- Paperback: 800 pages
- Publisher: W. W. Norton; 1 edition (October 17, 2005)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0393327450
- ISBN-13: 978-0393327458
- Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.4 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
- Average Customer Review: 32 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #563,644 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime: From the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism 1st Edition
Use the Amazon App to scan ISBNs and compare prices.
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) is a service we offer sellers that lets them store their products in Amazon's fulfillment centers, and we directly pack, ship, and provide customer service for these products. Something we hope you'll especially enjoy: FBA items qualify for FREE Shipping and Amazon Prime.
If you're a seller, Fulfillment by Amazon can help you increase your sales. We invite you to learn more about Fulfillment by Amazon .
Frequently bought together
Customers who bought this item also bought
"A must-read for all who treasure the First Amendment."
About the Author
Geoffrey R. Stone is the author of the prize-winning Perilous Times. He is the Edward H. Levi Distinguished Service Professor of Law at the University of Chicago and one of our nation’s leading constitutional scholars.
Read reviews that mention
Showing 1-3 of 32 reviews
There was a problem filtering reviews right now. Please try again later.
When we live through events like the consequences of the Patriot Act, and many different modern events that come from fear and a search for security, political correctness, and a variety of other elements, we assume they are new to the country since they are new to us.
Any of these incredible infringements on our perception of what should be basic freedoms seems aberrant to the ideals and history of American Freedom. In this fascinating book Stone shows us how these very freedoms, which we assume as permanent ideals, have frequently been more aspired to than quite achieved.
So whereas today we have the 24 news cycle generating scandal for a variety of crisis, or non-crisis, we forget that even popular presidential candidates in America were arrested for their opinions. Stone remembers us of the incredible powers, vague mandate, and absurd enforcement of laws which makes the American current reality considerably less worrying.
The book isn’t truly concerned with describing our current reality. It deals from revolutionary times, the civil war, world wars, and ends by Vietnam. The target audience of this book are people with some knowledge of American history, otherwise you may miss much of the context of what is being said. I found this an illuminating and very timely book on how the current failures of liberty are not new, and therefore probably not enduring, as the others weren’t. In a strange way the frequent failure and recovery in the past gives us some hope for the present.
Geoffrey R. Stone has put together a well-written account of American constitutional history from the time of the Alien and Sedition Acts of 1798 to the Patriot Act of 2001. His focus is First Amendment Freedoms. In 1798, ostensibly to guard against the threat of a counterpart "French Revolution" spearheaded by imagined American Jacobins from emerging on American soil, Federalist Party officials marshaled the Alien and Sedition Acts as an effective counterpoise. Its constitutionality was clearly suspect. In reality, it was a shameless partisan attempt to prosecute and suppress critics of the Federalist administration. Virginia and Kentucky responded by protest and state interposition through their Resolutions of 1798, which threatened state nullification of unconstitutional acts.
With much of the major wars throughout American history from the Civil War of the 1860s to the Great War, World War II, Vietnam, and now the Iraq War, shameless attempts emerged to intimidate, stifle and suppress political dissent. Lincoln was the precedent setter for unconstitutionally suspending the writ of habeas corpus, and found a follower to his dubious doctrines in George W. Bush. During the Great War, resident aliens were deprived of the right to due process prior to deportation. The Cold War paranoia was so absurd that the FBI drew up reports citing the classic 1946 Frank Capra movie like It's A Wonderful Life as being evidence of subversive communist propaganda. And thus began the McCarthy era. The 1970s felt the tragedy of the Kent State Massacre in Ohio as National Guard troops shot and killed students protesting the war in Vietnam. In the 1970s, ostensibly the FBI and CIA were reigned in on by Congress for running astray in anti-war activities, but those restrictions came loose following 9/11 when somehow unbridled federal power became more trustworthy.
James Madison judiciously reminds us: "The freemen of America did not wait till usurped power had strengthened itself by exercise, and entangled the question in precedents. They saw all the consequences of the principle, and they avoided the consequences by denying the principle." It was to secure against suppression of freedom of conscience that the First Amendment was framed. It was flatly a negative against Congress to legislate on such matters, hence the interpretative keystone, "Congress shall make no law..."
One can see this type of conflict throughout the history of the United States, as the author of this book shows in great detail in this book. Superbly written and full of helpful references and footnotes, the author narrows his discussion to the effects of war, or rumors of war, or invented threats of war, on free speech. When reading the book one is amazed to learn the low degree to which citizens of the United States have placed on the First Amendment, even as early as 1798. The First Amendment was not really thought of as sacrosanct as it is at the present time (outside of the government). This may explain why early on in U.S. history, the populace was quite willing to stifle speech they thought as treasonous or threatening in time of war (or false threats of war). And the stifling of speech was not unique to a particular political party, newspaper, magazine, or pamphlet. Both the left and the right, and in between, took their turns in the suppression of speech at various times in U.S. history.
Everything in the book is fascinating, and those readers who are not aware of the events discussed may be shocked that they actually took place in a country that so prides itself on freedom, both in speech and association. The author though is not content to merely report facts. He analyzes the different attitudes about free speech, both in the minds of the citizens, the press, and in the courts. Legal issues in constitutional law are all discussed in great analytical detail, and the author does not hesitate to express his own opinions on how the different cases should have been decided. A book like this definitely stands out against the hype and yellow journalism that so frequently is labeled as objective analysis these days. It is a welcome part of the political and legal literature, and all readers willing to take the time to its study will walk away with a massive amount of information and insight, and be better equipped to grapple with the issues of free speech as even now they are being debated (and suppressed). Cooler heads did prevail throughout the U.S. constitutional history of free speech, as this book proves without question. One can only hope this will continue to be the case.