there is no more important objective than persuading Americans of the profound crisis our country faces as a result of this administration's radical theories of its own power. That is the objective that motivated this book, but that can happen only if the book finds as large of an audience as possible beyond the blog world.

UPDATE: Regarding the motivations for undertaking the extensive work involved with daily blogging, pursuing projects like this book, etc., Jane Hamsher last night -- in a very impassioned post regarding the always-staggering fact that the United States government under this administration has systematically and deliberately tortured people -- perfectly described the dynamic that motivates people to act:

I don’t know many in the liberal blogosphere whose advertising revenues generated in the free market (as opposed to the wingnut welfare system) even pay for the maintenance of their sites, and those very few whose sites cover their costs could inarguably be making much more money doing something else.

But there is something so deeply wrong and at such dissonance between the country we grew up to believe in and what this government is now engaged in that its unspoken presence informs every post, every word, even the decision to get up every morning and turn on the computer. To sit back and do nothing while this happens is unthinkable for anyone who genuinely believes in this country and the principles upon which it was founded.

Most of the people from whom I received e-mails offering to help with the book, and most people from whom I receive e-mails about this blog generally, are not partisan or intensely political people. Quite the contrary; most of them have been relatively apolitical or non-ideological for a long time, and have become galvanized only by the purely genuine and deeply felt horror over what our country is becoming under the lawless and morally limitless movement that has governed our country for the last five years. Those reactions are driven by pure passion and they provide ample motivation to act.

UPDATE II: Just from today alone, the book has moved up to #40 on Amazon's best seller list -- annoyingly enough, right below Fox News' Andrew Napolitano's book "The Constitution in Exile," but (at least) right above "Ultrametabolism: The Simple Plan for Automatic Weight Loss". It is the top-selling not-yet-released book on the list. The list of books #26-50 are here. My book may move from that page if it moves up or down; its current number is always reflected on the book page itself, which is here. (UPDATE: It is now at #30 #24 #16 #12 #5 #3). The list of # 1-25 is here.

That is exactly the kind of push that can create a lot of opportunities for visibility for this book -- so thank you to those who ordered it, and for those who are considering doing so, your pre-ordering it can really help maximize the impact which this book can have on our ongoing political debates.

UPDATE III: The inimitable Digby, who read the manuscript for the book shortly before it was finalized, has written a review of the book, which -- as one would expect -- is a review highly worth reading on its own.

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