The Patriot Act
A Documentary and Reference Guide
by Herbert N. Foerstel
December 2007, 256pp, 8 1/2x11
1 volume, Greenwood

Hardcover: 978-0-313-34142-7
$72, £54, 60€, A103
eBook Available: 978-1-56720-686-9
Please contact your preferred eBook vendor for pricing.

Provides insight into the federal government’s rationale for domestic surveillance and the political and public response to the unprecedented federal powers acquired through the USA PATRIOT Act.

This easy-to-use core reference takes on the biggest issue of our day: freedom of speech in post-9/11 America. No issue is more important to Americans—and especially to librarians—than the Patriot Act. The Patriot Act is one of the longest, broadest, most sweeping pieces of legislation in American history. It introduced a vast edifice of domestic surveillance that has defined the post-9/11 world. But the legislation itself is so massive and technical that both supporters and critics have been free to interpret it loosely and in partisan fashion. Supporters of the Patriot Act believe that 9/11 irreversibly changed American politics and law enforcement, forcing every citizen to cede some traditional civil liberties in order to protect the nation from terrorism. Critics respond that many provisions of the Patriot Act were simply resurrected from old FBI wish lists, having no relevance to the war on terror and providing little security in exchange for precious liberties. This book will not silence the raging debate over the Patriot Act, but by presenting relevant source documents, analyzed and placed in context, it may provide a more reliable basis for the ongoing debate.


"Clearly organized and well focused, this work's eight chapters provide insight into the development, passage, and eventual reauthorization of the Patriot Act. Access to the materials is typical of a reference work, with a straightforward table of contents and index. Other beginning researcher-friendly features include bulleted introductions to key documents and a further readings section....The jewels are the 64 primary source documents culled from statutes, debates, transcripts of press conferences and interviews, and position papers from such groups as the ACLU....[T]his readable, informative work finds a niche. Recommended. Lower- and upper-level undergraduates; general readers."—Choice, August 1, 2008

"This pair of documentary guides brings together selected primary source materials on two complementary topics....both of these titles are recommended for libraries serving advance high-school and undergraduate college researchers. (Reviewed with Islamism)."—Booklist, August 1, 2008

Documentary and Reference Guides

Expertly chosen primary source documents, analytical commentary, and comprehensive study resources present Americans grappling directly with complex social and political issues in ways that have had a deep and lasting impact on contemporary society.

Students often are unaware that hotly contested public debates have deep historical roots. Intended to allow readers to engage with history and discover the development of controversial social and political issues over time, the Documentary and Reference Guides series introduces such issues through carefully chosen primary source documents.

The documents analyzed in these volumes encourage critical thinking, offering fresh perspectives as they sweep away preconceptions and restore immediacy to debates that may have become stale. They encourage students to explore for themselves how important issues came to be framed as they are and to consider how contemporary discussion might advance beyond the assumptions and hardened positions of the past.


  • 50–100 primary source documents, topically and chronologically organized, including excerpts from legislation, U.S. Supreme Court decisions, manifestos, broadcast statements, such controversial writings as Thomas Paine's pamphlets and excerpts from the Federalist Papers, and personal writings, such as letters
  • 15–25 photographs
  • Accessible analysis sections and lively sidebars illuminating documents that are crucial to the subject, but relatively legalistic or technical
  • A Reader's Guide to the Documents and Sidebars, organized by subject, to enable readers to pursue particular lines of inquiry through more than one chapter
  • A comprehensive, annotated, general resources section supporting student research needs
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