Tough Talk: How I Fought for Writers, Comics, Bigots, and the American Way

Martin Garbus, Author, Stanley Cohen, With Crown Publishers $25 (256p) ISBN 978-0-8129-3017-7
Garbus is widely known in publishing as a lawyer who has been at the heart of many significant literary cases of the past three decades. He helped get the Pentagon Papers published, quashed the attempt by Academy Chicago to do John Cheever's uncollected short stories (a move that put him on the outs for a time with many publisher friends) and argued several trailblazing cases that helped fiction writers escape libel threats. He unsuccessfully defended Lenny Bruce against accusations of obscenity (only to see the comedian vindicated after his death), yet spoke out on behalf of Nazis wishing to march through a largely Jewish Chicago suburb. He was also the lawyer on the spot in the crisis involving Salman Rushdie and the Iranian fatwa against Rushdie and Penguin, his publisher. Garbus describes himself as a First Amendment absolutist, and his stands have not always been popular with his associates. One of his latest crusades is the curbing of harmful ""commercial"" speech, e.g., cigarette and liquor advertising aimed at the young. He also describes his beginnings as a poor boy in the Bronx, his early civil rights battles and such triumphant moments as being asked to help draft the constitution for a free Czechoslovakia. His impressive record, which is eloquently, even excitingly, set forth here, offers more revealing personal detail than has appeared in previous books by the author--perhaps at least partly the doing of his skilled coauthor. (Aug.)
Reviewed on: 06/29/1998
Release date: 07/01/1998
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