Book Review: Beyond Fear

The Bottom Line

This is an excellent addition to what seems to be an emerging genre of books—those about national security or the lack thereof. Bruce Schneier gives a plain-English and well thought out overview of the security measures that have been implemented since the 9/11 terrorist attacks. He points out that security and liberty are not mutually exclusive. I recommend this book for anyone. It is important that we, as citizens, understand these issues so we can make informed decisions.


  • Excellent and timely information
  • Non-techies and techies alike can understand this book
  • Good primer for performing security or risk analysis


  • Somewhat redundant in parts


  • Schneier uses plain-English and great examples to illustrate his points
  • Freedoms have been stripped in the name of “security”—this book shows why that is unnecessary
  • Simple guidelines for assessing the risk to an asset and an appropriate security response
  • This is a timely and thought-provoking book that all U.S. citizens should read

Guide Review—Book Review: Beyond Fear

In the wake of the 9/11 terrorist attacks there have been many changes to how national security is handled. Many of these changes have directly impacted our civil liberties or freedoms as United States citizens. Our elected officials and government organizations push these sweeping changes with a “sky is falling” mantra and claims that only by limiting freedoms and expanding the authority of law enforcement and government agencies can security be assured.

Bruce Schneier’s book—Beyond Fear—helps those citizens understand how these trade-offs really work and to see that freedom and security are not necessarily opposite sides of the coin. Schneier uses language that anyone can understand and excellent examples to illustrate how to assess the risks and determine whether a given security measure will help—or possibly even do more harm than good.

One of my favorite chapters is Chapter 2—Security Trade-Offs Are Subjective. He gives example after example of how what seems like a risk to one person is no risk at all to another person and how, often, one’s fear of that risk is not supported by logic. For example, he states “commercial airplanes are perceived as riskier than automobiles, because the controls are in someone else’s hands—even though they’re much safer per passenger mile.”

In this post 9/11 era there have been many changes in the name of security. People need to read this book to understand just what sort of security they are trading their freedom for.

Categories: Beyond Fear, Text

Sidebar photo of Bruce Schneier by Joe MacInnis.