Fiery, focused, bold voices address groundbreaking decisions.



A well-curated collection of the most influential cases of the American Civil Liberties Union, published to mark the organization’s 100th anniversary.

Husband-and-wife team Chabon and Waldman (co-editors: Kingdom of Olives and Ash: Writers Confront the Occupation, 2017) present a finely edited almanac of lively, contextually grounded stories that read like the greatest hits of freedom. Written by some of today’s most popular and celebrated authors, these essays serve as history lessons, cautionary tales, and calls to arms. Considered in terms of contemporary cultural values and changes, the contributors explore a variety of issues with an eye on broad efforts of the ACLU to protect the rights of vulnerable populations. For people of color, immigrants, religious minorities, LGBTQ community members, and others whose rights have been threatened or undermined by patterns of discrimination, the collection informs ongoing movements for justice. However, it’s not all praise, as some contributors offer well-reasoned criticisms of ACLU actions. Throughout, the contributors deftly handle the promises and challenges of the courts and their decisions, covering such issues as privacy rights, intellectual freedom, and women’s rights. As each legal case—including Roe v. Wade, Brown v. Board of Education, Gideon v. Wainwright, among many others—is spun through the writers’ perspectives and distinct approaches, the resulting distillation provides insights that are both riveting and refreshingly diverse. This is not solely a book about controversial decisions so much as one that traces the ACLU’s efforts at attending to the importance of the rule of law, the role of the courts, and the significance of legal reform. It’s a timely and cohesive love song for freedom, sung by an impressive roster of contributors, including Neil Gaiman, Jesmyn Ward, George Saunders, Marlon James, Salman Rushdie, Meg Wolitzer, Liyun Li, Elizabeth Strout, Jacqueline Woodson, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Aleksandar Hemon, and Lauren Groff.

Fiery, focused, bold voices address groundbreaking decisions.

Pub Date: Jan. 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-5011-9040-7

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Avid Reader Press

Review Posted Online: Sept. 29, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2019

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

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

Did you like this book?

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.


Custer died for your sins. And so, this book would seem to suggest, did every other native victim of colonialism.

Inducing guilt in non-native readers would seem to be the guiding idea behind Dunbar-Ortiz’s (Emerita, Ethnic Studies/California State Univ., Hayward; Blood on the Border: A Memoir of the Contra War, 2005, etc.) survey, which is hardly a new strategy. Indeed, the author says little that hasn’t been said before, but she packs a trove of ideological assumptions into nearly every page. For one thing, while “Indian” isn’t bad, since “[i]ndigenous individuals and peoples in North America on the whole do not consider ‘Indian’ a slur,” “American” is due to the fact that it’s “blatantly imperialistic.” Just so, indigenous peoples were overwhelmed by a “colonialist settler-state” (the very language broadly applied to Israelis vis-à-vis the Palestinians today) and then “displaced to fragmented reservations and economically decimated”—after, that is, having been forced to live in “concentration camps.” Were he around today, Vine Deloria Jr., the always-indignant champion of bias-puncturing in defense of native history, would disavow such tidily packaged, ready-made, reflexive language. As it is, the readers who are likely to come to this book—undergraduates, mostly, in survey courses—probably won’t question Dunbar-Ortiz’s inaccurate assertion that the military phrase “in country” derives from the military phrase “Indian country” or her insistence that all Spanish people in the New World were “gold-obsessed.” Furthermore, most readers won’t likely know that some Ancestral Pueblo (for whom Dunbar-Ortiz uses the long-abandoned term “Anasazi”) sites show evidence of cannibalism and torture, which in turn points to the inconvenient fact that North America wasn’t entirely an Eden before the arrival of Europe.

A Churchill-ian view of native history—Ward, that is, not Winston—its facts filtered through a dense screen of ideology.

Pub Date: Sept. 16, 2014

ISBN: 978-0-8070-0040-3

Page Count: 296

Publisher: Beacon Press

Review Posted Online: Aug. 18, 2014

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 15, 2014

Did you like this book?