Few amendments prompt more heated debate than the first. The amendment that allows for that debate to happen. Pulitzer Prize winner Anthony Lewis has spent much of his career debating the merits of our freedom of speech. Now he has chronicled the history of America's first amendment with Freedom for the Thought That We Hate: A Biography of the First Amendment.
Lewis spares no details,
writing in a smooth and engaging voice - a quality of writing worthy of his multiple Pulitzer Prize awards. The language of the first amendment is cut and dried, but its interpretation and the history attached to it is anything but. Lewis takes a step-by-step approach - or, more often, a legal case-by-case approach - to explain the journey of free speech in America.
A strength of the book is its overall arc: the path of the First Amendment from its origins to its contemporary issues. Judges are the catalysts of the story. Their interpretations and rulings have shaped the amendment through the years.
Lewis adds details and anecdotes about the judges and the rulings, making this a compelling read as well as an interesting resource. The book is as timely as it is timeless. As long as we can speak, we are bound to argue the merits of free speech.