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

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A unique collaboration between the American Civil Liberties Union and authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, Fight of the Century features original essays by the most influential writers at work today—including Jennifer Egan, Neil Gaiman, Marlon James, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Salman Rushdie, Jesmyn Ward, and more—each writing about a landmark ACLU case, published in conjunc A unique collaboration between the American Civil Liberties Union and authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, Fight of the Century features original essays by the most influential writers at work today—including Jennifer Egan, Neil Gaiman, Marlon James, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Salman Rushdie, Jesmyn Ward, and more—each writing about a landmark ACLU case, published in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the organization. The American Civil Liberties Union began as a small group of idealists and visionaries, including Helen Keller and Jane Addams. A century after its founding, the ACLU remains the nation’s premier defender of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. In collaboration with the ACLU, prize-winning authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman have curated an anthology of essays about landmark cases in the ACLU’s 100-year history. In Fight of the Century, bestselling and award-winning authors present unique literary takes on historic decisions like Brown v. Board of Education, the Scopes trial, Roe v. Wade, and more. Contributors include Geraldine Brooks, Michael Cunningham, Jennifer Egan, Dave Eggers, Louise Erdrich, Neil Gaiman, Lauren Groff, Marlon James, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Morgan Parker, Ann Patchett, Salman Rushdie, George Saunders, Elizabeth Strout, Jesmyn Ward, Meg Wolitzer, and more. Fight of the Century shows how throughout American history, pivotal legal battles, fought primarily by underdogs and their lawyers, have advanced civil rights and social justice. The ACLU has been integral in this process. The essays range from personal memoir to narrative history, each shedding light on the work of one remarkable organization as it shaped a country. Chabon and Waldman are donating their advance to the ACLU and the contributors are forgoing payment.


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A unique collaboration between the American Civil Liberties Union and authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, Fight of the Century features original essays by the most influential writers at work today—including Jennifer Egan, Neil Gaiman, Marlon James, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Salman Rushdie, Jesmyn Ward, and more—each writing about a landmark ACLU case, published in conjunc A unique collaboration between the American Civil Liberties Union and authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman, Fight of the Century features original essays by the most influential writers at work today—including Jennifer Egan, Neil Gaiman, Marlon James, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Salman Rushdie, Jesmyn Ward, and more—each writing about a landmark ACLU case, published in conjunction with the 100th anniversary of the organization. The American Civil Liberties Union began as a small group of idealists and visionaries, including Helen Keller and Jane Addams. A century after its founding, the ACLU remains the nation’s premier defender of the rights and freedoms guaranteed by the Constitution. In collaboration with the ACLU, prize-winning authors Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman have curated an anthology of essays about landmark cases in the ACLU’s 100-year history. In Fight of the Century, bestselling and award-winning authors present unique literary takes on historic decisions like Brown v. Board of Education, the Scopes trial, Roe v. Wade, and more. Contributors include Geraldine Brooks, Michael Cunningham, Jennifer Egan, Dave Eggers, Louise Erdrich, Neil Gaiman, Lauren Groff, Marlon James, Viet Thanh Nguyen, Morgan Parker, Ann Patchett, Salman Rushdie, George Saunders, Elizabeth Strout, Jesmyn Ward, Meg Wolitzer, and more. Fight of the Century shows how throughout American history, pivotal legal battles, fought primarily by underdogs and their lawyers, have advanced civil rights and social justice. The ACLU has been integral in this process. The essays range from personal memoir to narrative history, each shedding light on the work of one remarkable organization as it shaped a country. Chabon and Waldman are donating their advance to the ACLU and the contributors are forgoing payment.

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

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jaclyn (sixminutesforme)

    “This belief that black people, brown people, queer people, trans people, disabled people, women are perpetually less is the great American Gorgon, and these endless terrible laws and behaviors are its myriad heads, regenerating one after another. Rooting us in place with one glance, miring us in inequality.” (Jesmyn Ward’s essay “We Gather,” reflecting on the 1999 decision in City of Chicago v Morales). FIGHT OF THE CENTURY edited by Michael Chabon & Ayelet Waldman is an anthology of essays penn “This belief that black people, brown people, queer people, trans people, disabled people, women are perpetually less is the great American Gorgon, and these endless terrible laws and behaviors are its myriad heads, regenerating one after another. Rooting us in place with one glance, miring us in inequality.” (Jesmyn Ward’s essay “We Gather,” reflecting on the 1999 decision in City of Chicago v Morales). FIGHT OF THE CENTURY edited by Michael Chabon & Ayelet Waldman is an anthology of essays penned by writers reflecting on landmark decisions that the ACLU have been involved with over the last 100 years. I’ve loved the stories behind some of the circumstances of the decisions, many will be well known to readers though there were definitely many that I found myself learning about for the first time. Lauren Groff writes about Norma McCorvey, the “Jane Roe” in Roe v Wade, and the two “young and green” attorneys from the University of Texas Law School that took her case to the Supreme Court. The quote shared above from Jesmyn Ward’s essay was a reflection on an anti gang loitering law that disproportionately targeted youth on racial grounds, and the impact of this robbing the community of the “very human pleasure of gathering in public and sharing community.” The legal history component is balanced with the very personal reflections shared by these authors, making this an incredibly moving and informative collection. I can not recommend it highly enough! Thanks to @nycbookgirl & @avidreaderpress for sending me a review copy.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Ben VonArchimboldi

