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America on Trial: Inside the Legal Battles That Transformed Our Nation
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America on Trial: Inside the Legal Battles That Transformed Our Nation

3.68  ·  Rating Details ·  126 Ratings  ·  21 Reviews
The Boston Massacre. The Dred Scott decision. The Chicago Seven. O.J. Simpson. These are some of the trials that have both shaped and fascinated American society. Alan M. Dershowitz, who has been either a lawyer, consultant, or commentator on some of the most celebrated cases of the 1970s, 80s and 90s, highlights the trials he believes to be the most significant in our his ...more
Hardcover, 608 pages
Published May 14th 2004 by Warner Books (first published 2004)
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Kim. E.
This is an interesting, large book written by Alan Dershowitz, best known for his involvement in the O.J. Simpson trial. The purpose of this book is to look at different legal cases throughout our history and to see how they impacted our society legally and socially. Dershowitz says in the introduction that "some provide insight into the human condition. Others are noteworthy simply because they involve famous, or infamous, people. They all tell us something about our nation and about ourselves. ...more
Nov 30, 2007 Grant rated it liked it
the book is a collection of cases Dershowitz proposes transformed our nation, beginning from colonial times until the present day Guantanamo detainees. Dershowitz mostly does a good job of setting the climate and characters of all parties involved. and there are several case discussions such as the Bakke decision where he succinctly and intelligently explains not only the decision and its effect but also the "method behind the madness". there are accounts of what happened in the court room, but ...more
Melissa McHugh
May 27, 2012 Melissa McHugh rated it liked it
Here's what I liked:
- The introduction is incredibly well written and does exactly what an introduction is supposed to do. It made me excited to read the book. It talked about ancient, historical and global influences on the American legal system.
- Dershowitz has a great handle on American history and how it affected the legal cases at each step of history.
- I appreciate that it's not always about the big cases. For every Dred Scott, Lizzie Borden and OJ Simpson, there's John Webster, Stanford
Nov 12, 2012 Artguy rated it really liked it
Dershowitz, celebrity lawyer, Harvard law professor, and defender of OJ Simpson, discusses 15 trials he views as the most important in the past century. He provides insights into many of the trials he presided over, and in many ways got me thinking differently about cases I thought really only had one reasonable side (particularly Roe vs. Wade and the Scopes Monkey Trial). I especially appreciate his lawyerly way of approaching serious issues such as abortion, racism, and right wing Christianity ...more
Apr 02, 2013 Og rated it it was amazing
I'm really enjoying this book. I'm about 90% finished but the book is so enjoyable, I am not worried about my review changing.

Dershowitz discusses the cases that have influenced our law and politics. This book is especially interesting in light of the recent Supreme Court hearings on DOMA and same sex marriage. You don't have to be a lawyer to appreciate this book, but it does make it easier.

Dershowitz discusses cases including OJ, Mike Tyson, Klaus von Bulow, and Bush v. Gore. Keep in mind tha
Feb 27, 2010 Harpal rated it really liked it
This book is freakin' hilarious. Love or hate Dershowitz, it doesn't matter for this book. The Prof decides to take on every major case in US legal history, but not with a simple summary or review of the basic legal history. No, no, that would be below our dear Dershowitz. He proceeds to give a revisionist account of just about every single case. It's awesome. I have no idea how well respected any of these ideas are, but it's a great read with all sorts of interesting tidbits of info.

If you can
Jim Good
Dec 17, 2009 Jim Good rated it liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, history
Interesting perspective on the courts and justice in America. Uses trials to show the development of law in society and the evolution of thought in some cases (segregation, abortion, states rights, etc.). The most interesting case is that of Mike Tyson. And the Bush vs. Gore election decision of the Supreme Court. In Tyson he derides abuses of the justice system and gives several examples of why and how the court ruled the way it did. In Bush vs. Gore he shows how politics interfered with justic ...more
Jul 04, 2010 Mike marked it as to-read
Shelves: on-hold
I own this book, so it is 'on-hold' a lot while I take care of library books and the like. This is a good book to leave and come back to as it is divided up into decent-sized chapters that are sequential but not overly dependent.

So far, I am really enjoying this book - it is very readable and quite interesting for a history/law buff like myself and I look forward to picking it up again soon.
Aug 20, 2013 Mark rated it liked it
Shelves: read-nonfiction
Disappointed by the shallow description of Roe v. Wade. (My primary purpose in picking up this book was to learn more about that case.) But I learned more about the O.J. Simpson trial as well as Rodney King's case, Claus von Bulow's case, the Mike Tyson rape case, the Scopes trial, and the Rosenberg's case. 3 stars.
Mar 26, 2013 Valerie rated it liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
Generally a pretty good introduction to some of the major trials in the history of the US. The author draws some conclusions I don't necessarily agree with, and he was personally involved in some of the more recent cases, so you have to take what he says about those with a grain of salt, but overall a good read.
Very interesting review of some of the famous (infamous) trials of the 1980s and 1990s. I do agree with him that the Supreme Court must stay above politics in order to function properly, but we all know that doesn't happen.
Jul 04, 2011 Beth rated it really liked it
Very fascinating read! Author is quite opinionated, but that might be why the book is better than just reading the historical facts. He has so much first-hand experience, you can't help but think he is right on with most of his opinions.
Jul 22, 2007 Sammy rated it liked it
i read this book while still in law school. I had read most of the cases and had already anylized them from a legal scholar's point of view. I think it ruined the book for me.
Carissa Brown
Aug 19, 2014 Carissa Brown rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a good look at the history of court cases in America.
Apr 25, 2012 Ken rated it liked it
Good overview. I tired of the format.
Jan 19, 2016 Stacy rated it it was ok
Perhaps my interest in law has diminished over the years, but more likely this book is just not very engaging.
Steven Williams
Apr 30, 2014 Steven Williams rated it it was amazing
Another great book by Dershowitz. He seems to be very good author, as I have not read a book of his that wasn't good.
Mar 25, 2008 Simon rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Yes
It is a bunch of cases and I am reading them selectively. He is very readable. Okay, I decided to read all of them.
Dec 26, 2008 Kim rated it really liked it
Shelves: crime-law, courtroom
Great overview of major trials and their impact on the judicial system through American history. Good introduction.
Jeff Doucette
Nov 03, 2009 Jeff Doucette rated it liked it
Interesting, but, probably because these aren't his own cases--except for a few--his insights seem more superficial than in his other books.
Barbara rated it liked it
Nov 24, 2013
N.M. Silber
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Alan Morton Dershowitz is an American lawyer, jurist, and political commentator. He is the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard Law School. He is known for his career as an attorney in several high-profile law cases and commentary on the Arab-Israeli conflict.

He has spent most of his career at Harvard, where, at the age of 28, he became the youngest full professor in its history, until No
More about Alan M. Dershowitz...

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“The challenge of the Nuremberg tribunal, therefore, was to do real justice in the context of a trial by the victors against the vanquished—and specifically those leaders of the vanquished who had been instrumental in the most barbaric genocide and mass slaughter of civilians in history. Moreover,” 0 likes
“Reading the fascinating transcript of the trial has the effect of demythologizing both the heroes and the villains. For example, Justice Robert Jackson, the American chief prosecutor and hero of Nuremberg, is shown as a bungling cross-examiner who loses virtually every verbal battle with Göring. Jackson was unprepared and sloppy, while Göring was ready for every question with a precise Germanic recollection. At” 0 likes
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