Book Reviews 5.1


Earlier this year we asked five of our staff members to review the most recent Nader publications. Our view that some sort of consensus on the Nader series might thus be reached turned out to be mistaken: these books are not of one cloth. However, one or two observations seem warranted. The reviews point up what is perhaps the most serious shortcoming readers will encounter in this series-the piecemeal approach to reform. No one theoretical viewpoint knits these volumes, or any single volume, together. The editors detail “problems” and offer (in less detail) “solutions.” Yet, there is little sense of system in their grasp of, or in their response to, American social, economic, and political ills.

In consequence, it is never quite clear to whom these books are addressed. Casual readers may be engaged by the sharply-told accounts of corporate and governmental misdeeds. No doubt interest groups will underscore some passages as useful polemical texts. Bureaucrats and planners may glean an occasional policy insight. The general reader may be put off by the ponderous footnoting. The professional will call for more and redder scholarly meat. Some will find the prescribed reforms too tame, others too radical. In short, there is a little something here for everyone, but not quite enough to satisfy anyone.

Perhaps Nader would here point out that his purpose is to begin, not to end, debate; to energize the impulse to reform, not to dictate what ultimate form it should take. Perhaps Nader aims to steer that middle course between academic respectability and popular acclaim, satisfied to evoke from as wide a readership as possible no more (but no less) than the hopeful response, “Yes, change there must be.” If that is his aim, then we might simply wish him success–and reserve our subtler criticisms for the more ample debate to follow.

Suggested Reading

Includes reviews of: Disorder in the Court: Report of the Association of the Bar of the City of New York, Special Committee on Courtroom Conduct, by Norman Dorsen and Leon Friedman (1973), The Limits of Corporate Responsibility, by Neil W.

Includes reviews of: The Open Prison, by Sol Charles (1973), Women in Prison, by Kathryn Burkhart (1973), The Rights of Children: Emergent Concepts in Law and Society, edited by Albert E. Wilkerson (1973), The Law and the Poor, by Frank

Includes reviews of: Politics, Policy, and Natural Resources, edited by Dennis L. Thompson (1972), Papers on the War, by Daniel Ellsberg (1972), Urban Land Use Policy: The Central City, edited by Richard B. Andrews (1972), Payoff: The Role of Organized

Reviews of the following books: A Bill of No Rights: Attica and the American Prison System, by Herman Badillo and Milton Haynes (1972), Counsel for the Deceived: Case Studies in Consumer Fraud, by Phillip G. Schrag (1972), Medina, by Mary

Reviews of the following books: Youth Up in Arms by George Paloczi-Horvath (1971), Up Against the Corporate Wall by S. Prakash Sethi (1971), The Concern for Community in Urban America by Bert E. Swanson (1970), Justice Denied: The Black Man in White