Dershowitz turns the spotlight from himself and onto his ideas, which shine with decency and the kind of provocation that...



Through a series of ever-vibrant essays—some original, some reprints—Harvard law professor and legal celebrity Dershowitz (Letters to a Young Lawyer, p. 1260, etc.) advances his sensible theory that experience filtered through democratic processes is the source of our notions of right and rights.

Where do our rights come from? Considering Dershowitz’s contentious, free-spirited personality, it comes as little surprise that natural law has little appeal to him, nor does the positivist strain of pure-human constructs. It is easy to puncture the sanctity of these approaches, and Dershowitz does just so. In their stead, he proposes the idea of “nurtural” rights: slow accretions of experience from previous injustices, rude lessons from the past, our collective run-ins with wrongs. There may be no consensus on what perfect justice is, but we are often able to find common ground on what is wrong: the Holocaust, the Crusades, slavery. Through this process of trial and error, and applying the tools of democratic politics, we have fashioned a body of fundamental rights—of speech, of and from religion, assembly, and such—and individual rights, particularly as they relate to limitations on the power of the majority. And each right is also a dynamic product, “informed by the gradual changes of history and experience,” both from legal and moral perspectives, and “one must constantly defend it, reconsider it, redefine it, and be prepared to change it.” Because, he states, that is what our law is about: devising processes for resolving conflicts in a pluralist democracy while making sure the majority does not tyrannize the minority, especially the minority of one. Dershowitz understands and accepts liberty's burden—the important rights extended to the unpopular, the marginalized, even the dangerous—and makes a convincing case that such a burden is worth the price.

Dershowitz turns the spotlight from himself and onto his ideas, which shine with decency and the kind of provocation that makes one want to think good and hard.

Pub Date: Jan. 9, 2002

ISBN: 0-316-18141-2

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Little, Brown

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2001

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This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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