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Protecting the Best Men: An Interpretive History of the Law of Libel
     

Protecting the Best Men: An Interpretive History of the Law of Libel

by Norman L. Rosenberg
 

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From the trial of John Peter Zenger in the eighteenth century to the recent libel cases of William Westmoreland and Ariel Sharon, political defamation cases have attracted considerable attention. As Norman Rosenberg shows, cases like these raise fundamental questions about how much criticism of public leaders a supposedly open, liberal society will permit.

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Overview

From the trial of John Peter Zenger in the eighteenth century to the recent libel cases of William Westmoreland and Ariel Sharon, political defamation cases have attracted considerable attention. As Norman Rosenberg shows, cases like these raise fundamental questions about how much criticism of public leaders a supposedly open, liberal society will permit.

Drawing upon a wide variety of historical sources, Protecting the Best Men argues that there exists no natural, evolutionary history of free speech. It also challenges interpretations that rest upon discovering an "original understanding" about the First Amendment. Instead, this interpretive history of the law of libel highlights the complexity and historically rooted nature of legal concepts and legal consciousness in the United States.

Originally published in 1990.

A UNC Press Enduring Edition -- UNC Press Enduring Editions use the latest in digital technology to make available again books from our distinguished backlist that were previously out of print. These editions are published unaltered from the original, and are presented in affordable paperback formats, bringing readers both historical and cultural value.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Rosenberg has written a fine book that demonstrates that libel law, like other supposedly timeless and apparently fundamental legal doctrines, depends on historical forces and follows no clear line of development.—Law & Society Review
Library Journal
Surveying the history of criminal and civil ``political libel'' lawthat is, the law of injury to the reputation of political figuresfrom colonial America to the present, Rosenberg argues that there exists no natural, evolutionary history of libel (or free speech). Instead, he shows that since the early 19th century, political libel has generally been a constant interplay between scholarly and judicial proponents of a free marketplace of ideas and those who believe precise legal boundaries can be drawn between protected and unprotected speech. Beyond his delineation of legal doctrines and formulas, this volume once again illustrates that law is the legal manifestation of fundamental battles over social and political relationships in American history. Recommended for academic and special collections. Merlin Whiteman, Dann Pecar Newman Talesnick & Kleiman, Indianapolis

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780807842904
Publisher:
The University of North Carolina Press
Publication date:
09/14/1990
Series:
Studies in Legal History Series
Edition description:
1
Pages:
380
Product dimensions:
6.12(w) x 9.25(h) x 1.13(d)

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher
Rosenberg has written a fine book that demonstrates that libel law, like other supposedly timeless and apparently fundamental legal doctrines, depends on historical forces and follows no clear line of development.--Law & Society Review

Meet the Author

Norman L. Rosenberg is coauthor of In Our Times and Generation of Americans.

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