I am an avid eclectic reader.
I learned so much from this book. I must admit I had not read or studied anything about the history of the first amendment before. This absorbing book is about the law and also about change, how one man's thinking evolved nearly 100 years ago. For 125 years the first amendment was essentially dead until Holmes wrote his dissent in 1919. Thomas Healy shows us how Holmes was educated/persuaded to change his mind about the meaning and reach of our most fundamental safeguard. His friends, Justice Brandeis, Judge Learned Hand, Harold Laski, Felix Frankfurter, Zechariah Chafee (all teachers at Harvard) and others had discussion, letter exchanges and loaned or gave him books to read. Holmes was a voracious reader and during his summer breaks he devoured books that challenged his thinking. Holmes also had a habit we should all learn, he listened to people who didn't agree with him and set about to learn more about the topic from all view points.
The rule, at the time, borrowed from British practice, was that you could speak and publish freely without fear of prior restraint, but once you had spoken, the State had the freedom to prosecute you. Holmes had written the majority opinion in Debs V U.S. upholding the conviction. Eugene Debs was the Socialist candidate for President. He gave a campaign speech and was arrested after for violation of the Sedition act and sentence to 10 years in prison. I found this interesting because via Audible I had read "1920: The year of six Presidents" by David Pietrusza and "Clarence Darrow" by John A. Farrell. Darrow was Debs attorney. Both these books provided a great deal of information about Debs and the above mentioned case. Holmes had been a defender of the power of government to punish controversial speech. He was a Boston Brahmin and his friends were owners of big business so he dismissed the fight of and for unions and the problems of the workers.
I found it fascinating how Holmes's friend educated him at age 78 to change his mind. . When the Court reconvened in the fall they heard the case Abrams V U.S. Holmes decided to write the dissent opinion in the case and changed the Frist Amendment forever. He provided guidelines to help determine when the speech crossed the line, he stated "clear and present danger of public harm" to be the key. The Abrams case is covered in-depth in the book so I will not spoil it by going into it. Danny Campbell did a good job with the narration. This is a book I am going to read again.
This book can stand alone. It covers 1958 to 1964 a most interesting time in our history. It covers in depth the run for the 1960 election and the election of the Kennedy/Johnson ticket. I was surprised at the detailed information provided about the hateful treatment of Johnson by Robert Kennedy. Caro does show the good and bad points of Johnson and the Kennedy's and presents a well document history of the time leading up to during and after the assassination. The six month following the assassination showed Johnson at his best. He was able to use all his skills and depths of contact he had acquired in a life time of polictics to bring the government and this country under control and back to business. His passing of the civil rights act was a great accomplishment that everyone else had failed at since FDR. The book mostly deals with the 40 days after the assassination and the enormous problems Johnson faced. Gardner did a great job with the narration. The book does make me want read all the volumes in this series. The book is long and there was some repeating of information which could have been edited, other than that it is a great book. I could hardly put the book down.
This was an interesting story. I have lived through it all and remember the day like it was yesterday. It was nice to hear an insider view point. The narration could have been better. The author repeated several points over and over but at least he got the information across. The information on Jackie Kennedy was interesting and confirmed other stories about her. Like any book it has it good and bad part but it is well worth a listen. It was about time the secret service agents provided their view point of that horrible day in Dallas.
I focus on fiction, sci-fi, fantasy, science, history, politics and read a lot. I try to review everything I read.
This book should be read by anyone interested in the history of the CIA. I have rated this five stars, but this is not the perfect book, just a must read. The author clearly focuses only upon the failures of the CIA and glosses over any successes. Nevertheless, there is substantial value is focusing on failures (of course there is also value is focusing on successes, but that would be a different book). This book also does not seem to go out of its way to suggest tangible changes to improve the CIA.
The material is somewhat dry, and there is some jumping around. The narration is quite good, which helps keep the book interesting. This is not the best book about the CIA, but it is an indispensable viewpoint for anyone who wants to understand the agency.