Zerman's newest book on the Constitution (his previous was Beyond a Reasonable Doubt is one of the clearest examinations of a Constitutional issue for any age group in recent memory. The authohr gives a brief history and then looks at the current state of the First Amendment guarantee of a free press. Tough questions on the role of the media and the limits of responsibility are pulled from examples of important and famous legal battles, including the Pentagon Papers, Reagan's press ban in Grenada, and General Westmoreland's libel suite against CBS. By describing the roots of each conflict and by taking the reader through the trials, judicial decisions, reactions and consequences, Zerman makes abstract concepts concrete and understandable. Though he is not afraid to state his own stand on the issues, all points of view, even the most extreme, get their say. Because the book doesn't oversimplify, the youngest recommended readers may find the material too demanding. But for those who persevere, the reward is a deeper understanding of the role of a free press in a complex society. (12-up)
School Library Journal
Gr 9 Up A thought-provoking book that explores the constitutional issue of freedom of the press. Zerman presents some of the landmark legal battles on this issue from the Peter Zenger trial in 1734 to the news blackout on the invasion of Grenada in 1983events testing freedom of the press, censorship, confidentiality of sources of informationall considerations of wide-ranging importance to an informed public and ethical journalism. The book is well-organized and addresses such issues as privacy, conflicts with law enforcement agencies and the federal government, and searches for evidence. Photographs of the people involved in these legal dramas lend immediacy and interest to the text, as do the cartoons. Zerman's careful tracings of the legal histories of the Carol Burnett, William Westmoreland, and Daniel Ellsberg cases are compelling reading. The index is unusually detailed. Pertinent court decisions are listed, and the legal citations are explained. Zerman's analysis of our legal system as it effects freedom of the press and public information is fascinating reading that is of great importance. Phyllis Ingram, Fairfax County Public Library, Va.