Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Rise and Fall of an American Icon” as Want to Read:
The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Rise and Fall of an American Icon
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Rise and Fall of an American Icon

3.7 of 5 stars 3.70  ·  rating details  ·  163 ratings  ·  22 reviews
About the Author

Ronald K.L.

Collins graduated from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and was a judicial fellow in the United States Supreme Court. He is currently the First Amendment scholar-in-residence at the First Amendment Center in Arlington, Virginia. He has written numerous scholarly articles in the Harvard, Stanford and Michigan Law Reviews, and more than 150 newspap
Hardcover, 544 pages
Published February 1st 2003 by Sourcebooks, Inc (first published 2002)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about The Trials of Lenny Bruce, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about The Trials of Lenny Bruce

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 376)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Donna Davis
I cannot remember the last time I felt so strongly about a book I had bought. I have never, ever felt this strongly about a CD! I found, by a rare bit of luck, this hardcover book in brand new condition, in a used book store. The CD inside the cover was still sealed. It is not just an actor on the CD; it is actual footage of Bruce's voice performing (along with narration by someone else). It cost me all of five bucks. Unbelievable!

If you are a champion of free speech, you have to know that this
This book was a bit disturbing as far as how we treat and define obscenity in this country. to me, obscenity is generally a waste of time, sort of like jaywalking tickets. who gives a fuck? there are bigger things with which to deal. i don't know if lenny bruce is funny, but the authors of this book seem to think so (and so did a lot his contemporaries). the one thing i hate about biographies is how doting they seem to be.
.....a different approach to the "dangerous Jew", it is "comedy on trial", the five years during which Prosecutors sought to bust Father Bruce for "word crimes". Meticulously documents both litigants, and the literary scene of the 1960s, as taboos were broken in the struggle for Free Speech...there's a CD included with the book, of Lenny's own words.

Do you swing with the First Amendment?

5 Stars
The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution explicitly safeguards freedom of speech. That isn't just freedom to say what you like as long as it doesn't upset anyone - it means the right to say what you think, period. There is no qualifier.

This fact did not stop various police officers, District Attorneys, lawyers, and sundry other self-appointed guardians of public decency from trying to stop Lenny Bruce from exercising his First Amendment rights throughout the late 1950s to mid-1960s. Ostensib
Great book about a man whose unconventional stand-up act tested the edges of what freedom of speech really means.
Dig, I read this book about Lenny Bruce, The Trials of Lenny Bruce: The Fall and Rise of an American Icon by Ronald K.L. Collins & David M. Skover.

Collins and Skover, both lawyers, do not provide a traditional biography of the infamous “sick comic,” but rather a legal lineage of his battles against misdemeanor obscenity charges brought forth as a result of his stand-up acts. The book also includes an audio CD of actual Bruce performances for which he was arrested. The supplementary interview
Chuck O'Connor
I came to an appreciation of Lenny Bruce, as I suppose most people might, during my youth, when the weight of growing up was mistaken as persecution, and Lenny could be patron saint to my perpetual sense of unique misunderstanding. Therefore, my knowledge of the man can only be seen with the patina of reverence for the rule-breaking liberality he symbolized. That is, until this book. The presentation of who Lenny Bruce was through the analysis of the many "People vs. Bruce" obscenity trials, wit ...more
I liked learning about Lenny Bruce and his impact on a wide range of people from Margaret Cho to Hugh Hefner.

Where I agree with Skover and Collins is in their view of the fragile balance our society has with the first amendment and how easily that social agreement can be skewed one way or the other if we as a society do not remain vigilant and open to discourse on language and what constitutes obscenity or social commentary.

I also like the inclusion of the linguistic origins of profanity; in wh
Dave Peticolas

A legal history of Lenny Bruce's obscenity trials. This book is far more gripping than the subject matter might indicate. The authors document the series of misdemeanor obscenity trials which Lenny Bruce had to endure and which, arguably, contributed to his untimely death.

