Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment

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Basic Books, 2010 - History - 221 pages
3 Reviews
More than any other people on earth, Americans are free to say and write what they think. The media can air the secrets of the White House, the boardroom, or the bedroom with little fear of punishment or penalty. The reason for this extraordinary freedom is not a superior culture of tolerance, but just fourteen words in our most fundamental legal document: the free expression clauses of the First Amendment to the Constitution. In Lewis’s telling, the story of how the right of free expression evolved along with our nation makes a compelling case for the adaptability of our constitution. Although Americans have gleefully and sometimes outrageously exercised their right to free speech since before the nation’s founding, the Supreme Court did not begin to recognize this right until 1919. Freedom of speech and the press as we know it today is surprisingly recent. Anthony Lewis tells us how these rights were created, revealing a story of hard choices, heroic (and some less heroic) judges, and fascinating and eccentric defendants who forced the legal system to come face-to-face with one of America’s great founding ideas.

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User Review  - walterqchocobo - LibraryThing

This book is a decent overview of 1st Amendment cases throughout history in the United States. It doesn't go terribly deep into things most of the time but it was interesting to see how things progressed over time. Read full review

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User Review  - quantum_flapdoodle - LibraryThing

A solid history of the issues involving the First Amendment since its inception, and one that is extremely readable. The author writes in a lucid style, without a lot of excess verbiage, and gives the ... Read full review


Odious or Contemptible
As All Life Is an Experiment
Defining Freedom
Freedom and Privacy
A Press Privilege?
Fear Itself
Anothers Lyric
Vagabonds and Outlaws
Thoughts That We Hate
Balancing Interests
Freedom of Thought

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About the author (2010)

Two-time Pulitzer Prize-winner Anthony Lewis was a columnist for the New York Times op-ed page from 1969 through 2001. In addition to his long and distinguished career with the Times, Mr. Lewis has been a lecturer on law at Harvard Law School and a visiting professor at the Universities of California, Illinois, Oregon, and Arizona, and, since 1983, the James Madison Visiting Professor at Columbia University. His previous books are Gideon's Trumpet and Make No Law. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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