    This book is a conglomeration of essays by generally famous and excellent writers and artists. Each essay writer takes on one of the ACLU’s most famous cases and describes the case and it’s effects sometimes in a macro level and other times micro and personal. Often the shorts are quite moving and beautiful. This is a great read.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Christine

    Is it too early in the year to say that if you buy one book this year, it should be this one? Yes, I know Mantel’s conclusion is coming out next month, but you should really consider this one. I first read about in the NYT Book Review. That day, I went out and brought it, mostly because of Marlon James and Victor LaValle (the reviewer really liked those essays). Then I pulled the book down from the shelf and so who else is it in. Jacqueline Woodson. Geraldine Brooks. Neil Gaiman. Salman Rushdie. Is it too early in the year to say that if you buy one book this year, it should be this one? Yes, I know Mantel’s conclusion is coming out next month, but you should really consider this one. I first read about in the NYT Book Review. That day, I went out and brought it, mostly because of Marlon James and Victor LaValle (the reviewer really liked those essays). Then I pulled the book down from the shelf and so who else is it in. Jacqueline Woodson. Geraldine Brooks. Neil Gaiman. Salman Rushdie. George Saunders. Jesmyn Ward. The book is a collection of essays celebrating the ACLU and famous cases. And there really isn’t a bad essay in the bunch. Each author takes a case and the essay is mediation on it. Perhaps the most touching is Woodson’s essay on the Scottsboro Boys. The cases go up to the present day, and the essays are, understandably political. The politics run from the border wall to free speech to the taking of Native American children. The best essay in the collection is the one by Morgan Parker, which strangely was not mentioned in the NYT Review. I haven’t read Parker before. His essay is the one you want everyone to read. You want to make copies and hand them out on the street. Honesty, read it. It’s just so bloody powerful.

  4. 4 out of 5

    Erik

    If you were to take a moment and consider what life would be like in the United States had 100 years ago the founders of the ACLU not realized the necessity for a legal organization to protect our civil liberties, you might have shivers sent down your spine. In "Fight of the Century" a litany of heavyweight writers, scholars, and lawyers recount a small fraction of the countless cases the ACLU has used over the last century to protect our rights and liberties as Americans and as human beings. Eac If you were to take a moment and consider what life would be like in the United States had 100 years ago the founders of the ACLU not realized the necessity for a legal organization to protect our civil liberties, you might have shivers sent down your spine. In "Fight of the Century" a litany of heavyweight writers, scholars, and lawyers recount a small fraction of the countless cases the ACLU has used over the last century to protect our rights and liberties as Americans and as human beings. Each essay in this collection begins with a brief case summary and is paired with an essay. Some essays recount personal connections with the cases, others tell the histories of the cases, and others still use the cases as springboards to discuss the ways in which we still face social problems today. Despite the form the essays take, though, it is undeniable that whether fighting for our right to read "Ulysses," our right to not be forced to learn about "intelligent design," the rights of trans people not to be fired, and the right of Native Americans not to have their children taken away, the ACLU has been there to fight. Unfortunately the book clearly lacked a fact checker: historical inaccuracies were present (Norma McCorvey - the plaintiff in Roe - did not convert to Catholicism, she became a born-again evangelical) and legal inaccuracies (a case didn't not have a jury because it was a civil case; it didn't have a jury because questions of Constitutional law are decided by judges.) But in spite of these few errors, this book stands as a testament to the fights fought, the fights won, the fights lost, and the fights to come. Read this book, don't forget, and keep fighting on.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Thomas

    Some of these "reflections" are about the cases themselves, and others are about the societal conditions that gave rise to them, with equal parts constitutional analysis and passionate rant. Neil Gaiman's and George Saunders' essays are reasonably even-handed. The ones about civil rights are the most heated, and justifiably so. But the best is the one that argues against the ACLU's position in Citizens' United. In what is probably their least celebrated case, the ACLU helped to establish as law Some of these "reflections" are about the cases themselves, and others are about the societal conditions that gave rise to them, with equal parts constitutional analysis and passionate rant. Neil Gaiman's and George Saunders' essays are reasonably even-handed. The ones about civil rights are the most heated, and justifiably so. But the best is the one that argues against the ACLU's position in Citizens' United. In what is probably their least celebrated case, the ACLU helped to establish as law the rights of corporations and labor unions to contribute unlimited amounts of money to political candidates in the guise of "free speech." In his essay, Scott Turow rails against the Supreme Court's decision and against the ACLU's participation in Citizens United, and the ACLU ends up looking like a rag doll run over in the rain. But the mere fact that Turow's diatribe is included here says something about the ACLU. Honey Badger don't care, and neither does the ACLU. The only thing the ACLU cares about is liberty. They have no values, per se. They will defend anyone, from the defenseless immigrant to the most ardent racist to the fictitious personal entity called a "corporation," if liberty is at stake. They're brilliant when they're right and they're infuriating when they're wrong, but at least they're brutually consistent. So thank you, ACLU, for including Turow's essay, and for all your dark arts. But dammit, money is still not "speech."

