A well-informed, strongly argued perspective on a hot topic, but readership may be limited by the technical tone.




Legalistic, widely ranging jeremiad against the suppression of “hate speech.”

Strossen (New York Law School; Defending Pornography: Free Speech, Sex, and the Fight for Women's Rights, 1995), the president of the American Civil Liberties Union from 1991 to 2008, is well-versed in the tangled history of efforts to protect or constrain hate speech, including the infamous 1978 Skokie, Illinois, case in which the ACLU defended the right of neo-Nazis to march. She believes that more harm is done by trying to muzzle repugnant discourse, since “anyone can be both accused of and subjected to ‘hatred’ based on a wide range of personal characteristics and beliefs.” Furthermore, most people fail to understand that the laws established to protect questionable speech are complex and ever evolving. The author argues that speech is not absolutely protected, subject to the legal principles of the harmful tendency and emergency tests (essentially, whether it “directly causes specific imminent serious harm”), and that many assume “that speech with a hateful message is automatically excluded from First Amendment protection.” In brisk chapters, she first explains when hate speech is protected and when it is punishable, then goes on to argue her position, noting how the legal remedies attempted to date are inherently vague or broad and may cause greater harm than the offending speech itself. She notes that the Supreme Court has not included hate speech in the narrow category of speech unprotected by the First Amendment, including “defamation, commercial advertisement, obscenity, and fighting words.” Campus speech codes, for instance, are often struck down upon judicial review. Regarding such laws’ inherent vagueness, writes Strossen, “over and over, different decision-makers in the same country disagree” over what constitutes actionable hate speech. Chillingly, she examines many cases internationally where such policies were used against marginalized groups or activists. The author concludes, “I am more appreciative than ever of U.S. law’s nuanced position in drawing the line between punishable and protected ‘hate speech.’ ”

A well-informed, strongly argued perspective on a hot topic, but readership may be limited by the technical tone.

Pub Date: May 1, 2018

ISBN: 978-0-19-085912-1

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: March 20, 2018

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet



Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

Did you like this book?

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.


A light-speed tour of (mostly) Western poetry, from the 4,000-year-old Gilgamesh to the work of Australian poet Les Murray, who died in 2019.

In the latest entry in the publisher’s Little Histories series, Carey, an emeritus professor at Oxford whose books include What Good Are the Arts? and The Unexpected Professor: An Oxford Life in Books, offers a quick definition of poetry—“relates to language as music relates to noise. It is language made special”—before diving in to poetry’s vast history. In most chapters, the author deals with only a few writers, but as the narrative progresses, he finds himself forced to deal with far more than a handful. In his chapter on 20th-century political poets, for example, he talks about 14 writers in seven pages. Carey displays a determination to inform us about who the best poets were—and what their best poems were. The word “greatest” appears continually; Chaucer was “the greatest medieval English poet,” and Langston Hughes was “the greatest male poet” of the Harlem Renaissance. For readers who need a refresher—or suggestions for the nightstand—Carey provides the best-known names and the most celebrated poems, including Paradise Lost (about which the author has written extensively), “Kubla Khan,” “Ozymandias,” “The Charge of the Light Brigade,” Wordsworth and Coleridge’s Lyrical Ballads, which “changed the course of English poetry.” Carey explains some poetic technique (Hopkins’ “sprung rhythm”) and pauses occasionally to provide autobiographical tidbits—e.g., John Masefield, who wrote the famous “Sea Fever,” “hated the sea.” We learn, as well, about the sexuality of some poets (Auden was bisexual), and, especially later on, Carey discusses the demons that drove some of them, Robert Lowell and Sylvia Plath among them. Refreshingly, he includes many women in the volume—all the way back to Sappho—and has especially kind words for Marianne Moore and Elizabeth Bishop, who share a chapter.

Necessarily swift and adumbrative as well as inclusive, focused, and graceful.

Pub Date: April 21, 2020

ISBN: 978-0-300-23222-6

Page Count: 304

Publisher: Yale Univ.

Review Posted Online: Feb. 9, 2020

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 2020

Did you like this book?