Interview with Daniel J. Baum, Author of Understanding the Law Series

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Interview with Daniel J. Baum, Author of Understanding the Law Series

Posted on June 17 by Daniel J. Baum
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Daniel J. Baum, is the author of the Understanding the Law series. The first three books in the series are: Youth and the Law, Freedom of Expression, and Crime Scene Investigations. Daniel answered a few questions for us about his new series of books.

How did you come up with the idea for this work?

Daniel: Law sets rules under which we live. There is a need to understand the values inherent in the rules. Often those values are stated and applied by the highest court in the land, the Supreme Court of Canada, in real cases involving real people.

For the most part, these cases are minimally reported either as to the facts or the law. It's difficult for a television viewer to get to the guts of a case in a three-minute news insert. And, it's only marginally better when a newspaper gives even a full column to coverage. 

Having taught law to law students for more than thirty years, and having served as an arbitrator, a human rights adjudicator, and a government advisor, I have seen the need to bring law to the people in a non-judgmental way so that they can understand, shape their own opinions, and act as citizens taking responsibility for the kind of society in which they want to live.

Did you have a specific readership in mind when you wrote this book?

Daniel: Yes, I had in mind young adults, the elderly, and especially those who see citizenship as both an honour and a responsibility that continually is subject to redefinition as our society evolves. This should mean that the series will be taken seriously; that it will be discussed; and that the readers will form their own opinions. What the readers will not get from the author are firmly stated views of what the law should be.

What was your first publication?

Daniel: My first book, published in 1965 (Syracuse University Press), was The SIlent Partners: Institutional Investors and Corporate Control. It was widely purchased and well reviewed, including extensive coverage in the The New York Times financial section, and also The Guardian, The Times of London, and The Washington Post. The book went through two printings and a Japanese edition. It dealt with the essence of corporate power and our capacity to control that power. This was a subject that I developed to varying degrees in more than one hundred law review articles in leading journals over a period of decades. 

Since that time, I have written nineteen books. Several were directed toward secondary school civics programs and received certification from ministries of education in Ontario, Quebec (French language), British Columbia, Saskatchewan, Alberta, and Manitoba. The model developed in Canada was carried to the United States and applied to American law. Both the Canadian and American versions went through two editions. All of these books went through and passed the test of "readability" as laid down by the various ministries. My books may be found in the collections of the public library systems of Toronto, Ottawa, London, Calgary, Edmonton, Vancouver -- among others.

What inspired your first book?

Daniel: I have had an interest in democratic government for many years. To me, this has meant citizens having the right to exert control over their government and the duty to be informed and to act responsibly. My writing has been directed toward these ends.

What is your new project?

Daniel: First Peoples: First Nations, Metis, and Inuit -- Points of Light. This is a work about hope, not despair. It is not about broken treaties or down-trodden peoples. It is about hope -- not foolish hope, but hope founded on hard facts. In many ways, this work is "outside the box." It is about points of light, not any spread of darkness. My guess is that the work will be completed in two years. 

Daniel J. Baum

Posted by Kendra on October 30, 2014

Daniel J. Baum

Daniel J. Baum is the author of nineteen books, most of which deal with important public policy issues. He draws on his experience as a professor of law for more than forty years. Baum is the author of the Understanding Canadian Law series and the Building Your Future series for young people. He lives in Toronto.