  6. 4 out of 5

    Porter Broyles

    This book has multi personality disorder. Every chapter is written by a different position/person. Every chapter is read by somebody else. Some are told in first person, other in 3rd. Some are serious expirations into the case, others are simply people telling personal anecdotes. This creates a disjointed feel in the book. Some of the stories I really liked, but some were disapointing. I don't know how much of Ulysseys v US is true, but I hope it is. Same with the closing argument for Brandenburg This book has multi personality disorder. Every chapter is written by a different position/person. Every chapter is read by somebody else. Some are told in first person, other in 3rd. Some are serious expirations into the case, others are simply people telling personal anecdotes. This creates a disjointed feel in the book. Some of the stories I really liked, but some were disapointing. I don't know how much of Ulysseys v US is true, but I hope it is. Same with the closing argument for Brandenburg v Ohio. Reno v ACLU And Ashcroft v ACLU was possibly my favorite story, it was also the most serious in tone... What is the relationship between freedom of speech when measured against responsibility to protect minors? Excellent discussion

  7. 4 out of 5

    Donna Davis

    In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the American Civil Liberties Union, a large cross section of the finest writers alive have written essays, each about one landmark case. Chabon and his co-editor, Ayelet Waldman, contributed their advance to the organization, and all of the contributing authors did so free of charge. As for this reviewer, I’d have been interested in an ACLU publication, even if I hadn’t heard of the writers involved; and I’d have been interested in anything written by C In celebration of the 100th anniversary of the American Civil Liberties Union, a large cross section of the finest writers alive have written essays, each about one landmark case. Chabon and his co-editor, Ayelet Waldman, contributed their advance to the organization, and all of the contributing authors did so free of charge. As for this reviewer, I’d have been interested in an ACLU publication, even if I hadn’t heard of the writers involved; and I’d have been interested in anything written by Chabon, even if the story or topic wasn’t in my lane. As it is, I count myself beyond lucky to have scored a review copy courtesy of Net Galley and Simon and Schuster. It’s for sale now. This is the sort of book that invites skipping around, either according to subject, or according to the authors you love best. Because of this, I recommend buying it in paper rather than digitally, because flipping around out of order in digital format is a pain in the butt. Also, this is the sort of classical reference material that you’d want on your shelf. In fact, I want a physical copy myself. I haven’t read all of the entries, but I’ve read enough of them to recommend it to you. The cases discussed are meaty and interesting, and they aren’t the standard fodder that shows up in every undergraduate course on Constitutional law. Each entry is succinct, and the writers refrain from self-promotion. The entries I appreciate most so far are by Jesmyn Ward, who discusses the use of anti-loitering laws to transform free Black boys and men into slave laborers; Timothy Egan, who details a 1962 decision regarding the right to receive Communist literature in the U.S. mail; and Louse Erdrich, who discusses digital snooping and surveillance used against the Dakota Pipeline protesters in 2016. I know there are many more I want to read, but I am posting this now so that you can get a copy while it’s in the stores. Here’s your chance. You can get an outstanding addition to your home library while contributing to a worthwhile organization whose work is more crucial now than ever. Highly recommended.

  8. 5 out of 5

    Noelia Alonso

    RATING: 3.5 STARS (7/10) This was very interesting indeed. A bunch of essays around different law cases where the ACLU has taken part. I enjoyed the majority of them but it's true that a few were too heavy on the legal technicalities and I felt they weren't "friendly" to those who, like me, are not familiar with legal language. However, I do recommend it. I learnt a lot. RATING: 3.5 STARS (7/10) This was very interesting indeed. A bunch of essays around different law cases where the ACLU has taken part. I enjoyed the majority of them but it's true that a few were too heavy on the legal technicalities and I felt they weren't "friendly" to those who, like me, are not familiar with legal language. However, I do recommend it. I learnt a lot.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Julia

    Fascinating book, greatest hits author list. I loved that there wasn’t a format they were given to stay within, and how each chapter had a distinct voice. I didn’t listen to the audiobook, but know it is recommended... especially since Samuel L Jackson narrates one of the most interesting cases. It is interesting to see how expansive the 14th amendment is applied. After reading several cases about it went and looked at the actual text of it again. I have a lot of interest in this one in particul Fascinating book, greatest hits author list. I loved that there wasn’t a format they were given to stay within, and how each chapter had a distinct voice. I didn’t listen to the audiobook, but know it is recommended... especially since Samuel L Jackson narrates one of the most interesting cases. It is interesting to see how expansive the 14th amendment is applied. After reading several cases about it went and looked at the actual text of it again. I have a lot of interest in this one in particular because it directly relates to the work I do: putting brackets on equity and justice... I’m curious to see how it’s application evolves as the ACLU spends more time and effort on the topic of environmental justice within civil rights work.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Kirsty Mcdougall

