Words and pictures combine here to eloquently depict the struggle for human rights in America. The first chapter traces the roots in English law and colonial experience of the Bill of Rights, ``the starting point'' and ``single most crucial event'' in the development of Americans' concept of basic, inalienable individual liberties. Then Glasser, director of the American Civil Liberties Union, provides detailed discussion of such broad topics as free speech, religious freedom, fair legal proceedings and racial equality. Photographs by Adelman, whose work has appeared in Time , Life and other newsmagazines, appear at the beginning of each chapter. The text is uniformly good; the section explaining the importance of the 1896 Supreme Court decision Plessy v . Ferguson , which permitted segregated facilities in clear violation of the 14th Amendment, is superior. But the final chapter on extending constitutionally guaranteed rights to all Americans could have included more on recent cases involving gays, the homeless and America's underclass. ( Nov. )
Following on the heels of Ellen Alderman and Caroline Kennedy's In Our Defense ( LJ 1/91) and The Crucible of Liberty , edited by Raymond Arsenault ( LJ 10/1/91),these two titles celebrate the Bill of Rights' 200th anniversary . Enhanced by striking photographs, Visions of Liberty is a well-written introduction to the development of the Bill of Rights and of the legal conflicts arising under it. Glasser--executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union--views American history as a continuing struggle, still incomplete, against a government bent on curtailing basic rights. Thus he consistently assumes that rights claims should be vindicated and dismisses governmental arguments that public order, national security, and morality require that claims be rejected. The result is a strongly libertarian, somewhat one-sided, but nonetheless interesting historical account. Neisser has drawn upon and expanded on his monthly columns in the New Jersey Law Journal to produce Recapturing the Spirit, a collection of 47 short essays that discuss civil rights, freedom of expression, freedom of religion, the right to a home, and other topics from a strongly libertarian perspective. Neisser effectively uses anecdotal material to reveal the day-to-day infringements of basic rights by government. Although he has no scholarly pretensions, his thoughtful discussion of issues should be valuable even to those who disagree with him. However, this collection--like most journalism--is likely to become outdated too quickly. Of the four books, In Our Defense is clearly the best, both for its storytelling and for its balanced account, while The Crucible of Liberty is the weakest, offering little that is new or interesting. Visions of Liberty and Recapturing the Spirit are optional choices where demand and budgets warrant.-- G. Alan Tarr, Rutgers Univ., Camden, N.J.
School Library Journal
YA-- A book that is part history and part primer on the rights and liberties that have evolved out of judicial interpretations of the first ten amendments to the U. S. Constitution. Illustrated with photographs, the volume explores the development of the Bill of Rights since its birth and the evolving court standards on such vital issues as freedom of religion and expression, racial inequality, and fundamental fairness. An informative, highly readable resource.
Product dimensions: 7.00 (w) x 9.88 (h) x 0.76 (d)
Meet the Author
Bob Adelman is a well-known and respected photo-documentarian and book producer. His photographs have been in collections at the Museum of Modern Art and he has won the Guggenheim Fellowship, the National Endowment for the Arts Grant, and many other awards. He lives in Miami, Florida.