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Description - Living the Bill of Rights by Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff is one of America's most passionate and prominent writers about civil liberties and civil rights. In "Living the Bill of Rights", he has taken what is too often thought of as an abstract issue and enlivened it by focusing on representative individuals for whom the Constitution is a vital part of life. As the late Supreme Court Justice William Brennan told Hentoff, Americans need to know how "American liberties were won - and what it takes to keep them alive". With characteristic eloquence, Hentoff covers the full range of American life in these inspiring profiles and stories about public and private heroes - Supreme Court Justices William Brennan and William O. Douglas, Dr. Kenneth Clark, and students, teachers, lawyers, and others who challenge assaults on the Bill of Rights.

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Book Details

ISBN: 9780520219816
ISBN-10: 0520219813
Format: Paperback
(229mm x 152mm x 12mm)
Pages: 253
Imprint: University of California Press
Publisher: University of California Press
Publish Date: 1-Dec-1999
Country of Publication: United States

Other Editions - Living the Bill of Rights by Nat Hentoff

Book Reviews - Living the Bill of Rights by Nat Hentoff

US Kirkus Review » A strangely intolerant brief filed in support of individual freedom. Longtime Washington Post and Village Voice columnist Hentoff (Speaking Freely, 1997, etc.) illustrates the Bill of Rights through stories about individuals whose lives exemplify them. Not surprisingly for an author more concerned with protecting citizens from government rather than in collective action through government, these stories revolve around court cases, and Supreme Court justices Douglas and Brennan play prominent roles. Less familiar and more interesting is the extended discussion of Kenneth Clark, whose work was footnoted in Brown v. Board of Education and who subsequently devoted his life to converting the intent of that decision into reality. Eschewing separatist appeals to black power and affirmative action, Clark remained a committed integrationist supporting equality in education as the key to social justice. With this exception, however, the stories of those not sitting on the bench share a basic plot: Individuals acting in an unpopular but completely legal manner come into conflict with an authority, they are pressured by those who believe more strongly in conformity to social norms than individual freedom, but they refuse to compromise their constitutional rights. The result of this formulaic discussion is both to supply some wonderful examples of principled fortitude and to reveal Hentoff's odd intolerance of all potentially legitimate claims competing with the Bill of Rights. This means, for example, that an employee refusing to attend a seminar on sexual harassment is a hero, and campaign finance reform is unacceptable given the Court's classification of campaign contributions as a form of free speech; apparently to be "an Authentic American" you have to believe that individual freedom trumps all other values. Hentoff should be praised for promoting the Bill of Rights, but should be reminded that there is more to the Constitution and to social life. (Kirkus Reviews)

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Author Biography - Nat Hentoff

Nat Hentoff is the author of many articles and books about jazz, politics, and education, including Free Speech for Me--But Not for Thee (1992). His syndicated column, "Sweet Land of Liberty," appears in the Washington Post and more than two hundred other newspapers, and he is a weekly contributor to the Village Voice. He lives in New York City.

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