Most timely, and of wide interest to civil libertarians and students of legal history.




It’s one thing to cry “fire” in a crowded theater. It’s another to cry “surrender” in the face of an enemy, as this broadly ranging survey of historical laws attests.

There are many good reasons for suppressing certain speech in wartime, writes Stone (Law/Univ. of Chicago): for instance, “a dissenter may disclose information that is useful to the enemy, such as invasion plans or the vulnerabilities of the navy”; “antiwar dissent may strengthen the enemy’s resolve and make it more difficult for the nation to achieve victory or negotiate a just peace”; or, provocatively, “dissent may persuade people to vote for political candidates who promise to end the war.” Yet laws regulating the expression of such sentiments in wartime—which takes up about 20 percent of our nation’s history, he reckons—tend to be made by Congress in a mood of war fever, with predictable results: “The fear, anger, and fervent patriotism engendered during a war naturally undermine the capacity of individuals and institutions to make clearheaded judgments about risk, fairness, and danger.” Thus, he notes, the so-called Patriot Act, which “smuggled into law several investigative practices that have nothing to do with fighting terrorism, but that law enforcement officials had for years tried unsuccessfully to persuade Congress to authorize.” Alas, Stone shows, Congress is all too easily persuaded to abandon American principles for political expediency: “Most often, Congress has responded to public fears in wartime with draconian and even savage legislation.” Thus the suspension of habeas corpus during the Civil War, the promulgation of the Sedition Act after the Revolution, the rise of the HUAC during the Cold War, and the deployment of various secret-police agencies during the Vietnam era. In this long, literate study, Stone addresses six major episodes that have gnawed away at the First Amendment, closing with an examination of our fear-ridden age and its erosive propensities.

Most timely, and of wide interest to civil libertarians and students of legal history.

Pub Date: Oct. 25, 2004

ISBN: 0-393-05880-8

Page Count: 800

Publisher: Norton

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 2004

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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