Inventing Human Rights: A History (Paperback)

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“A tour de force.”—Gordon S. Wood, New York Times Book Review


How were human rights invented, and how does their tumultuous history influence their perception and our ability to protect them today? From Professor Lynn Hunt comes this extraordinary cultural and intellectual history, which traces the roots of human rights to the rejection of torture as a means for finding the truth. She demonstrates how ideas of human relationships portrayed in novels and art helped spread these new ideals and how human rights continue to be contested today.

About the Author


Lynn Hunt is Distinguished Research Professor at UCLA, former president of the American Historical Association, and author of numerous works, including Inventing Human Rights and Telling the Truth about History. She lives in Los Angeles.

Praise For…


Elegant... intriguing, if not audacious... Hunt is an astute historian.
— Joanna Bourke - Harper's

Fast-paced, provocative, and ultimately optimistic. Declarations, she writes, are not empty words but transformative; they make us want to become the people they claim we are.
— The New Yorker

A provocative and engaging history of the political impact of human rights.
— Gary J. Bass - New Republic

This is a wonderful story of the emergence and development of the powerful idea of human rights, written by one of the leading historians of our time.
— Amartya Sen

Rich, elegant, and persuasive.
— London Review of Books

As Americans begin to hold their leaders accountable for the mistakes made in the war against terror, this book ought to serve as a guide to thinking about one of the most serious mistakes of all, the belief that America can win that war by revoking the Declaration that brought the nation into being.
— Alan Wolfe - Commonweal


Product Details
ISBN: 9780393331998
ISBN-10: 0393331997
Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company
Publication Date: April 17th, 2008
Pages: 272
Language: English