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on 13 June 2007
When I read "From cake-eating protests to roof-clambering OAPs..." I thought this book was a just collection of humourous stories about eccentric Brits but I was wrong - don't dismiss it as a book of funny tales. Yes, there's lots of humour - I've laughed out loud several times already (and I'm only half-way through it) - but it's so much more. Finally, someone dares to use that rarely-heard word: commonsense!

Dan Kieren looks at real problems and talks to the people who are trying to do something about them. Not the politicians, the professionals or anyone in power, but the people who are standing up for what they believe in - despite having no real voice and despite being at odds with a government whose current thinking labels them as crackpots and troublemakers.

If you're despairing at the current state of the UK, if you have even an inkling of a doubt that the government has its citizens' best interests at heart or if you've ever wondered at the sheer crassness of the legal system, then read this book.

It's refreshingly truthful, funny, warm and full of commonsense.
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on 8 July 2008
Having been concerned about the erosion of civil liberties, particularly in the light of the recent 42-day detention issue, I saw this and couldn't resist: and the situation is worse than I feared!

This book is funny, but it's also scary; it shows us how we're sleepwalking in (not into, in: we're already there) a situation where anyone can be stopped and searched for no reason (the Government enacted legislation enabling the police to stop and search anyone for no reason under exceptional circumstances for a month at a time: that legislation has been renewed every month in Greater London since 2002!)

He also lists the ten most ridiculous laws, not saying that they are rdiculous per se, but that the heavy-handed and ill-thought-out laws have unintended and ridiculous consequences:

'Sex Offences Act 2003... Section 9 prohibits sexual contact with a child (obviously not ridiculous) 'but when applied with Section 13... it actually makes it a criminal offence for two teenagers to snog'. This was bad enough, but when I mentioned it in passing to a solicitor friend, she said that she had personally dealt with people actually prosecuted for, basically, a teenage snog in the park.'

It's a real eye-opener. Anyone who has given any thought at all to the disregarding of 800 years of legal rights as enshrined in the Magna Carta will read this and realise that it's much worse than they thought.
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on 3 November 2008
I'll be honest: I didn't expect much from this book. I thought it would be entertaining enough; offbeat, amusing, with doses of snarky political observation. It certainly delivered on those counts, and for much of the journey I was lulled by the unpretentious clarity of Kieran's style into thinking there would, indeed, be nothing more.

But (of course) I was wrong. I Fought the Law is more than entertaining; it's also wise. It is clear-eyed in its assessment of how badly Britain's communities need fixing, and espouses an uncomfortable and far-reaching solution which is self-consciously at odds with so many of our other current cultural influences, but it is also radically hopeful about the possibility of social change. It centres personal action, individual empowerment and individual connections, at the heart of political progress. And so despite all my preconceptions, I actually found this book remarkably inspiring. I'd strongly recommend it.
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on 8 July 2008
You should definitely read this book, it is an essential slice of the madness that is Britain today. But when I had finished it I felt a little underwhelmed, a little unsure, as if it somehow didn't fully explain something. Odd, but there you go.
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on 14 September 2009
A really important and inspiring book. Revolutions occur when people start to change their minds, and I'm starting to change mine.

Let's hope the government gets the message about the erosion of civil liberties.
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on 15 June 2008
An excellent read, made me laugh, angry and cry with despair at some of the laws we've now got.
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on 4 June 2007
This book provides a crucial insight into the insidious erosion of our civil liberties which should worry every citizen of this country interested in actually living in a democracy. Dan explores this serious subject with humour and humanity - a must read!
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on 22 April 2012
Published in 2007 under a "New" Labour government, this work complains (rightly) about the excessive measures taken for our own good against civil liberties in order to defeat a nominal number of terrorists who are amongst us. Put your own double quotes in there; "for our own good" might be a start.

However there was a General Election in 2010; the result was a coalition between Conservative and LibDem. Not one of the "Worst Laws" have been repealed or even modified. Kieran should update this extremely good book to show explictly what hypocrites our Government (of whatever colour) is.

It might also be a good thing if he were to acknowledge that wind power depends on winds which don't blow all the time - his knowledge about "renewable" energy appears to be based upon a rather facile and romantic view of the UK's energy sources.

By the way, the modern King Arthur is very well covered in In Search of the English Eccentric: A Journey
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on 15 December 2012
When picking up some books from the library recently I was intrigued with I Fought The Law by Dan Kieran. The book describes itself as Dan attempting to spend a year trying to break as many stupid old laws as he could find, for your amusement. As examples of some of the silly laws that the UK still has, it highlights how it is still illegal to beat a carpet in the Metropolitan Police District, to take possession of a beached whale or to get within a hundred yards of the Queen without wearing socks.

My problem is that the book doesn't deliver on this promise. Instead Dan begins to focus on the issue of `Freedom of Speech' and whilst the ideas he has are things I would agree with - for example the banning of protests on the green by the Houses of Parliament - the book just seems to become a slow exploration of this law.

The concept for the book is a good one, but at 336 pages it is too long. It just becomes a series of stories around the theme of "ooh look at me, I might get arrested!" which doesn't really get to the bottom of why the laws are still in existence or what could be done to change them.

The book was written in 2007 under the "New" Labour government, it would be interesting to read an essay on how he feels the situation has changed since the 2010 election with the coalition of Conservatives and Liberal Democrats in power.
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on 4 April 2014
Starts off a bit slow - i thought it would be more exciting and it's out of date now as we are in a new Government.
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