Thursday, March 17, 2011

Collins and Chaltain, We Must Not Be Afraid: Stories of Free Expression in America

We Must Not Be Afraid to Be Free: Stories of Free Expression in America by Ronald K.L. Collins and Sam Chaltain has just been published by Oxford University Press.  (Collins is the Harold S. Shefelman scholar at the University of Washington School of Law and a fellow at the Washington, D.C., office of the First Amendment Center).  I have not seen this yet, but it this books should be great to draw from in a lecture course covering 20th century free speech history.  The table of contents is here.  Here's the book description:
In a stinging dissent to a 1961 Supreme Court decision that allowed the Illinois state bar to deny admission to prospective lawyers if they refused to answer political questions, Justice Hugo Black closed with the memorable line, "We must not be afraid to be free." Black saw the First Amendment as the foundation of American freedom--the guarantor of all other Constitutional rights. Yet since free speech is by nature unruly, people fear it. The impulse to curb or limit it has been a constant danger throughout American history.

In We Must Not Be Afraid to Be Free, Ron Collins and Sam Chaltain, two noted free speech scholars and activists, provide authoritative and vivid portraits of free speech in modern America. The authors offer a series of engaging accounts of landmark First Amendment cases, including bitterly contested cases concerning loyalty oaths, hate speech, flag burning, student anti-war protests, and McCarthy-era prosecutions. The book also describes the colorful people involved in each case--the judges, attorneys, and defendants--and the issues at stake. Tracing the development of free speech rights from a more restrictive era--the early twentieth century--through the Warren Court revolution of the 1960s and beyond, Collins and Chaltain not only cover the history of a cherished ideal, but also explain in accessible language how the law surrounding this ideal has changed over time.

Essential for anyone interested in this most fundamental of our rights, We Must Not Be Afraid to Be Free provides a definitive and lively account of our First Amendment and the price courageous Americans have paid to secure them.
 And the blurbs:
"Collins and Chaltain vividly bring to life inspiring but little-known, real-world stories of remarkable men and women who personally struggled with fear and freedom, thus endowing us with an enduring legacy of enhanced liberty. Superb in both substance and style, this book demonstrates that the defense of free speech epitomizes courage and patriotism."--Nadine Strossen, Professor, New York Law School, and Past President of the ACLU

"If you've ever wanted to know the life history of the First Amendment--the parties, the lawyers, the justices, the agony, the glory--this is the book for you!"--Geoffrey R. Stone, Professor, The University of Chicago Law School

"We Must Not Be Afraid to be Free is a well written and loving tribute to our First Amendment tradition and to the people who have given it life. The book is packed with original history and a deep understanding of the tensions internal to our commitments to freedom of speech. It is a major contribution to the First Amendment literature."--Steven H. Shiffrin, Charles Frank Reavis, Sr., Professor of Law, Cornell University

"A terrific, lively, informed, and engaging read that is certain to interest not only students but the general public. Collins and Chaltain's book is in a class of its own--a must read for anyone who cares about freedom."--David M. O'Brien, Leone Reaves and George W. Spicer Professor, University of Virginia, Department of Politics