Inventing Human Rights

A History

Lynn Hunt (Author, UCLA)

Overview | Inside the Book

“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.

Book Details

  • Paperback
  • April 2008
  • ISBN 978-0-393-33199-8
  • 5.5 × 8.3 in / 272 pages
  • Sales Territory: Worldwide

Endorsements & Reviews

“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

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