cover image SHOUTING FIRE: Civil Liberties in a Turbulent Age

SHOUTING FIRE: Civil Liberties in a Turbulent Age

Alan M. Dershowitz, . . Little, Brown, $26.95 (560pp) ISBN 978-0-316-18141-9

Human rights come from human wrongs, argues famed criminal and civil rights lawyer Dershowitz; only by looking closely at past in justice we can construct a theory and law that attempts a more perfect justice. This collection of 55 short pieces (some new, most reprinted) maps out Dershowitz's thoughts on a wide range of legal and social topics: the role of psychiatry in the legal process, the problems of how the U.S. legal system chooses judges, the misuses of entrapment and "sting" operations even when used to correct an injustice, the history and legal ramifications of the death penalty. Some, like a two paragraph show of support for former Harvard Divinity School dean Robert F. Thiemann, who resigned when pornography was found on his university-owned computer, hardly feel worth reprinting. When Dershowitz is at his best, however, as when defending his defenses of "obviously guilty" clients like O.J. Simpson or asking in a playful and thoughtful essay 'Why Are There So Many Jewish Lawyers?" he is witty, pungent and incisive. Of particular interest are several essays written after September 11, dealing with the danger to civil liberties in time of national emergency and to fair trials for accused terrorists, as well as several ("Wiretaps and National Security Surveillance" and "Torture of Terrorists: Is it Necessary to Do—and to Lie About It?") written before but pertinent now. Some provocative, even essential, material stands out in an uneven collection. (Jan.)

Forecast:This book should do unusually well for a miscellany, spurred by its post-September 11 relevance and Dershowitz's reputation for wit and rigor within his spinning. Look for stepped-up media appearances by the already heavily booked Dershowitz, and short "what's he up to now?" pieces in nonreview venues.