Category Archives: Book Reviews

Of Speech, Politics, and Circular History

Reviewing Perilous Times: Free Speech in Wartime, From the Sedition Act of 1798 to the War on Terrorism, by Geoffrey R. Stone

Geoffrey Stone’s most recent contribution to our understanding of the First Amendment is at once important, current, and fatalistic. It is important in that it meticulously chronicles the ways in which wartime American governments have trampled free speech rights. For instance, when dealing with the Sedition Act of 1798, Stone deftly introduces the complicated politics and personalities of the time, explaining the developing system of political parties, the expanding feud between John Adams (leading the Federalists) and Thomas Jefferson (leading the Republicans), and the myriad influences on the young United States generated by the French Revolution and the associated war between England and France.

Careful Thinking About Counterterrorism Policy

Reviewing Terrorism, Freedom, and Security: Winning Without War, by Philip B. Heymann

On the afternoon of September 11, 2001, shortly after Air Force One touched down at Offutt Air Force Base, President Bush began a teleconference with senior national security officials by proclaiming, “We’re at war.” The war, the President elaborated, would be “global in nature.” During a meeting of the National Security Council the next day, the principals labored to flesh out the parameters of the conflict. In particular, they discussed a proposal to frame America’s objective not merely as the destruction of al Qaeda but as the “‘elimination of terrorism as a threat to our way of life,’ an aim that would include pursuing other international terrorist organizations in the Middle East.”