The #1 New York Times bestselling author, Harvard Law School professor, and tireless defender of civil liberties unearths a little-known letter by his hero, Thomas Jefferson, and shares its secrets. The letter illuminates Jefferson's views on freedom of speech in a way that has important implications for the country today, particularly in the struggle against terrorism. This book is about the remarkable letter Dershowitz found, how he found it, and why it matters not only to him, but to us today.
Harold Ramis, film director, screenwriter, and actor
ALAN DERSHOWITZ, the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School, is one of the country's foremost appellate lawyers and a distinguished defender of individual liberties. His many books include the #1 New York Times bestseller Chutzpah, Preemption: A Knife That Cuts Both Ways, and the Wiley books The Case for Israel, also a New York Times bestseller; The Case for Peace: How the Arab-Israeli Conflict Can Be Resolved; What Israel Means to Me; and Blasphemy. He lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts.
* Contemplating whether the government could censor imams whose preaching might incite terrorism, Harvard law professor Dershowitz (Blasphemy) wondered what Thomas Jefferson would say about ""where to draw the appropriate line, between dangerous speech and harmful conduct."" Dershowitz found an answer in New York's Argosy Bookstore, where he stumbled over a letter written by Jefferson on July 3, 1801, addressing the limits of free speech, especially religious and political speech. Based in part on his reading of Jefferson, Dershowitz concludes that we ought not to censor the speech of even the most violent religious leaders. Echoing Jefferson, he says that liberty is dangerous and adds that in any case censorship would not prevent either violence or incitement to it. This book is not without its annoyances: it opens with a self-indulgent tour through the many objects Dershowitz likes to collect, from baseball paraphernalia to the odd picture of Abraham Lincoln, and the bulk of Dershowitz's ruminations are cast in a long letter to Jefferson--a distracting device. These meditations from one of our most provocative constitutional scholars may not evoke as much controversy as have his earlier suggestions that there be warrants for interrogators to use torture in limited circumstances, but the main contribution here is the publication of Jefferson's letter. Photos. (Nov.) (Publishers Weekly, September 3, 2007)