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Dan

Worcester, MA, United States | Member Since 2007

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  • The Modern Scholar: Fundamental Cases: The Twentieth-Century Courtroom Battles That Changed Our Nation

    • UNABRIDGED (7 hrs and 54 mins)
    • By Alan M. Dershowitz
    Overall
    (160)
    Performance
    (73)
    Story
    (72)

    It was Alexis de Tocqueville who, when he visited the new republic for the first time, said that America was a unique country when it comes to law. Every great issue eventually comes before the courts. With this in mind, esteemed professor and civil liberties lawyer Alan Dershowitz looks at history through the prism of the trial, which presents a snapshot of what's going on in a particular point in time of the nation's history.

    Amazon Customer says: "I'd rather be able to rate each section."
    "Worth it, but not a must listen"
    Overall
    Performance
    Story

    I really enjoyed this lecture series. Like some other reviewers, I found some of the choices of which cases to include a little odd. Some of the cases, if you know much about them already--Leopold and Loeb, Saccho and Vinzetti--are kind of superficial and uninteresting. And some of Dershowitz's points are just not that interesting--that S&V got a bum deal because they weren't well connected. Shocking, shocking that that could happen. But Dershowitz has enough interesting insights and perspectives and just interesting personal stories to make the series interesting. For example, Scopes, of Scopes monkey fame, wasn't just teaching evolution, he was teaching eugenics. Ethel Rosenberg was almost certainly innocent while Julius was almost certainly guilty, and the prosecutors knew it and sought the death penalty against her to put pressure on him. The great majority of appeals, contrary to our impression, are rejected; and often, whatever the law says, you must convince a judge not just that an error was made in the original trial, but also that there's a reasonable chance that the person really is innocent, in order to have an appeal heard. Oh, and the police framed OJ. Which is not to say that he wasn't guilty--he was--but the police also undeniably planted evidence.

    Dershowitz has a great deal of force of personality, and is a great lecturer. Add to that the number of interesting points Dershowitz makes, and I think it merits buying and listening to this audiobook, but it's not a grand slam.

    I can't end this without remarking on how amusing it is to listen to Dershowitz contort himself during the OJ section, explaining how it would be inappropriate of him to speculate in a case he helped defend about the actual guilt or innocence of the defendant, and then to hear him go on in at least two more cases he personally defended to say that he genuinely believes the person was in fact innocent.

    3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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