Fighting Faiths

Richard Polenberg, Author Viking Books $24.95 (0p) ISBN 978-0-670-81373-5
When it reached the Supreme Court in 1919, the case of Jacob Abrams and four other Russian-Jewish immigrant anarchists who were convicted and eventually deported in 1921 became a precedent-setting test of the First Amendment. In an impressively researched and comprehensive summary of this extraordinarily complex case, Polenberg, author of One Nation Divisible, focuses on the Supreme Court's ""clear and present danger'' criterion determining limits of free speech, and the reasoning behind the dissents of Justices Holmes and Brandeis, which continued to influence the extent of freedom of expression until the 1969 adoption of the broader ``likeness to incite'' lawless-action interpretation of the First Amendment. The author recalls the motives that led the individual immigrants to espouse anarchism and what they suffered for their beliefs. He also compares U.S. surveillance, headed by the young J. Edgar Hoover, and prison conditions with the violent confrontations and more brutal treatment to which anarchists were subjected in Russia at the hands of the Cheka (and later PGU) secret police, which disillusioned even such staunch American radicals as Emma Goldman and Alexander Berkman. However, he notes, both governments favored deportation of anarchists. Photos not seen by PW. (December)
Reviewed on: 12/01/1987
Release date: 12/01/1987
Paperback - 431 pages - 978-0-14-011736-3
Paperback - 431 pages - 978-0-8014-8618-0
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