A People's Charter: The Pursuit of Rights in America

James MacGregor Burns, Author, Stewart Burns, With
James MacGregor Burns, Author, Stewart Burns, With Alfred A. Knopf $30 (577p) ISBN 978-0-394-57763-0
Paperback - 592 pages - 978-0-679-74172-5
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Published on the 200th anniversary of the ratification of the Bill of Rights, this grand, sweeping chronicle of the struggle for political and economic justice concludes that rights measures in the U.S. have been ``too little, too late, too short-lived.'' Pulitzer Prize-winning historian James MacGregor Burns ( The Crossroads of Freedom ) and Stewart Burns ( Social Movements of the 1960s ) examine our tenuous hold on freedom in a powerful narrative stretching from the 13 colonies' exclusionist voting practices to Reagan's campaign against the First Amendment reinforced by private ``new right'' groups and fundamentalists. They also analyze antislavery and workers' struggles, the detention of more than 100,000 Japanese-Americans in U.S. ``concentration camps'' (as FDR called them) during WW II, McCarthy-era abuses, civil rights, women's activism and encroachments by the FBI on personal freedoms. The authors point out that rights long accepted in other countries--to free, adequate health care; to a job; to child care--are largely lacking in the U.S. They envisage a ``Great Majority'' dependent on women's leadership coming to power and establishing a massive rights program. (Dec.)
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