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Freedom for Sale: How We Made Money and Lost Our Liberty Hardcover – 3 Sep 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster UK (3 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743275403
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743275408
  • Product Dimensions: 15.3 x 2.4 x 23.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,238,591 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

'A wake-up call for the Dr Faust in all of us' -- Rory Bremner

'In this timely book John Kampfner challenges the easy assumption that freedom and democracy inevitably go hand in hand with security and prosperity. This is a stimulating, provocative and important book'
-- John Humphrys

'Liberty has never felt so threatened. This is the big question which Kampfner rightly identifies and dissects with the precision of a master surgeon. Read this book if you want to know just how much is at stake' -- Misha Glenny

Review

'Liberty has never felt so threatened. This is the big question which Kampfner rightly identifies and dissects with the precision of a master surgeon. Read this book if you want to know just how much is at stake'

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
I am a great fan of BLAIR'S WARS and so I had high expectations for this book, and I am happy to say I was not disappointed. This is a comprehensive and often very alarming survey of the state of democracy in the world today. The whole book has been immaculately researched and Kampfner makes his case clearly and persuasively. I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in global politics at what is such an extraordinary time in world history.
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Format: Hardcover
An intriguing book that examines how democracy and capitalism have been undermined by unscrupulous governments across the world - most notably our own. Kampfner raises tough questions that, luckily, he's deft enough to answer, and the resounding silence after the book is finished is enough to raise even scarier prospects: such as, if we're willing to disregard civil liberties in pursuit of wealth, how long many can be taken before we no longer have the right to choose?

A fascinating, insightful and intelligent argument. Well worth a purchase.
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Format: Hardcover
John Kampfner has written an insightful book about the perennial political issue of how the powerful threaten personal liberty, and not just by traditional methods of coercion. These days, he suggests, we have traded our liberties in return for permission to get stinking rich. And if some must suffer the consequences it will be surprisingly few, to encourage the others, and certainly not us. He explores the buy-in culture in Singapore, where it is just not done to criticize those in authority, and the way in which almost universal CCTV surveillance has become a silent fact of life for a seemingly anaesthetized British public. His survey also takes in countries as diverse as China and the USA. As a Russia buff, his Moscow chapter is particularly well-researched and deeply felt, showing Putin in particular as ruthless power-grabber, sustained by lackeys growing rich on his patronage. Kampfner is a born radical and his book is an impassioned plea to us to keep tight hold of our liberties or lose them by default.
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Format: Hardcover
When a book is described as "important" on its front cover, it's usually shorthand for "worthy, but dull"; "provocative" indicates "codswallop", etc. Not so in this case. Kampfner has written a book which is both absolutely vital to our political debate and full of penetrating and incontestable insights, but also vividly entertaining. He's got the journalist's nose for the killer quote and the novelist's eye for the telling detail which brings meaning and context. It's full of anecdote and colour and is well-written. The subject may be politics, but this is no dry, academic treatise. The range of people he quotes is huge. His access in Russia is particularly valuable. You don't have to agree with everything he says -- in particular the perculiar idea that those on the "Left" are somehow automatically more interested in liberty than those on the "Right" is a bit Islington. But this book needs to be read. And taken much further, whether by Kampfner or by others. We are in danger of sleepwalking into something seriously unpleasant.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
A thoroughly engaging insight into a number of countries around the world like India, Singapore, China, Russia, the UAE, the UK and the US, shining a light and finding many ugly political truths. Corruption, chaos and hypocrisy as standard here as we delve into the politics of each country. This is good, sharp polemical writing up there with people like Greg Palast and Christopher Hitchens.
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Format: Paperback
In the conclusion the author writes: "The preeminent freedom has become financial - to earn, to keep one's money and consume." The missing half is that hundreds of millions escaped from abject poverty, with no clean drinking water, sewage disposal, healthcare, education, hunger and decent jobs. Freedom did not exist for these millions. It is nevertheless interesting and worthwhile to know about journalists whose freedom was restricted in unjust ways, to the point of being killed..
It is a problem that some journalists do not act in accordance with the Code of ethics from the Society of Professional Ethics that states, "Professional Integrity is the cornerstone of a journalist's credibility". This includes "Giving the subjects the opportunity to respond to allegations of wrong doing" and "Admit mistakes and correct them promptly". Some journalists do not follow these principles. Some publish stories without a sound basis where the purpose appears to be to cause sensations and increase newspaper sales, and having made an mistake, refuse to admit it and where in addition the newspaper refuses to publish a response from the person accused of wrong actions.
Newspapers are still the moat important and trusted form of information to the people at large. This book is right about that governments should change policies that prevent journalists from finding out and publishing the truth as long as they follow their ethical standards that include, quotes from the Code, "Shun political involvement and "Imposing their own cultural values on others."
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The journalist John Kampfner examines in turn a wide range of modern states which have to varying degrees traded personal freedom for the promise of increased security, prosperity or both.

He opens with a fascinating chapter on Singapore, the self-styled "most successful state in the history of humanity" where Lee Kuan Yew has micro-managed his state to create a well-behaved, conformist population, in which extreme poverty has been eradicated, people are kept happy with shopping and recreational facilities, and alarm bells only begin to ring when you realise that free speech is trammelled, dissenters are harshly punished, and the rate of capital punishment is "regarded as secret" but said to be among the highest in the world. As a local sociologist observes, "Understanding the limits of freedom is what makes freedom possible". As Kampfner adds, "perhaps it depends on which freedoms and which limits."

Subsequent chapters cover China and Russia, where the West made the cardinal error of assuming that the encouragement of the free market after the collapse of communism would automatically lead to greater democracy. Then we move on to the "consumer excess" of the United Arab Emirates, supported by near-slave immigrant labour, the "functioning anarchy" of India, and Italy under Berlusconi.

The next section on Britain with a focus on the development of the "surveillance state" under Blair, seems the least successful, perhaps because the details are already familiar but too condensed and partial.
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