Next book

FREE SPEECH

A HISTORY FROM SOCRATES TO SOCIAL MEDIA

A well-structured and compelling examination of the costs and benefits of free speech.

A comprehensive history of free speech from ancient to modern times.

In this well-researched and highly readable book, Copenhagen-based writer Mchangama, host of the podcast series Clear and Present Danger: A History of Free Speech, traces the history of free speech around the world, examining the views of both its advocates and its suppressors. The author effectively demonstrates how much we have gained by the spread of free speech as well as what we stand to lose if we allow its continued erosion. Mchangama begins with ancient civilizations—“Judging from surviving law codes and writings, the great ancient civilizations protected the power and authority of their rulers from the speech of their subjects, not the other way around”—and ends with a discussion of the current content moderation and transparency problems of social media platforms, which allow the spread of disinformation and hate speech. Throughout history, Mchangama shows, numerous groups and individuals have diligently worked on the advancement of free speech, including Socrates, Johannes Gutenberg, John Milton, Franklin Roosevelt, and Nelson Mandela. While fighting for their cause, champions of free speech have faced leaders who have tried to rein in speech when they felt threatened. These efforts at suppression have included the banning of books, distribution of propaganda, attacks on the media, and even the imprisonment or murder of journalists. Today, as we continue to fight to contain the Covid-19 pandemic, censorship, lies, and conspiracy theories abound, and the legitimacy of the current presidency is being erroneously questioned. However, notes Mchangama, “while online expression may sometimes lead to real-life harm, it does not necessarily follow that placing restrictions on free speech is an effective remedy.” At the same time, as the author points out with respect to attempts to overthrow democracy, free speech should be accompanied by “a zero-tolerance policy toward organized threats, intimidations, and violence by groups seeking to establish parallel systems of authority.”

A well-structured and compelling examination of the costs and benefits of free speech.

Pub Date: Feb. 8, 2022

ISBN: 978-1-5416-0049-2

Page Count: 528

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: Dec. 11, 2021

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2022

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Next book

UNCOMFORTABLE CONVERSATIONS WITH A JEW

An important dialogue at a fraught time, emphasizing mutual candor, curiosity, and respect.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 11


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

Two bestselling authors engage in an enlightening back-and-forth about Jewishness and antisemitism.

Acho, author of Uncomfortable Conversations With a Black Man, and Tishby, author of Israel: A Simple Guide to the Most Misunderstood Country on Earth, discuss many of the searing issues for Jews today, delving into whether Jewishness is a religion, culture, ethnicity, or community—or all of the above. As Tishby points out, unlike in Christianity, one can be comfortably atheist and still be considered a Jew. She defines Judaism as a “big tent” religion with four main elements: religion, peoplehood, nationhood, and the idea of tikkun olam (“repairing the world through our actions”). She addresses candidly the hurtful stereotypes about Jews (that they are rich and powerful) that Acho grew up with in Dallas and how Jews internalize these antisemitic judgments. Moreover, Tishby notes, “it is literally impossible to be Jewish and not have any connection with Israel, and I’m not talking about borders or a dot on the map. Judaism…is an indigenous religion.” Acho wonders if one can legitimately criticize “Jewish people and their ideologies” without being antisemitic, and Tishby offers ways to check whether one’s criticism of Jews or Zionism is antisemitic or factually straightforward. The authors also touch on the deteriorating relationship between Black and Jewish Americans, despite their historically close alliance during the civil rights era. “As long as Jewish people get to benefit from appearing white while Black people have to suffer for being Black, there will always be resentment,” notes Acho. “Because the same thing that grants you all access—your skin color—is what grants us pain and punishment in perpetuity.” Finally, the authors underscore the importance of being mutual allies, and they conclude with helpful indexes on vernacular terms and customs.

An important dialogue at a fraught time, emphasizing mutual candor, curiosity, and respect.

Pub Date: April 30, 2024

ISBN: 9781668057858

Page Count: 256

Publisher: Simon Element

Review Posted Online: March 13, 2024

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15, 2024

Next book

BEYOND THE GENDER BINARY

From the Pocket Change Collective series

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change.

Artist and activist Vaid-Menon demonstrates how the normativity of the gender binary represses creativity and inflicts physical and emotional violence.

The author, whose parents emigrated from India, writes about how enforcement of the gender binary begins before birth and affects people in all stages of life, with people of color being especially vulnerable due to Western conceptions of gender as binary. Gender assignments create a narrative for how a person should behave, what they are allowed to like or wear, and how they express themself. Punishment of nonconformity leads to an inseparable link between gender and shame. Vaid-Menon challenges familiar arguments against gender nonconformity, breaking them down into four categories—dismissal, inconvenience, biology, and the slippery slope (fear of the consequences of acceptance). Headers in bold font create an accessible navigation experience from one analysis to the next. The prose maintains a conversational tone that feels as intimate and vulnerable as talking with a best friend. At the same time, the author's turns of phrase in moments of deep insight ring with precision and poetry. In one reflection, they write, “the most lethal part of the human body is not the fist; it is the eye. What people see and how people see it has everything to do with power.” While this short essay speaks honestly of pain and injustice, it concludes with encouragement and an invitation into a future that celebrates transformation.

A fierce, penetrating, and empowering call for change. (writing prompt) (Nonfiction. 14-adult)

Pub Date: June 2, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-593-09465-5

Page Count: 64

Publisher: Penguin Workshop

Review Posted Online: March 14, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2020

Close Quickview