    ⁣ The list of authors that contributed to this essay collection is amazing! ⁣ ⁣ The book celebrates 100 years of ACLU case law. Each essay is inspired by a landmark US case but there are so many wide ranging perspectives. Some authors use the case to tell anecdotes from their own life others have used it to express their views on a topic. ⁣ ⁣ I love that in putting this collection together essays were included that greatly critique some of the positions the ACLU have taken. This is a really well roun ⁣ The list of authors that contributed to this essay collection is amazing! ⁣ ⁣ The book celebrates 100 years of ACLU case law. Each essay is inspired by a landmark US case but there are so many wide ranging perspectives. Some authors use the case to tell anecdotes from their own life others have used it to express their views on a topic. ⁣ ⁣ I love that in putting this collection together essays were included that greatly critique some of the positions the ACLU have taken. This is a really well rounded collection and I recommend it to everyone! ⁣ ⁣ I have too many favourite essays to name! I thought I would slip in and out of this book reading an essay at a time but I was engrossed and always excited to pick this book up. ⁣

  11. 4 out of 5

    David V.

    Received as an ARC from the publisher. Started 11-28-19; finished 12-7-19. Excellent history of the most influential ACLU cases, as well as a history of the last 100 years of the United States. As a reference book, it's a great companion piece to How to Read the Constitution and Why by Kim Wehle. Both help you to understand our country, its good points and its flaws---and its efforts to live up to its ideals--even if it has to be forced by legal action. The stories behind these cases are truly f Received as an ARC from the publisher. Started 11-28-19; finished 12-7-19. Excellent history of the most influential ACLU cases, as well as a history of the last 100 years of the United States. As a reference book, it's a great companion piece to How to Read the Constitution and Why by Kim Wehle. Both help you to understand our country, its good points and its flaws---and its efforts to live up to its ideals--even if it has to be forced by legal action. The stories behind these cases are truly fascinating. Some seem so obvious now, but they certainly weren't obvious in their time. Also points up the importance of intelligent, empathetic and future-thinking judges.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Traci at The Stacks

    This is really strong collection. I loved hearing how each author interpreted their case. I also loved how there were different readers for each essay on the audiobook. It’s powerful. It went in slightly too long for me and some essays were medium. But I’m glad I read this book.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Anna

    As a card-carrying ACLU member whose favorite part of AP Gov in high school was learning about SCOTUS cases, I think it was a foregone conclusion that I was going to like this book. 40 essays from 40 authors ranging from Neil Gaiman to Jesmyn Ward. Each author picks one SCOTUS case that: has somehow impacted them; relates to something that has happened in their lives; or just a case the writer feels extremely strongly about. While most of the essays are filled with adulation for the ACLU's role As a card-carrying ACLU member whose favorite part of AP Gov in high school was learning about SCOTUS cases, I think it was a foregone conclusion that I was going to like this book. 40 essays from 40 authors ranging from Neil Gaiman to Jesmyn Ward. Each author picks one SCOTUS case that: has somehow impacted them; relates to something that has happened in their lives; or just a case the writer feels extremely strongly about. While most of the essays are filled with adulation for the ACLU's role in the cases, there are a few instances were the ACLU or certain branches of the ACLU are not painted in a positive light. I commend the editors for adding those essays into the book. I have to say it's probably because I whole-heartedly agree with Scott Turow's impassioned essay full of frustration and anger about the ACLU's stance regarding Citizen's United (which really goes all the way back to Buckley v. Valeo). With so many essays in the collection, there are obviously ones that are more captivating and/or interesting than others. But at no time did I ever get bored listening, in fact, Hammond lucked out and got longer walks so I could listen longer. While many cases discussed are "big cases" that everyone probably knows (ie: Roe v. Wade, Korematsu v. United States) there are also some cases that people might not know the names, and there are some that people might not know in general. Regardless, every essay starts with a brief summary of the case itself. Some go into a lot of detail about the case in the essay while others stay focused on an aspect of the writer's life or the impact on society as a whole. I don't think anyone who reads or listens to this book needs to know the cases prior to this book. The audiobook is a treat in itself, each essay has a different narrator and the list includes the likes of Samuel L. Jackson and Lucy Liu. It's a pretty stellar voice cast. Some of the authors, such as Michael Chabon and Neil Gaiman opt to read their own essays and they're good as well. All in all, I enjoyed listening to the book. The audiobook was well produced and the essays were all interesting and caught my interest. I do think that people who are more left-leaning would enjoy this book a lot more.

