Cover: The Taming of Free Speech: America’s Civil Liberties Compromise, from Harvard University PressCover: The Taming of Free Speech in HARDCOVER

The Taming of Free Speech

America’s Civil Liberties Compromise

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$45.00 • £32.95 • €40.50

ISBN 9780674545717

Publication: October 2016


480 pages

6-1/8 x 9-1/4 inches


Utterly brilliant… Balanced and restrained in her writing but original and subversive in her argument, Weinrib stops short of offering morals from this history… Most important, Weinrib reanimates a strange time when the forces of business and the forces of labor were engaged in a pitched battle about the way Americans should construct their economy. When you go looking for the origins of civil libertarianism, it turns out, you find a class struggle… Weinrib’s book is an extraordinary reminder of why history matters to the present.—Samuel Moyn, The Wall Street Journal

[An] important revisionist history of the origins of American civil liberties… Offer[s] important correctives to the celebratory accounts of civil liberties that we so often tell ourselves.—David Cole, The New York Review of Books

The Taming of Free Speech is…a complex story about the evolution of political and legal tactics within competing organizations and among the notable cast of characters at their helm… [A] provocative book.—Sophia Rosenfeld, Dissent

Extremely original and well-written… [A] wide-ranging history.—David M. Rabban, Reviews in American History

A fascinating read, as constitutional history and as storytelling… The book highlights the underappreciated foundational role of the interwar ACLU.—D. E. Smith, Choice

This is a big, bold project, a painting on a large canvas, depicting many different scenes in the manner of a Brueghel painting or WPA mural. It is a major work of history which will, I am quite sure, remain for many years the authoritative account of the ACLU’s pivotal role in producing our modern law of free expression.—Robert W. Gordon, Stanford Law School

Weinrib’s important reconstruction of the history of our notions of free expression shows how an idea first offered on behalf of labor radicals became transformed into a general account of why all dissent from the conventional should be protected. The Taming of Free Speech is a major contribution to the history of civil liberties.—Mark Tushnet, Harvard Law School