cover image Fight of the Century: Writers Reflect on 100 Years of Landmark ACLU Cases

Fight of the Century: Writers Reflect on 100 Years of Landmark ACLU Cases

Edited by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman. Avid Reader, $27 (288p) ISBN 978-1-5011-9040-7

Husband and wife Chabon (Moonglow) and Waldman (A Really Good Day) gather dozens of prominent writers to commemorate the ACLU’s centennial with powerful, inspiring essays on the legal organization’s milestone cases. Addressing City of Chicago v. Morales (1999), novelist Jesmyn Ward (Sing, Unburied, Sing) explores how the concept of loitering has been used to police black communities. Novelist Michael Cunningham (A Wild Swan) recalls that a 1995 decision upholding the right of Boston’s Irish Council to ban LGBTQ marchers from its St. Patrick’s Day parade led to his arrest in New York City’s procession. Journalist Héctor Tobar (Deep Down Dark) memorably credits Miranda v. Arizona (1966) for turning Fifth Amendment protections into “a civic poem in free verse,” and poet Moriel Rothman-Zecher (Sadness Is a White Bird) skillfully traces the repercussions of a KKK leader’s overturned conviction in Brandenburg v. Ohio (1969). Fittingly, the book’s standout essay is also its most contrarian: novelist and lawyer Scott Turow (Testimony) delivers an impassioned takedown of the ACLU’s long-standing position that political spending is protected under the First Amendment. Vigorous, informative, and well-organized, this outstanding collection befits the ACLU’s substantial impact on American law and society. (Jan.)