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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 19, 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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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