At times this collection of six essays -- one for each decade -- is merely a lionization of the ACLU. But at other moments...

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THE PULSE OF FREEDOM: American Liberties: 1920s-1970s

At times this collection of six essays -- one for each decade -- is merely a lionization of the ACLU. But at other moments one finds a refreshing perspective among the writers. Paul Murphy accurately portrays founder Roger Baldwin's prior commitment to the rights of labor and conscientious objectors at the organization's birth. Jerold Auerbach poses the question more succinctly: does the ACLU value civil liberties per se or as instruments for social change? -- and analyzes the expulsion in 1940 of Elizabeth Guffey Flynn, a director on the national board, for her membership in the Communist Party. All the authors document the historical losses and gains of individual rights which came in connection with labor unions, the federal government's rising participation, the Dies Committee, the wartime imprisonment of Japanese-Americans, the Jehovah's Witnesses' flagcase, HUAC, the Smith Act, Hollywood censorship and blacklisting, obscenity laws, rights of management, integration (here the contributors give considerable attention to the role of other organizations), wiretapping, McCarthyism, loyalty oaths, the Hiss conviction, the Warren Court, feminism, rights of the poor and students, Vietnam protest, conspiracy laws and the new crime consciousness (""noknock""). Reitman's concluding essay puts difficult questions: for example, how do we weigh due process against freedom of the press in pre-trial publicity? A straightforward -- but not particularly revealing -- in-house history.

Pub Date: Jan. 27, 1974

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: -

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1974