Fear of terrorism, crime, social chaos - factors which have put our ideal of individual liberty very much into retreat. Particularly in light of the debate surrounding 42-day detention, it is important to remind ourselves of just how complex the battle to achieve these rights has been. However, the question remains; how can we resist the growth of intrusive authoritarianism without exposing ourselves to crime, terrorism and other risks?
History provides a guide to answering this question. What Price Liberty? takes us through four centuries of British, American and European history, elaborating not just how civil liberties were constructed in the past, but how they were continually rethought - and re-fought - in response to modernity, and puts into context the controversies of the past decade or so. If liberty is to survive now, it must again adapt to new circumstances, but it is up to us all to agree upon the value we place on it.
An essential and utterly enlightening discussion, What Price Liberty? provides the material and arguments with which we can make sense of our times.
Ben Wilson was born in 1980 and studied history at Pembroke College, Cambridge - both as an undergraduate and postgraduate. His first book, The Laughter of Triumph: William Hone and the Fight for the Free Press, was published by Faber in 2005 to universal acclaim. This was followed in 2007 by Decency and Disorder: The Age of Cant 1789-1837.