Beyond Fear: Required reading for Ashcroft's America

I've spent the past week at a writers' retreat in an undisclosed location (I'm still here!). It's been insanely productive. I've written a 21,000-word novella, rewritten two partial novels, worked on my latest collaboration with Charlie Stross, critiqued about 20 stories, read a friend's book and critiqued it, and caught up on some reading (and I've still got three days left, and still to come: nonfiction book proposal, rewrite the new novella, and catch up on other projects and projectlets).

One of the books I'm delighted to have had the chance to read here is Bruce Schneier's latest, Beyond Fear: Thinking Sensibly About Security in an Uncertain World. I reviewed three or four drafts of this while Bruce was working on it, and I am completely delighted with how it turned out.

In Beyond Fear, Schneier has utterly demystified the idea of security with a text aimed squarely at nontechnical individuals. He takes his legendary skill at applying common sense and lucidity to information-security problems and applies it to all the bogeymen of the post-9/11 world, and asks the vital question: What are we getting in exchange for the liberties that the Ashcroftian authorities have taken away from us in the name of security?

This is possibly the most important question of this decade, and that makes Schenier's book one of the most important texts of the decade. This should be required reading for every American, and the world would be a better place if anyone venturing an opinion on electronic voting, airline security, roving wiretaps, or any other modern horror absorbed this book's lessons first.