Renowned attorney and bestselling author Alan M. Dershowitz reveals how notable trials throughout American history have helped to shape our nation.
Harvard professor and prolific author Dershowitz takes readers on a tour through some of the most celebrated-and intriguing-cases in the U.S. during the past 300 years. He begins with the most famous case in American colonial history-the Salem witch trial, which resulted in the deaths of 19 people-and continues through the current day, with the not yet decided case of the 9/11 detainees at Guantanamo Bay. Many of the 60 or so cases are famous (the Dred Scott decision, the Rosenberg trial), but others have been forgotten. Not surprisingly, the number of cases increase as he approaches recent history, and while there are some scandalous cases from the past, the majority of headline-grabbers, such as the O.J. Simpson trial and the Jean Harris-Scarsdale Diet doctor murder, are contemporary cases. Although the book has a cursory feel at times (each case runs only about six pages), Dershowitz displays a keen sense of history to go along with his knowledge of the law: he features cases that highlight changes in American history, and he misses little. He follows a simple format: listing the basic facts of the case, then offering his critique. Regarding the current Supreme Court, for example, he says he is "angry" that in the Bush-Gore decision, the court "took it upon itself to elect anyone at all." Those curious about the history of law will find this primer a good place to start.
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Grand Central Publishing
May 18, 2005
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