I have no hesitation in giving Professor Grayling's book five stars.
It is an education and vigorous refresher for anyone who recognises names like Spinoza, Locke, Voltaire, Milton, de Tocqueville, but has only a hazy understanding of what they stand for, and only a patchy idea of the significance of the Glorious English Revolution of 1688, the Enlightenment, and the American and French revolutions, but has now in these times an uneasy feeling that the ideas and principles underpinning free societies are in danger. In three hundred well written pages he explains it all.
I will let others extol the virtues of the book and here draw attention to one serious flaw, or to be kind to the author, to draw attention to an issue on which I wish he had said a lot more.
His priorities are wrong.
The book is exactly what it says it is "The Story of the Struggles for Liberty & Rights" but the opening and closing chapters discuss the threats to Liberty that we face today.
In the opening chapter he poses the question, in relation to the growing Muslim population in Europe, of how we deal with those whose ideas on Liberty and Rights are different from ours and who if they got their way would bring an end to the Liberty that we have painfully gained over the last 500 years. He doesn't answer this question.
Mistakenly, in my view, in these opening and closing chapters he concentrates on the threats to Liberty posed by the anti-terrorist measures taken by the US and UK governments.
As awful and as worrying some of these anti-terrorist measures are  they can at least be discussed. Your life will not be threatened, the Politically Correct (PC) roof will not fall on your head, respected national figures can and do state their views. But, these measures and the terrorism that brings them about are only symptoms, symptoms of an underlying religious malaise, and that is Islam as it manifests itself in the world today.
He could say a lot more about the threat to Liberty from Islam. Perhaps his views are constrained by the observations he makes in relation to the persecution of minorities in Nazi Germany.
Religion is a very sensitive subject . It is a sobering thought that a US presidential candidate who said openly that he wasn't too sure about God or that he was an atheist, wouldn't stand a chance. Could it be that the authors of the American Constitution, a beacon of Liberty, would be rejected by today's American voters?
Could we discuss openly and have a debate at a respected political level of the problems and potential problems caused by Islam in Liberal societies, and, in the way we discuss measures to combat terrorism, discuss what we should and will do about it. I fear not.
We have started 2008 in the UK with a prime example of the difficulties. The Bishop of Rochester has drawn attention to the self-segregation of Muslims in the UK and the enclaves they have created which he says have become "no go" areas for Christians.
Of course, the bishop's use of the term "no-go" was a mistake. It has too many wrong meanings. The PC roof has fallen on his head, political figures from right, left and centre are falling over themselves to criticise or distance themselves from the bishop.
But the bishop is essentially right. There are a growing number of places of increasing size in the UK where the culture around you is Islamic. Mohamed in its various spellings is now the most popular name for a boy in the UK. The bishop didn't say it, so I will say it for him. It wont be long before these Islamic communities will be demanding Sharia law. It is already happening on an informal level. What then Liberty?
Not all Muslims, perhaps only a minority, believe and practice the aspects of their religion that are so inimical to free societies:
- women are essentially male possessions
- death is a just punishment for apostasy and insulting Islam or the prophet
- that Islam trumps all other religions
- Muslims have a sacred duty to impose Islam, by force if necessary
to name a few of the worst. But these beliefs and practices cast a dark shadow wherever Muslims live.
The bodies that claim to represent Muslim in western countries are usually part of the problem. Smart suits and PR officials are no guarantee of a modern outlook or reasonableness.
The secretary general of the Muslim Council of Britain when asked `Is stoning ever justified?' replied `It depends what sort of stoning and what circumstances". He also thinks arranged marriages are a good idea and we in the UK should try them. His predecessor, whom the UK government rubbed shoulders with, is notorious for having said of Salman Rushdie that death was too good for him.
Perhaps a very great danger for us is not having a clear idea of what or who represents a form of Islam that can truly be part of a Liberal society 
These are the sorts of issues that I wish Professor Grayling had given more space to and, from his philosophical standpoint, offered some ideas on how they can be dealt with.
 That a high American official made out a case for torture must have had Torquemada laughing in his grave.
 Professor Grayling is spot on in his criticism of the UK ID card scheme. I speak with some authority having studied the subject. Prof Grayling refers readers to the press in general to learn more about this nonsense, to which I would add and strongly recommend the Report and Evidence published by the UK Parliamentary Committee concerned with home affairs. The pages of my copy are stained with tears of laughter and rage.
 Having read this book I checked out Amazon readers comments on other works by Prof Grayling. I was shocked at the virulence of some of the attacks on him because he is, apparently, an atheist.
 Irshad Manjii in an excellent review of "Arguing the Just War in Islam" a recent book by John Kelsay, writes:
The moderates whom Kelsay has studied "do not in fact dissent from the militant judgement that current political arrangements are illegitimate. Some moderates agree with militants that "democracy" implies a kind of moral equivalence between Islam and other perspectives. And such a situation is dangerous not only for the standing of the Muslim community, but for the moral life of humankind"
[International Herald Tribune, 5-6 January, 2008]
I would add to this that 25 percent of UK Muslims sympathised with the London bombers.