  14. 5 out of 5

    Kevin Hu

    A testament to free speech and how the ACLU has tried their best to uphold American liberties for the least of these. All of the essays are illuminating and the style, diverse. I appreciated how FOTC demonstrated that certain cases could not exist without previous fights having been won. The needle of progress moves slowly but the goal is always the same. That all are equally recognized and has equal access to the liberties the constitution is meant to provide them. Because of this egalitarian v A testament to free speech and how the ACLU has tried their best to uphold American liberties for the least of these. All of the essays are illuminating and the style, diverse. I appreciated how FOTC demonstrated that certain cases could not exist without previous fights having been won. The needle of progress moves slowly but the goal is always the same. That all are equally recognized and has equal access to the liberties the constitution is meant to provide them. Because of this egalitarian vision, the ACLU has at times fought for some controversial cases that may feel like an assault on democracy such as Buckley v. Valeo on putting limits to individual contributions of an election campaign. Nonetheless, ACLU has often stood as needed representation for those who our laws, systems, and governments have pushed to the margins, in order to shape a more perfect union.

  15. 4 out of 5

    Savannah

    as a constitutional law nerd and someone who gets emotional reading the holdings of many of the substantive due process cases, this collection was obviously right up my alley. almost all of my faves are here - Brown, Loving, Tinker, Miranda, Roe, Windsor - and the audiobook format, where a whole host of famous actors and writers lend their voices to the narration, is so good. Brad Whitford/Josh Lyman excoriating the campaign finance decisions has got to be one of my love languages. that, and Mose as a constitutional law nerd and someone who gets emotional reading the holdings of many of the substantive due process cases, this collection was obviously right up my alley. almost all of my faves are here - Brown, Loving, Tinker, Miranda, Roe, Windsor - and the audiobook format, where a whole host of famous actors and writers lend their voices to the narration, is so good. Brad Whitford/Josh Lyman excoriating the campaign finance decisions has got to be one of my love languages. that, and Moses Sumney's essay for Zadvydas v. Davis was pure fire.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Jo Stafford

    This collection of essays celebrating 100 years of the ACLU’s tireless work defending and expanding the rights of vulnerable and marginalized people is a real gem. I wasn’t sure how to approach reading Fight of the Century at first. It includes essays by some of my favorite living writers - Marlon James, Louise Erdrich, Jesmyn Ward, Michael Chabon - so the temptation was to head straight to their contributions. I decided against this, though, in favor of reading the book from start to finish rath This collection of essays celebrating 100 years of the ACLU’s tireless work defending and expanding the rights of vulnerable and marginalized people is a real gem. I wasn’t sure how to approach reading Fight of the Century at first. It includes essays by some of my favorite living writers - Marlon James, Louise Erdrich, Jesmyn Ward, Michael Chabon - so the temptation was to head straight to their contributions. I decided against this, though, in favor of reading the book from start to finish rather than jumping around through its pages. Some contributors offer straightforward reportage of the cases they have chosen to write about, while others take a more personal and reflective approach. As you would expect from a line-up of some of the 21st century’s finest wordsmiths, there is a great deal of truly beautiful and powerful writing here. In particular, I was deeply moved by Jacqueline Woodson’s reflections on the Scottsboro Boys, Brit Bennett’s stunning essay on dissent, patriotism and Colin Kaepernick, and Anthony Doerr’s call for compassion and understanding. Ann Patchett’s final sentences seem to me to sum up perfectly why the ACLU is so important. “We must work to create a society with liberty and justice for all,” she writes. “We will fail and fail and fail at this goal. Our failure is the history of the world. But our humanity is in the fact that we never cease to try.”

  17. 5 out of 5

    Eighmey

    I listened to this via Audible. It was not set up the way I thought it would be, but was okay with that. It is worth a listen/read to remember all of the things the ACLU has done to try and ensure our rights as Americans are held firm.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Meghan Burke

    Good audiobook.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kathleen

    With all-star readers and brilliant writers, this collection is tremendously compelling. Some of these essays are a retelling of the case, reflecting on the history and what has come after the landmark ruling. Some are more personal. Yaa Gyasi brings us from her high school to the stars in "Rocket City". Michael Cunningham takes us with him into a parade that is protest, fight, and free assembly. On the less personal side of things, I respected Johnathan Lethem's perspective on profanity in "Dis With all-star readers and brilliant writers, this collection is tremendously compelling. Some of these essays are a retelling of the case, reflecting on the history and what has come after the landmark ruling. Some are more personal. Yaa Gyasi brings us from her high school to the stars in "Rocket City". Michael Cunningham takes us with him into a parade that is protest, fight, and free assembly. On the less personal side of things, I respected Johnathan Lethem's perspective on profanity in "Disturbing the War" a great deal. Whether personal, reflective, or profane, this collection did a beautiful job of matching stories to readers. John Cho, Lucy Liu, Bradley Whitford, and other extremely well chosen actors read whenever the author of the story didn't. My personal favorite was Sir Patrick Stewart reading sarcastic Salaman Rushdie, but everyone was great. I highly recommend this book to all readers. Spring for the audio version if you like that sort of thing.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Shomeret

