I have never read a book more enlightening with respect to how the world of humans works - and how it got to work that way. It starts with a very broad overview of the concept of the Rule of Law:
"...that all persons and authorities within the state, whether public or private, should be bound by and entitled to the benefit of laws publicly made, taking effect (generally ) in the future and publicly administered in the courts."
and its origins and formulation:
"It is better for the law to rule than one of the citizens" - Aristotle
and what happens when it fails:
"The hallmarks of a regime which flouts the rule of law are, alas, all too familiar: the midnight knock on the door, the sudden disappearance, the show trial, the subjection of prisoners to genetic experiment, the confession extracted by torture...."
The second chapter describes the legal milestones in its development from the Magna Carta to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. A key feature is that it seems few of the participants thought they were being especially innovative. The bulk of the book is concerned with working through the various aspects such as due process and a fair trial. A lot of attention is paid to human rights and I was actually surprised how uncontroversial they should be. It becomes obvious that really not even the poorest countries have any excuse not to uphold these ideals.
Inevitably there is a long chapter on the US and UK response to the terrorism, in which it becomes clear that both countries in different ways have helped the terrorist cause by gnawing away at our liberty. There is a final chapter on the peculiar situation of the Westminster Parliament, whose sovreignty means that the Briton's liberty could theoretically be undermined by the will of that Parliament.
Altogether this is a surprisingly readable book - and one which must be extremely useful to any skeptical reader wanting to know what is really at stake in the world of law.