THE DEVIL ON TRIAL by Phillip Margulies

THE DEVIL ON TRIAL

Witches, Anarchists, Atheists, Communists, and Terrorists in America’s Courtrooms
Age Range: 11 & up

KIRKUS REVIEW

The overworked premise of this well-researched history of important American court cases is that “the devil”—absolute evil as judged by contemporary society—periodically goes on trial and that “When the defendant is the devil, only one verdict is acceptable.” Long chapters provide detailed descriptions of five important trials: Salem witchcraft, the Haymarket bomb trial of 1886 (anarchists and the labor movement), the Scopes “monkey” trial (evolution vs. creationism), the Alger Hiss trial (the Communist threat) and the Zacarias Moussaoui trial (possible 9/11 conspirator). Quotes from primary source material, accompanied by period illustrations and photographs, add depth and authority. Authorial opinions occasionally intrude, drawing overly glib conclusions for readers. Unfortunately and rather oddly, the “devil” gimmick surfaces in every chapter and greatly diminishes the quality of the presentation, trivializing the subject matter. The outcome of the Moussaoui trial in particular seems to contradict the stated premise of “only one acceptable verdict.” Purchase if descriptions of important trials are needed to round out a collection. (glossary, chapter notes, bibliography, photo credits, index) (Nonfiction. 11 & up)

Pub Date: Sept. 8th, 2008
ISBN: 978-0-618-71717-0
Page count: 224pp
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15th, 2008




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