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.