    What drew me to Fight of the Century edited by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman was prominent author names. Authors with a legal background, or who had written about topics related to the case, wrote better essays. I read all the essays and averaged my ratings for each contribution to come up with the rating for the entire anthology. My goal for essays in Fight of the Century was to learn more about the issues involved in the case, its participants or its impact. The essays I favored were the o What drew me to Fight of the Century edited by Michael Chabon and Ayelet Waldman was prominent author names. Authors with a legal background, or who had written about topics related to the case, wrote better essays. I read all the essays and averaged my ratings for each contribution to come up with the rating for the entire anthology. My goal for essays in Fight of the Century was to learn more about the issues involved in the case, its participants or its impact. The essays I favored were the ones that I considered the most eye-opening. Other readers may be better informed about a particular issue than I am. The reverse may also be true. There could be readers who are less informed than I am about the subjects of an essay that I considered a re-hash of familiar points. These readers will probably have other choices for the best contributions to this anthology. Scott Turow's contribution to Fight of the Century, "Spending Money Isn't Speech", astonished me because I hadn't known that the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) actually supported what I, and many others, consider to be among the most harmful Supreme Court decisions of the first decade of the 21st century. Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010) has made it nearly impossible to legislate against the interests of powerful corporations and has led to the current situation in the United States in which democracy is in jeopardy. Dave Eggers' essay is "Legal Counsel at the Moment Most Crucial" which was about Escobedo v. Illinois (1964), a case which allowed suspects to have a lawyer present when they are interrogated by police. Readers who are interested in justice reform will find it as important as I did. The reason why I am calling attention to "Loving", Aleksandr Hemon's essay on Loving v. Virginia (1967), is because of Hemon's perspective on the case. Many readers might wonder what someone who was born in Sarajevo could bring to discussion of a Supreme court ruling that declared racist laws against miscegenation unconstitutional. How is Hemon's experience relevant? The attitude in Sarajevo toward marriages in which the partners were from two different ethnic groups changed radically as a result of the tragic civil war that took place in Bosnia. Hemon discusses his feelings about this issue in the context of the social upheaval in his country of origin. He also mentions his own twelve year marriage to an African American woman. I felt that the way Hemon addressed Loving v. Virginia was moving and highly appropriate. This was a provocative anthology. A number of the court cases dissected in this volume continue to be subjects of controversy that divide American society. I predict that Fight of the Century will be regarded as a valuable reference book to be cited in the ongoing debates that are central to my nation's politics. For my complete review see https://shomeretmasked.blogspot.com/2...

  21. 4 out of 5

    RuthAnn

    Would recommend Thank you to Avid Reader Press for my free copy! I am a terrible student of history, and I owe it to books like Fight of Century to teach me in sneaky ways. Some essays are get into the legal weeds of these landmark cases, and others are deeply personal. They come together to hammer home the point: Supreme Court decisions are not lofty, academic exercises, and their outcomes have huge impact on real people. Failing to be informed about the mechanics of the process or the milestone Would recommend Thank you to Avid Reader Press for my free copy! I am a terrible student of history, and I owe it to books like Fight of Century to teach me in sneaky ways. Some essays are get into the legal weeds of these landmark cases, and others are deeply personal. They come together to hammer home the point: Supreme Court decisions are not lofty, academic exercises, and their outcomes have huge impact on real people. Failing to be informed about the mechanics of the process or the milestone decisions that inform judicial decisions is not an option any more. Reading this book reminded me of reading Notorious RBG: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg in that I realized just how little I knew. I took over 2 months to make my way through this collection, and I'm glad I took my time. I would recommend it to everyone, especially history buffs and people interested or connected with the legal profession, and readers who would like to diversify their reading lives. The diversity of contributors here is excellent, and exploring the works of the writers would only serve you well. --- "Scottsboro, USA: A Brief History" by Jacqueline Woodson How do we begin to tell this country's story without turning our own selves inside out? (10) "The Dirtiest, Most Indecent, Obscene Thing Ever Written" by Michael Chabon ... there was no other way to do it; to find out if speech was protected or not, one was obliged, first of all, to speak. (17) "Rocket City" by Yaa Gyasi "We choose to go to the moon in this decade and do the other things, not because they are easy, but because they are hard, because that goal will serve to organize and measure the best of our energies and skills, because that challenge is one that we are willing to accept, one that we are unwilling to postpone, and one that we intend to win." (51, John F. Kennedy) "Loving" by Aleksandar Hemon ... laws can and must change to reflect the indelible realities of human life and life. (99) "Secrets and Lies" by Salman Rushdie ... I know that the first step toward authoritarianism is always the destruction of people's belief that journalism is, broadly speaking, pursuing and telling the truth. (136) "Bob Jones Builds a Wall" by Morgan Parker Words are always blooming with possibility. (171) "Stateside Statelessness" by Moses Sumney We get our sense of self from a sense of home. We are taught to root our identities in feelings of belonging and community. We are programmed, across customs, to define ourselves by our origins first and our preferences second. But who are you if you can't be identified? (219-220) "You've Given Me a Lot to Think About" by Charlie Jane Anders I'm not here to give you a lot to think about. My body is not statement, or an inconvenience, or a threat to anyone's security. ... When some bodies are illegal, when people are forced to choose either having basic rights or being their authentic selves, then everybody is diminished. (267)

