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Since the 1735 trial of newspaper publisher John Peter Zenger, the concepts of freedom of speech and press, as well as the right to religious freedom, freedom of assembly, and the right to petition government, have been imprinted in the political, cultural, and historical DNA of the United States, later enshrined in the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Edited by political scientist Vile (Middle Tennessee State Univ.) and law professors David Hudson (Vanderbilt Univ.) and David Schultz (Hamline Univ.), this two-volume work devotes itself solely to the impact of the First Amendment. All three editors are well-published scholars, so they understand the needs of those who use reference materials such as this work. More than 200 contributors from the fields of law, journalism, and theology, along with the academic disciplines of political science, history, and religious studies, have written over 1400 topical entries, ranging in length from 250 to 1500 words, all addresing one of the five core freedoms of the First Amendment. Seven introductory essays by First Amendment scholars provide the context to these freedoms. Complemented by a chronology, a bibliography, and subject and case indexes, the A-to-Z entries cover small biographies (e.g., U.S. Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart, journalist John Siegenthaler) and cases brought before the Supreme Court (e.g., Bates v. Little Rock; Anderson v. Liberty Lobby), as well as subjects of a more general variety, e.g., religious faith (e.g., Jehovah's Witnesses, Islam), issues (e.g., the pledge of allegiance; conscientious objection to military service), and organizations (the First Amendment Center; Free SpeechLeague).
—Kam W. Teo