Book News Explores the rise of litigation in America, looking at our culture of unreasonably high expectations, the role of publicity, and litigation's relation to the therapy culture. For general readers. Annotation c. by Book News, Inc., Portland, Or.
Blackwell North Amer A Nation of Adversaries: How the Litigation Explosion Is Reshaping America brilliantly examines why our culture has been increasingly crowding courthouses and fueling the growth of the lawyer population, pitting us against each other. Dr. Patrick Garry, an expert on the effect of the courts on American society, insightfully points out that our growing litigant-oriented mindset is reinforcing a self-centered culture of undue expectation and entitlement. The workplace, the classroom, the bedroom, and even the playground are becoming more combative. With increasing gridlock, acrimony, and ideological warfare, the political arena has especially come to resemble more a courtroom than an arena for concordance. The values supporting democracysuch as compromise and consensus - have been subverted by tenacity and aggressiveness. In light of the new litigation democracy, the individual's right to sue is valued more than his or her right to vote. The author also analyzes how the publicity bestowed upon specific lawsuits "teaches" the public to identify and assert new ways of being a victim. As a result, employees are victims of their employers, children victims of their parents, and students victims of their teachers. In encouraging new types of victim-plaintiffs and promising lucrative rewards to potential victims, litigation also fuels the fire of therapy culture. For a society obsessed with psychic healing and emotional recovery, litigation is seen as a logical continuation of the healing process begun in a therapist's office. Increasingly open to novel theories of psychological injuries, the courts are reinforcing the therapeutic bent so prevalent in sensationalistic talk shows and recovery programs. A Nation of Adversaries is a candid look at litigation's invasion into our once formally mindful society, and is a shrewd commentary on the creation of a new culture of identity in America.