Essential reading for journalists, political activists, and ordinary citizens alike.

A deep dive into 10 precedent-setting legal actions that helped define the scope—and limits—of the First Amendment.

“Most of my career has focused on explaining complicated legal concepts to smart people who are not lawyers,” writes media lawyer Rosenberg. His approach is admirably free of legal locutions, though his discussions of some concepts are subtle. Consider two cases that formed the precedent for whether a government can compel expression regarding the Pledge of Allegiance—which, until 1942, was accompanied by a salute uncomfortably like that of the Nazis. Religious in origin, the objections to reciting the pledge came from Christians who believed that to do so would be to worship a graven image. The Supreme Court eventually agreed, though it has remained reticent on the question of whether municipalities and other governments can compel a person to sing the national anthem. Situated within the same general legal domain are such matters as former NFL quarterback Colin Kaepernick’s habit of taking a knee during the anthem to protest police brutality, which excited angry commentary from the Trump administration, some of whose principals have demanded overhauling libel laws to suppress criticism. That’s unlikely to happen given the court’s widespread acceptance of the argument, advanced by Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., that “the best test of truth is the power of the thought to get itself accepted in the competition of the market, and that truth is the only ground upon which their wishes safely can be carried out.” This broad interpretation allowed Madonna to muse about blowing up the White House when Trump took office, just as it protected students prosecuted in the 1960s for their slogan “Fuck the draft.” The toughest nut in the book is the dividing line between hate speech and free speech, a discussion that anyone in media and legal circles will want to study closely.

Essential reading for journalists, political activists, and ordinary citizens alike.

Pub Date: Feb. 9, 2021

ISBN: 978-1-4798-0156-5

Page Count: 320

Publisher: New York Univ.

Review Posted Online: Nov. 17, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2020


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


A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

A thoughtful program for eradicating poverty from the Pulitzer Prize–winning author of Evicted.

“America’s poverty is not for lack of resources,” writes Desmond. “We lack something else.” That something else is compassion, in part, but it’s also the lack of a social system that insists that everyone pull their weight—and that includes the corporations and wealthy individuals who, the IRS estimates, get away without paying upward of $1 trillion per year. Desmond, who grew up in modest circumstances and suffered poverty in young adulthood, points to the deleterious effects of being poor—among countless others, the precarity of health care and housing (with no meaningful controls on rent), lack of transportation, the constant threat of losing one’s job due to illness, and the need to care for dependent children. It does not help, Desmond adds, that so few working people are represented by unions or that Black Americans, even those who have followed the “three rules” (graduate from high school, get a full-time job, wait until marriage to have children), are far likelier to be poor than their White compatriots. Furthermore, so many full-time jobs are being recast as contracted, fire-at-will gigs, “not a break from the norm as much as an extension of it, a continuation of corporations finding new ways to limit their obligations to workers.” By Desmond’s reckoning, besides amending these conditions, it would not take a miracle to eliminate poverty: about $177 billion, which would help end hunger and homelessness and “make immense headway in driving down the many agonizing correlates of poverty, like violence, sickness, and despair.” These are matters requiring systemic reform, which will in turn require Americans to elect officials who will enact that reform. And all of us, the author urges, must become “poverty abolitionists…refusing to live as unwitting enemies of the poor.” Fortune 500 CEOs won’t like Desmond’s message for rewriting the social contract—which is precisely the point.

A clearly delineated guide to finally eradicate poverty in America.

Pub Date: March 21, 2023

ISBN: 9780593239919

Page Count: 288

Publisher: Crown

Review Posted Online: Nov. 30, 2022

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2023

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