From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act: A History of the Fight for Free Speech in America (Paperback)

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The first comprehensive history of free speech in America for a general readership, from a respected historian and free speech activist
A 2007 Book Sense Selection
In this lively history of our most fundamental and perhaps most vulnerable right, Christopher Finan traces the lifeline of free speech from the War on Terror back to the turn of the last century. The story of the fight for free speech in times of war and peace--when writers, publishers, booksellers, and librarians are often on the front lines--is essential reading.
At a time when America's freedoms and liberties are under attack in Washington, Finan's book is a powerful reminder of why we must carry on the fight to preserve the central underpinning of the American democratic system. --Senator Bernie Sanders
A marvelously readable account of the struggle for free speech in the United States. --Geoffrey R. Stone, author of Perilous Times
A welcome and much-needed change from the simplistic good-versus-evil treatment this subject often gets. Could be the definitive study of a perpetually complex, contentious issue. --Booklist, starred review
American history is marred by recurrent episodes of hate--Red scares, super-patriotism, fear of sexual expression. Christopher Finan brilliantly paints that record, and shows how courageous Americans have fought for freedom. --Anthony Lewis, author of Gideon's Trumpet and Make No Law
Finan's colorful narrative . . . shows how much progress we have made--and how far we have to go. --Nadine Strossen, president of the ACLU and professor of law, New York Law School
A book with enormous relevance for post-9/11 America. --Gene Roman, America Magazine.

Praise For…


A welcome and much-needed change from the simplistic good-versus-evil treatment this subject often gets. Could be the definitive study of a perpetually complex, contentious issue.—Booklist, starred review

"At a time when America's freedoms and liberties are under attack in Washington, Finan's book is a powerful reminder of why we must carry on the fight to preserve . . . the right to free and uncensored discourse."—Senator Bernie Sanders

"A marvelously readable account of the struggle for free speech in the United States . . . It is a story every American should know, for it is our nation's greatest achievement."—Geoffrey R. Stone, author of Perilous Times

"Finan's colorful narrative . . . shows how much progress we have made-and how far we have to go."—Nadine Strossen, president of the ACLU and professor of law, New York Law School

"In this masterful work, Chris Finan deftly chronicles the challenges to free speech in the twentieth century; an accessible, thought provoking history that not only informs, but also engages the reader."—Joyce Meskis, Owner, Tattered Cover Book Store, Denver

"American history is marred by recurrent episodes of hate—Red scares, super-patriotism, fear of sexual expression. Christopher Finan brilliantly paints that record, and shows how courageous Americans have fought for freedom."—Anthony Lewis, author of Gideon's Trumpet and Make No Law

"Concisely detailed and researched, From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act reads like high powered fiction. Characters as diverse as Roger Baldwin, Bernie Sanders, Allen Ginsberg, Fatty Arbuckle, Jane Russell, Anthony Comstock, John Ashcroft and Dwight Eisenhower share the stage to tell the tale of a nation at odds with its Puritan heritage. A timely addition to bookshelves as the United States wrestles with issues of privacy and personal freedoms in an age of terrorism tied to an unpopular war."—Kenton Oliver, Intellectual Freedom Committee Chair, the American Library Association

"This is one of the most important—and readable—books written about the price of freedom in a democracy. Do we want to pay for our freedom and security with our free speech? Timely and urgent, this is an essential book for citizens, politicians, and government officials to read and embrace." —Alicia Greene, Olsson's Books & Records, Washington, DC

"From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act is a nicely paced history with a list of fascinating characters…a well-researched and analytical study of the persistent arguments Americans have had regarding the First Amendment."—Deseret Morning News

"Finan’s engaging book is a work of many well-told stories, all true… Christopher Finan does an admirable job in revealing how America’s most fundamental freedom has too often become its most vulnerable one. From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act is a book to be read and discussed by freedom-loving Americans and by teachers, too. For there—in the classroom—is where Finan’s free-speech stories most need to be read ... and remembered."—www.firstamendmentcenter.org

"From the Palmer Raids to the Patriot Act is an engaging read and tells a story that is as relevant to Americans today as it ever has been."—Alternet

"an insightful history of the long struggle for free speech in America."—Publishers Weekly

"Based on original research as well as secondary sources, this timely book will be of interest both to general and academic readers. Highly recommended."—Library Journal

"A book with enormous relevance for post-9/11 America."—Gene Roman, America Magazine

Product Details
ISBN: 9780807044292
ISBN-10: 0807044296
Publisher: Beacon Press (MA)
Publication Date: May 1st, 2008
Pages: 348
Language: English