Finding, Framing, and Hanging Jefferson: A Lost Letter, a Remarkable Discovery, and Freedom of Speech in an Age of Terrorism

Finding, Framing, and Hanging Jefferson: A Lost Letter, a Remarkable Discovery, and Freedom of Speech in an Age of Terrorism

by Alan Dershowitz
     
 

View All Available Formats & Editions

"Alan Dershowitz found an important letter from his hero that relates to freedom of speech, incitement, and terrorism—subjects about which Alan has thought and taught for decades. This book is a wonderful adventure story that uses Jefferson's arguments and Dershowitz's counters to illuminate issues that were important and difficult when the U.S. was a new

Overview

"Alan Dershowitz found an important letter from his hero that relates to freedom of speech, incitement, and terrorism—subjects about which Alan has thought and taught for decades. This book is a wonderful adventure story that uses Jefferson's arguments and Dershowitz's counters to illuminate issues that were important and difficult when the U.S. was a new nation and that remain so today. I recommend it to every citizen concerned with preserving our liberties and combating terrorism."
—President William Jefferson Clinton

"The 1801 letter of Thomas Jefferson to Elijah Boardman is of tremendous interest and importance, as is the remarkable story of its discovery by Alan Dershowitz."
—David McCullough

Pulitzer Prize–winning author

"Finding Jefferson is terrific on every level: as a memoir of a passionate collector, it is delightful; as an account of an important historical discovery, it is riveting; as a defense of free speech, it is brilliant."
—Doris Kearns Goodwin, author of

Team of Rivals: The Political Genius of Abraham Lincoln

"What a treasure this book is, just like the stuff Dershowitz scours the old archives for. It is unexpected, revealing and resonant with a central fact of our Republic—we are still stitched together by words, and their complicated progeny, ideas. From a simple, fortuitous discovery, Dershowitz has fashioned an elaborate and engaging argument, one we will be thinking about for ages."
—Ken Burns, director and producer of The War and Thomas Jefferson

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
* 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)
Karen J. Greenberg
Finding Jefferson is a thoughtful reflection on the "threat posed by Imams who preach violence" and whether we should make it illegal for such people "to continue to preach their hatred."
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly

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.)

Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information
Library Journal

A remarkable discovery leading to a remarkable book. As indicated by the subtitle, Dershowitz (Harvard Law Sch.; The Case for Israel) serendipitously located and then purchased a lengthy statement by Thomas Jefferson touching upon freedom of speech. The statement is not only notable for its contribution to our understanding of this eminent American's thoughts on the subject, as well as those of the Founding Fathers in drawing the original constitutional limitations on expressive speech and actions, but is of vital importance in illuminating current debate on the subject of terrorism and the right to express unpopular opinions and politics. Entrusted to a scholar of note and a prolific writer not fearful of engaging in cutting-edge arguments, the letter leads to a fascinating exchange of views that will provide signal assistance to anyone vitally interested in politics, civil liberties, and constitutional rights. In addition, the author engages in a lively recitation of his lifelong passion for collecting rarities and treasures, which many share. Given its clear explanation of the debate surrounding the right to speak out, as well as its genuinely amusing elements, this book should be made available to a wide-ranging readership in all general libraries.
—Gilles Renaud

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780470167113
Publisher:
Turner Publishing Company
Publication date:
11/09/2007
Edition description:
First Edition
Pages:
256
Product dimensions:
5.91(w) x 8.52(h) x 0.92(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"What a treasure this book is, just like the stuff Dershowitz scours the old archives for. It is unexpected, revealing and resonant with a central fact of our Republic -- we are still stitched together by words, and their complicated progeny, idea. From a simple, fortuitous discovery, Dershowitz has fashioned an elaborate and engaging argument, one we will be thinking about for ages."
--Ken Burns, director and producer of Thomas Jefferson

"Alan Dershowitz lives and breathes history. With the gleeful purchase of a relatively obscure letter from Jefferson, he time-travels back 200 years to write a reply to his hero that brings the debate over free speech from the imperfect past to the deeply troubled present. The book is both a warm personal insight into Dershowitz, the grown-up whiz kid still fuming because his mother threw out his comic books and baseball cards, and a great lesson on democracy from one of its wisest and most articulate advocates."
--Harold Ramis, film director, screenwriter, and actor

"The 1801 letter of Thomas Jefferson to Elijah Boardman is of tremendous interest and importance as is the remarkable story of its discovery by Alan Dershowitz."
--David McCullough, Pulitzer prize-winning author

"Finding Jefferson is terrific on every level - as a memoir of a passionate collector it is delightful; as an account of an important historical discovery it is riveting; as a defense of free speech it is brilliant."
--Doris Kearns Goodwin

"Alan Dershowitz found an important letter from his hero that relates to freedom of speech, incitement, and terrorism -- subjects about which Alan has thought and taught for decades. This book is a wonderful adventure story that uses Jefferson's arguments and Dershowitz's counters to illuminate issues that were important and difficult when the U.S. was a new nation and that remain so today. I recommend it to every citizen concerned with preserving our liberties and combating terrorism."
--President William Jefferson Clinton

Meet the Author

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.

Customer Reviews

Average Review:

Write a Review

and post it to your social network

     

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

See all customer reviews >