Bruce emerges from the book as a complex iconoclast hounded mercilessly by the authorities for daring to break cultural and religious taboos. Recommended.

A CD included with the book contains recordings of Bruce's bits, intervie

Matt Champagne
Kind of tedious, though passionate enough that I enjoyed it. And--let's say it--a lot of Bruce's stuff now just isn't funny. Compelling. But not funny.
Jake Basner
Interesting as a case for our country's 1st amendment rights, Lenny Bruce never struck me as funny.
I'd seen this title remaindered and never bought it because the book looked like a long list of court dates. I eventually picked it up last year for 50 cents, and I'm glad I did. Very well-written and insightful, tons of things I never new about Lenny, all laid out in a very clear narrative that doesn't overwhelm when it comes to legal mumbo jumbo. Totally fascinating book that shows how much Bruce was his own worst enemy. Being his lawyer would have truly sucked. Comes with a CD as well, variou ...more
Mike Barnett
I've read a lot about Lenny Bruce, but this was the first book that covered it from the point of a legal analysis of his cases. Great book!
We, the American people, owe much to Lenny Bruce. He tested the limits of free speech and he won (eventually). Without him, our comedy would be much more lame and PG. It's amazing to me that he could get arrested for making jokes about religion and using mild profanity. Hooray for Lenny Bruce! Also, the accompanying cds are great. Some of the jokes aren't funny, but some are absolutely hilarious. I still remember a particular one about the Pope, Jesus, and Satan. Good stuff.
Patrick Challis
Lenny Bruce is a man surrounded by myth, legend and a hell of a lot of hearsay but how much of it is true?

Here the authors create a fantastic look at one of the most infamous yet legendary stand up comedians of all time in the shape of Lenny Bruce.

Without Bruce there would be no George Carlin, no Bill Hicks and more so click to see the full review and see why.

Nancy Hite
Lot's of great information about a character that enjoyed pushing the line of acceptance in a world so blinded by their prejudice
Jan 04, 2010 Polstar marked it as to-read
I bought this for my husband - it's virtually brand new with the disc inside. I can't wait to read it but it's hardback which means I don't like to lug it about with me!
Mike Lieberman
crazy how the man revolutionized the comedy game and how he was persecuted for using simple words. a bit too long for my liking. would've rated higher if it were shorter.
Its a bit dry in places, a lot of places but for anyone interested in Lenny and his effect on 1st amendment rights its a must
I had to read this for a psych class. Interesting topic, horrible organization & writing.
Ryan Newman
The author was a rambling mess.
What a mess.
Beardo Gomez
Beardo Gomez marked it as to-read
Nov 01, 2015
Robert marked it as to-read
Oct 22, 2015
Crystal marked it as to-read
Oct 16, 2015
Dylan marked it as to-read
Oct 12, 2015
Tracie Runnels
Tracie Runnels marked it as to-read
Oct 11, 2015
Paul marked it as to-read
Oct 10, 2015
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 12 13 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • The Essential Lenny Bruce
  • Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War and US Political Culture
  • American Scream
  • Vietnam: The Ten Thousand Day War
  • Ladies and Gentlemen, Lenny Bruce!!
  • Miami and the Siege of Chicago
  • Mr. Mike: The Life and Work of Michael O'Donoghue
  • The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House
  • The Phoenix Program: America's Use of Terror in Vietnam
  • The Vietnam Wars 1945-1990
  • Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media
  • The Age of McCarthyism: A Brief History with Documents
  • Street-Fighting Years: An Autobiography of the Sixties
  • Watergate: The Corruption of American Politics and the Fall of Richard Nixon
  • Kent State:  What Happened and Why
  • The Beach Beneath the Street: The Everyday Life and Glorious Times of the Situationist International
  • Brotherhood of the Bomb: The Tangled Lives and Loyalties of Robert Oppenheimer, Ernest Lawrence, and Edward Teller
  • Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies and the CIA in Central America

Share This Book