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In Search of Jefferson's Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace

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In Search of Jefferson's Moose: Notes on the State of Cyberspace [Hardcover]

David G. Post
4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews Review

In 1787, Thomas Jefferson, then the American Minister to France, had the skeleton of an American moose shipped to him in Paris and mounted it in the lobby of his residence as a symbol of the vast possibilities of the largely unexplored New World. Taking a cue from Jefferson's efforts, David Post, one of the nation's leading internet scholars, presents a pithy, colorful exploration of the still mostly undiscovered territory of cyberspace--what it is, how it works, and how it should be governed.

Dear Amazon Reader:

Why might you want to read a Jeffersonian natural history of the internet? Perhaps because you know that Thomas Jefferson was a very interesting, and a very smart, guy but you'd like to know more about what he was up to. (Why did he have a moose skeleton and carcass--an acquisition, he wrote, "more precious than you can imagine"--shipped to him in Paris for display in his residence?) Or perhaps because you believe that the internet represents something important, some kind of transformative milestone in the history of human communication, but you don't really know much about where it came from, or how it actually works, or who's in charge.

At bottom, this book is a "natural history" of the internet: what it is, how it works, what shape it has, what kinds of things can be found there, how and why it has grown so prodigiously in size. Thomas Jefferson is the guide; the book is (or aspires to be) the natural history of the internet that Jefferson would write, were he around to write it. One thing I can promise you, if you read my book: you'll learn some things about Jefferson, and some things about the internet, that you never knew before, and you'll see some connections between the two that you never saw before. And I can also promise you that you'll encounter some magnificent prose--not mine, Jefferson's. I use Jefferson's own words as much as possible to describe what's going on out there in the "new world," and nobody could craft an English sentence better than Jefferson could.

To be honest, I don't know whether the book will change your mind about, or give you any simple solutions for, any of the great issues of the day. I was struck, though, several months ago, at the start of the meltdown in the global financial markets, by something Thomas Friedman wrote in his NY Times column: What we have to understand about the global financial markets, Friedman wrote, and what makes them so hard to understand and so hard to control, is this: everything is inter-connected, and nobody's in charge. Hmm, I thought--sounds like the internet. There are lessons to be learned from a deeper understanding of the net; I won't pretend to know what all of them are, but I know they're there, and my book is a way to help you think about what they might be and what they might mean.


David G. Post


"Minow's book presents enlightening discussions for educators, policy makers, and informed citizens. Essential for academic and public libraries." -- Library Journal

"The Brown decision wisely and bravely struck down state-imposed racial segregation. Martha Minow capably describes how that decision changed the lives of millions of people." --Diane Ravitch, The New Republic

"Everyone knows how important the Brown v Board of Education decision was. But until Martha Minow turned her exceptional mind and imagination to the subject, no one fully appreciated the decisions' reach across our society and across national boundaries. In Brown's Wake is eloquent and careful, scholarly and accessible, passionate and thoughtful. Thanks to Minow, we will now have a far greater appreciation of what may be the most significant and constructive decision in the Supreme Court's history."--E.J. Dionne, author of Why Americans Hate Politics

"Brown was a landmark case and Martha Minow has written a landmark book about it. No effort to bring the issues raised by that decision up to date can top this one."--Alan Wolfe, Professor of Political Science, Boston College

"In today's education discussions, Brown v. Board of Education is invoked as a vague metaphor for the need to address the racial achievement gap, disconnected from the case's original declaration that separate schools are inherently unequal. Martha Minow's sweeping and provocative narrative brilliantly depicts the many adaptations of Brown, while at the same time anchoring the decision to its fundamental insight about the importance of integrated education in a pluralistic democracy."--Richard D. Kahlenberg, senior fellow, The Century Foundation, and author of All Together Now

"In Brown's Wake is a panoramic view of how this landmark decision has shaped education policy and practice both in the United States and abroad. With an objective eye, Martha Minow leads us through various reform measures designed to promote equal opportunity, skillfully displaying points of contention between integration and segregation, equality and pluralism, sameness and difference. Mining an impressively broad body of social science research, she acknowledges its limitations and the need to find pragmatic and effective solutions to continuing inequalities."--Rosemary Salomone, Professor of Law, St. John's University

"Overall, the book is an outstanding cultural exploration of perhaps the most famous Supreme Court decision ever. Excellent for collections on law and civil rights...Highly recommended..." -- Choice

2011 Scribes Book Award Honorable Mention

"A well-written and informed brief in legal fashion." -- Du Bois Review

About the Author

Martha Minow is Dean and Jeremiah Smith, Jr., Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, where she has taught since 1981. She is an expert in human rights and advocacy for members of racial and religious minorities, women, children, and persons with disabilities. Her prior books include Government by Contract; Just Schools; Breaking the Cycles of Hatred; Partners, Not Rivals; Between Vengeance and Forgiveness; Not Only for Myself; and Making All the Difference.
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