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

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

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  165 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, 562 pages
Published September 1st 2002 by Sourcebooks MediaFusion (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 406)
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
Oct 23, 2008 Joey rated it liked it
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.
Mar 19, 2014 Judith rated it it was amazing
.....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
May 14, 2008 Yvette rated it really liked it
Great book about a man whose unconventional stand-up act tested the edges of what freedom of speech really means.
Aug 05, 2015 Phil rated it really liked it
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
Jan 08, 2009 James rated it really liked it
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
Sep 09, 2012 Chuck O'Connor rated it really liked it
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
Jun 13, 2013 Jtack79 rated it liked it
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
Oct 08, 2014 Dave Peticolas rated it liked it

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

Apr 05, 2010 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Jun 23, 2013 Patrick Challis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.

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
Oct 21, 2008 Mike Lieberman rated it liked it
Shelves: biographic
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.
Matt Champagne
Feb 12, 2014 Matt Champagne rated it liked it
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.
Mike Barnett
Jan 24, 2014 Mike Barnett rated it really liked it
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!
Nancy Hite
Feb 11, 2014 Nancy Hite rated it really liked it
Lot's of great information about a character that enjoyed pushing the line of acceptance in a world so blinded by their prejudice
Jan 29, 2011 1sttime0ffender rated it liked it
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
Jake Basner
Jun 01, 2014 Jake Basner rated it it was ok
Interesting as a case for our country's 1st amendment rights, Lenny Bruce never struck me as funny.
Jan 07, 2012 Kelly rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had to read this for a psych class. Interesting topic, horrible organization & writing.
Ryan Newman
Dec 26, 2012 Ryan Newman rated it it was ok
The author was a rambling mess.
Mar 18, 2011 Mr. rated it it was ok
Shelves: did-not-finish
What a mess.
Bogdan Liviu
Bogdan Liviu marked it as to-read
Apr 25, 2016
Kyle Davis
Kyle Davis marked it as to-read
Apr 24, 2016
Obi marked it as to-read
Apr 20, 2016
jeffrey marked it as to-read
Apr 18, 2016
Rob rated it really liked it
Apr 17, 2016
Lisar3064 marked it as to-read
Apr 17, 2016
Steve Thomas
Steve Thomas rated it it was amazing
Apr 17, 2016
Jared Evanoski
Jared Evanoski marked it as to-read
Apr 03, 2016
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 13 14 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Rethinking Camelot: JFK, the Vietnam War and US Political Culture
  • The Essential Lenny Bruce
  • American Scream
  • Miami and the Siege of Chicago
  • Vietnam: The Ten Thousand Day War
  • The Price of Power: Kissinger in the Nixon White House
  • The Vietnam Wars 1945-1990
  • Ladies and Gentlemen, Lenny Bruce!!
  • Cocaine Politics: Drugs, Armies and the CIA in Central America
  • Disgusting Bliss: The Brass Eye of Chris Morris
  • Street-Fighting Years: An Autobiography of the Sixties
  • The Phoenix Program: America's Use of Terror in Vietnam
  • Manufacturing Consent: Noam Chomsky and the Media
  • Watergate: The Corruption of American Politics and the Fall of Richard Nixon
  • America's Kingdom: Mythmaking on the Saudi Oil Frontier
  • The Holocaust in American Life
  • A History of the Indians of the United States
  • Kent State:  What Happened and Why

Share This Book