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sarah-Hope

    This is a book I'll be coming back to again and again, both for my own reading and for use in courses I teach. It covers a huge range of civil rights cases, presenting them clearly and offering succinct, engaging reflections on them. This is the kind of writing, involving both research and personal reflection, that I encourage my students to do. If things go as I plan, I will use this as a class text for the first time next winter. This is a book I'll be coming back to again and again, both for my own reading and for use in courses I teach. It covers a huge range of civil rights cases, presenting them clearly and offering succinct, engaging reflections on them. This is the kind of writing, involving both research and personal reflection, that I encourage my students to do. If things go as I plan, I will use this as a class text for the first time next winter.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Evangeline

    A vital and enlightening book that shows how many crucial parts of American culture were put into place through Supreme Court cases and the work of the ACLU. From free speech issues, to women's health, to rights of those arrested and detained, to rights of immigrants, LGBTQ + groups, and Native Americans, these essays cover the times the ACLU fought - and continues to fight - for equal treatment under the law. Fascinating from a constitutional interpretation standpoint too. I listened to the aud A vital and enlightening book that shows how many crucial parts of American culture were put into place through Supreme Court cases and the work of the ACLU. From free speech issues, to women's health, to rights of those arrested and detained, to rights of immigrants, LGBTQ + groups, and Native Americans, these essays cover the times the ACLU fought - and continues to fight - for equal treatment under the law. Fascinating from a constitutional interpretation standpoint too. I listened to the audiobook, which has a star-studded lineup of both writers and readers.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Paula Lyle

    It is easy to forget how hard some of us have had to fight to obtain or retain rights that others take for granted. Some of these essays are easier to read and understand than others, but overall this is an important record of the unending fight that the ACLU has undertaken to ensure rights for all. Thank you to all the writers who have responded and contributed to this volume.

  25. 4 out of 5

    MIKE Watkins Jr.

    Pros: 1. The format is similar to "The End of Hunger" in that there are multiple writers rather than one. But what I like about this book is that unlike "The End of Hunger" it's very organized. Each writer gets a separate case they comment on and each case leads to the next case until we get to a present Pipeline Case that the ACLU is currently working on. 2. I like how there is such a variety in regards to the approach/style each writer chooses to take when analyzing their selected case. Some wer Pros: 1. The format is similar to "The End of Hunger" in that there are multiple writers rather than one. But what I like about this book is that unlike "The End of Hunger" it's very organized. Each writer gets a separate case they comment on and each case leads to the next case until we get to a present Pipeline Case that the ACLU is currently working on. 2. I like how there is such a variety in regards to the approach/style each writer chooses to take when analyzing their selected case. Some were personally involved/impacted with the case in some way so they tell their story, others get into the legal jargon (was great reading the "lawyer writers" who did this), others describe how one case impacts society as a whole, etc. 2A. These different styles stem from the fact that figures of a variety of fields were selected in a way. Sure all of them were writers but writers from different genres and some were/are lawyers, musicians, and filmmakers as well. 3. I like how A big-time lawyer and author in this book were allowed to argue against the ACLU for a particular case. I feel like his section showcased that the ACLU, like any other organization if you "look beyond the veal" is composed of fallible human beings that are capable of making wrong decisions. Cons: 1. I felt like some of the writers "flexed too much" or they tried to place as many big words as they could into one sentence just for the heck of it and you could tell. 1A. Some writers well..... "flexed too little" lol like they would just literally describe the case and what led up to the case and that's it like you could basically google the insight they provided, or maybe they googled, yourself. 2. The book needed more writers that are also lawyers and/or legal scholars. Don't get me wrong I enjoyed the historical insight and storytelling but certain cases needed individuals to dig up extra details and legal professionals are the best for that kind of thing. 3. Certain sections were way too long and I found myself reading half of those and skipping half of them. Additionally, in certain sections, writers were either too biased (liberal) and/or failed to showcase why a particular narrowly applicable case should matter to me and what I should get from it personally so I skipped some of those sections in their entirety after a few pages in.

