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Free Speech in its Forgotten Years, 1870-1920 (Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society) Paperback – November 13, 1999

ISBN-13: 978-0521655378 ISBN-10: 0521655374

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Product Details

  • Series: Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society
  • Paperback: 422 pages
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press (November 13, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0521655374
  • ISBN-13: 978-0521655378
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #353,018 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Library Journal

Challenging the view that free speech controversies and court cases effectively began during World War I, Rabban (law, Univ. of Texas, Austin) focuses on free speech issues between the Civil War and World War I. Through an impressive marshaling of controversies, cases, and litigants, he persuasively argues that libertarian radicalism and the Free Speech League, more than traditional American liberalism and the American Civil Liberties Union, deserve much of the credit for pushing valuable First Amendment issues to the forefront of American social, political, and legal circles. Of particular note is Rabban's treatment of the tension between libertarian radicalism and American liberalism, especially in the context of the debate over the meaning and application of the free speech provision of the First Amendment. This enlightening work fills a void in First Amendment civil liberties studies. Deserving careful scrutiny by scholars and others alike, it is highly recommended for all libraries.?Stephen Kent Shaw, Northwest Nazarene Coll., Nampa, Id.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

"Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years fundamentally revises our understanding of the history of free speech in America between the 1870s and World War I. Rabban skillfully recovers libertarian and antilibertarian attitudes toward speech that a long tradition of twentieth-century commentary has ignored." G. Edward White, University Professor and John B. Minor Professor of Law and History, University of Virginia

"Future scholarship on the First Amendment will henceforth begin with this exceptional book. Rabban wholly reorients free speech history with newly mined facts and sharp insights about two lost generations of scholars, activists, and their fierce struggles." Norman Dorsen, Stokes Professor of Law, New York University, and President, ACLU, 1976-1991

"David Rabban has done more than ensure that First Amendment scholars will never again forget the historical significance of the period 1870 to 1920. His extraordinarily rich and detailed account should become a central document in contemporary debates over the meaning and application of the speech provision of the Constitution." Gary Jeffrey Jacobsohn, Fred Greene Third Century Professor of Jurisprudence and Politics, Williams College

"An important, truly eye-opening account of the heretofore neglected national encounters with free speech issues during the decades preceding World War I. Rabban's greatest achievement is his skill in interweaving absorbing social and intellectual history with a thorough and careful analysis of the legal arguments ignored by the Supreme Court until 1919." Gerald Gunther, William Nelson Cromwell Professor of Law, Emeritus, Stanford Law School

"David Rabban's Free Speech in Its Forgotten Years constitutes an important occasion in the history of the First Amendment. This is an enormously important book for lawyers, historians--and for the general public." Stanley N. Katz, Princeton University

"David Rabban's formidable research has uncovered a fascinating story which everyone devoted to civil liberties will want to read. He challenges much that we thought we knew about the origins of the American Civil Liberties Union, and offers new perspectives on the history of American reformers." Linda K. Kerber, May Brodbeck in the Liberal Arts and Professor of History, University of Iowa

"Rabban's solid history deepens our understanding of civil liberties in America..." Washington Post

Rabban has produced nothing less than a masterpiece....Highly recommended for all readers, general and academic, at all levels." M. W. Bowers, University of Nevada, Las Vegas

"Rabban interestingly and compellingly makes his case that there was, during the 'forgotten years' from about 1870 to about 1920, a substantial body of free speech law rarely mentioning the First Amendment and almost invariably repressive." The Federal Lawyer

"Highly readable for a book on a heavy topic." American-Statesman

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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Allegra Young on February 12, 2000
Format: Paperback
Today's America is awash in information, a by-product of the burgeoning economy and the freedom of speech we have enjoyed during our lifetime.
However, there was a time we were not always so careful with the First Amendment -- approximately our first 125 years as a country. This book recalls the tale of this America, when "order" prevailed above individual liberty. The list voices of the past -- workers struggling for decent working conditions, women dying from lack of access to birth control information -- were silenced by those in power who knew the First Amendment lacked teeth. Rabban's critically acclaimed book focuses on the transformation of this society from Civil War to World War 1. He deftly illustrates that in America's tumultuous relationship with the First Amendment, the outcome of this struggle was neither inevitable nor easy. As Rabban writes 'no group of Americans was more hostile to free speech claims before WWI than the judiciary, and no judges were more hostile than the justices on the United States Supreme Court.'
Free Speech is enjoyable from a lay perspective and rich and challenging for those immersed in the nation's laws. It's a slice of history we rarely consider, but today, as we search for ways to manage the flow of information coming into our homes through the Internet, we would be unwise to take for granted.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on May 4, 1999
Format: Hardcover
What I admired about this book was the long second chapter, in which the author discusses the issue of free speech in connection with the Industrial Workers of the World, IWW, also known as the "Wobblies".
Rabban leads us to wondering, does the first amendment protect the sort of thing the wobblies had in mind when they spoke of "direct action"?
Separately, one also asks one's self, were the wobblies themselves genuinely opposed to censorship, or just opposed to efforts to censor the wobblies? This is a question worth asking about many real or alleged victims of suppression, because those who come into the inheritance of the martyrs of the past often turn into the censors of the future.
In Rabban's words, "IWW commentary on the legal treatment of free speech frequently invoked basic Marxist class analysis and exhibited contempt for American law and legal institutions," so much so that for the wobblies, "contempt for the capitalist legal system...extended to rejection of the underlying worth of constitutional rights under any circumstances."
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By natsal on March 15, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
For those interested in this topic or not, the book is easy to understand and gives a great overview of the right of free speech. Rabban covers eras of free speech cases not covered in most free speech literature. Very interesting
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Free Speech in its Forgotten Years, 1870-1920 (Cambridge Historical Studies in American Law and Society)
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