Download PDF The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America from Slavery to the War on Terror

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History is a Weapon Recommended Reading List No current Talk conversations about this book. Alas, I got something far less interesting and far less useful than that. I had high hopes for the book because the first chapter uses a number of Michel Foucault's concepts from "Discipline and Punish" and elsewhere. That's all to the good, as Foucault has some fascinating and ground-breaking things to say about the topic of privacy and state surveillance of the individual. But it goes downhill from there. A layman's discussion of Foucault as a centralizing principle for the book would have worked, but Parenti fails to return to the ideas he raises in the first chapter.

The Soft Cage: Surveillance in America From Slavery to the War on Terror

At times, the various chapters seem like interesting case studies or digressions that are never strung together or connected into a meaningful whole. We get some nice info on antebellum slave passes, early attempts at collecting biometric data, and surveillance as a tool to exclude Asian immigration, but what does it all mean?

I wanted to see someone objectively analyze the government's efforts to increase its domestic intelligence collection capabilities and examine what the impact of these efforts is on the average citizen's privacy. After all, the author promised to do as much.


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But no. We didn't get that here. Parenti ought to be ashamed of himself in this chapter.

There are a lot of ideas in that sentence and it needs to be unpacked and explored, piece-by-piece, with evidence brought to bear to support the author's contentions. If one of my college students wrote that on a paper, I'd give them a failing grade. This book is sorely lacking in a thesis; heck, some connective tissues for the various chapters would have gone a long way.

In the end, it's written fairly journalistically and without a well-formed argument that is discussed and proven. Home Books Truthdig Contributors. Buy Now from Amazon. Product prices and availability are accurate as of UTC and are subject to change.

The Soft Cage

Product Information more info. Manufacturer Description On a typical day, you might make a call on a cell phone, withdraw money at an ATM, visit the mall, and make a purchase with a credit card. Each of these routine transactions leaves a digital trail for government agencies and businesses to access. As cutting-edge historian and journalist Christian Parenti points out, these everyday intrusions on privacy, while harmless in themselves, are part of a relentless and clandestine expansion of routine surveillance in American life over the last two centuries-from controlling slaves in the old South to implementing early criminal justice and tracking immigrants.

Parenti explores the role computers are playing in creating a whole new world of seemingly benign technologies-such as credit cards, website "cookies," and electronic toll collection-that have expanded this trend in the twenty-first century. The "off" amount and percentage simply signifies the calculated difference between the seller-provided price for the item elsewhere and the seller's price on eBay. Skip to main content. We're sorry, something went wrong. Please try again.

Soft Cage Surveillance in America from Slavery to the War on Terror

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    Add to cart. Be the first to write a review About this product. About this product Product Information On a typical day, you might make a call on a cell phone, withdraw money at an ATM, visit the mall, and make a purchase with a credit card.