  26. 5 out of 5

    John Carey

    Wow this book was opulent for a listener, as I chose the audiobook version. It's like the Coachella of banger authors and voice actors. Of course Samuel L Jackson steals the show, reading an essay by author Victor Lavelle, discussing so much more than case Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye vs City of Hialeah. I had no background in this case, but my attention was rapt both in content and delivery. While Sam had the best narration, its hard to pick an overall favorite when combining the content of Wow this book was opulent for a listener, as I chose the audiobook version. It's like the Coachella of banger authors and voice actors. Of course Samuel L Jackson steals the show, reading an essay by author Victor Lavelle, discussing so much more than case Church of the Lukumi Babalu Aye vs City of Hialeah. I had no background in this case, but my attention was rapt both in content and delivery. While Sam had the best narration, its hard to pick an overall favorite when combining the content of the essays themselves as they are all moving in unique and at their best, surprising, ways. An early surprise could be summed up in a thought: "people tried to get away with that??" I like to think I'm peripherally aware of many of the mistakes and misdeeds our country has made, or at the very least, aware of the classes of moral wrongs to which unknown specifics belong. Apparently not. The book made me aware of interesting legal terms like "strict scrutiny" and "heckler's veto." It also humanized the work a lot of people put in to get a basic level of respect and the obstacles they overcame. As a perennial devil's advocate, I was pleased that an essay critical of past ACLU action made the cut. That essay pertained to ACLU's support for Buckley vs Valeo, a case the author called the Dred Scott of the 20th century. My two very minor gripes were a lack of table contents for reminding yourself which author/narrator you're listening to and 1 or 2 too many references to Trump which dates the book. The book shows there's lots of work to be done; to keep the territory that has been won, admittedly under clear and present danger from the likes of Trump and related ilk. Also to continue to bend the arc of justice towards issues like Tribal Sovereignty and Environmental Justice, two issues that grow in importance in my worldview daily. Final note to myself to check out more on Dick Gregory, as he seems like a pretty cool dude.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Sophy

    As you'd expect with any compilation, I enjoyed some essays more than others. I was drawn to the book by the list of big-name-authors who contributed essays, which includes many of the authors of my favorite recent reads (Ann Patchett, Jesmyn Ward, Louise Erdrich, Viet Thanh Nguyen), but was pleasantly surprised by the essays of the authors less familiar to me. Similarly, many of the essays center on the big-name-cases (Roe, Korematsu, Brown v. Board) but I also loved being reminded of the detai As you'd expect with any compilation, I enjoyed some essays more than others. I was drawn to the book by the list of big-name-authors who contributed essays, which includes many of the authors of my favorite recent reads (Ann Patchett, Jesmyn Ward, Louise Erdrich, Viet Thanh Nguyen), but was pleasantly surprised by the essays of the authors less familiar to me. Similarly, many of the essays center on the big-name-cases (Roe, Korematsu, Brown v. Board) but I also loved being reminded of the details and backstory of cases I barely remember from law school. Some essays were dry, some were too off-the-wall for my taste, but they were all worth reading. I especially loved the more personal essays (particularly those about lgbtq rights). Bonus points to the amazing audiobook cast (hats off to Tony Shalhoub, Judith Light, Samuel L., my boyfriend Luke Kirby, and the almighty Josh Lyman, I mean, Bradley Whitford).

  28. 5 out of 5

    Niamh

    I picked this book up on whim, thinking that I might enjoy some personal takes on landmark rulings of the US Supreme Courts, and I did quite enjoy it. It's impossible to give this book more than a three stars because I didn't enjoy every essay - some are very dry and difficult to digest, whilst others are excellent pieces of writing that discuss important socio-political movements that went through the ACLU. I highly recommend the audiobook, however, as it's performed by a full cast. Samuel L Ja I picked this book up on whim, thinking that I might enjoy some personal takes on landmark rulings of the US Supreme Courts, and I did quite enjoy it. It's impossible to give this book more than a three stars because I didn't enjoy every essay - some are very dry and difficult to digest, whilst others are excellent pieces of writing that discuss important socio-political movements that went through the ACLU. I highly recommend the audiobook, however, as it's performed by a full cast. Samuel L Jackson even reads one of these essays!

  29. 5 out of 5

    Margie Kuzminski

    I didn't pay close attention to the title when I picked this up (I don't want to be one to judge a book by its cover!), so it was a pleasant surprise to discover the reality of *writers* reflecting on the landmark cases - this approach not only resulted in making the usually complex facts of each case more manageably digested, but also rendered more unexpected connections in a more literary way. The chapters were generally quite short but have real staying power - most especially Ann Patchett on I didn't pay close attention to the title when I picked this up (I don't want to be one to judge a book by its cover!), so it was a pleasant surprise to discover the reality of *writers* reflecting on the landmark cases - this approach not only resulted in making the usually complex facts of each case more manageably digested, but also rendered more unexpected connections in a more literary way. The chapters were generally quite short but have real staying power - most especially Ann Patchett on Edwards v. California, which alone is worth the price of admission. I hadn't known about the case, and will now make it part of my APUSH/SJ curriculum, and would encourage any English teacher who does The Grapes of Wrath to do the same.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Ngoc Bui

    reflections and essays from influential writers of all genres regarding civil rights cases that have changed the course of US history. i was not aware of many of these cases but each essay recounted them thoughtfully, critically, and with personal narratives to remind us how personal every issue effects each human living in this country regardless of how they may or may not relate to the issue addressed in the cases. highly recommend if you are interested in learning more about civil rights--in reflections and essays from influential writers of all genres regarding civil rights cases that have changed the course of US history. i was not aware of many of these cases but each essay recounted them thoughtfully, critically, and with personal narratives to remind us how personal every issue effects each human living in this country regardless of how they may or may not relate to the issue addressed in the cases. highly recommend if you are interested in learning more about civil rights--in fact, this should be required reading.

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