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In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action
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In Our Defense: The Bill of Rights in Action

3.94  ·  Rating Details ·  359 Ratings  ·  30 Reviews
Clearly and eloquently, Ellen Alderman and Caroline Kennedy not only examine the historical and legal significance of each amendment, but also present several of the human stories that have given shape to these basic rights. Traveling throughout the country, the authors interviewed people whose lives have been deeply affected by issues as diverse and timely as the death pe ...more
Hardcover, 430 pages
Published December 31st 1991 by William Morrow & Company (first published January 1st 1991)
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(showing 1-30)
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Rian Nejar
Oct 15, 2015 Rian Nejar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary
Lucidly written, and well researched, 'In Our Defense' clarifies and humanizes the Bill of Rights for the layman and the civics researcher alike. With interesting and engaging judicial proceedings, delving into protections afforded by this addition to the US Constitution, Alderman and Kennedy paint a vivid picture of a complex, and at times thorny, social fabric woven by deeply contemplated ideas of the founding fathers written into law. A sense that some of these ideas, especially the second, o ...more
Mar 27, 2008 Kim rated it really liked it
Stuff we should all know well, explained well.
Gary Ray
Mar 22, 2012 Gary Ray rated it liked it
I think when this came out, I probably would have rated it 4 stars. As it stands now, it needs an update. Much of the case law is dated, particularly the section on the 2nd amendment.

It would be 4 stars now, even dated, had the foot/endnotes been better structured. There is no link in the text to the notes, so you have to search the endnotes for each chapter in the appendix in order to find relevant material.

That said, like their book The Right to Privacy this is an entertaining and enlightening
Sep 03, 2013 Phillip rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I had this book on the shelf, and I pulled it out to read since I was teaching a Constitutional Law class. It was a bit dated, but it was generally an interesting read. For instance, the Second Amendment chapter is no longer good law after D.C. v. Heller. But it was an attempt to breath life into the amendments by showcasing real people and groups that were affected by each amendment in the Bill of Rights. I'm sure there are better books out there, especially ones that are a bit more contemporar ...more
Clarissa Sanders
This was a summer assignment I really enjoyed. It helped me really understand what our judiciary branch does, and how it works. It showed me that not all the Bill of Rights mean what I thought they did. The right to bear arms case actually frustrated me!
May 29, 2013 Andrew rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: law, author-female
Compelling, informative, easy-to-read discussion of the Bill of Rights, using, in most cases, one major court decision for each part of the amendments. Great introductory work on the first 10 amendments, as well as the role of the Supreme Court in American law.
John Lagoutaris
Jul 15, 2015 John Lagoutaris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very insightful and engaging. I am usually somewhat opposed to reading school assigned books, but this one turned to be a breath of fresh, and, as an extension of the fifth amendment, constitutionally protected air.
Barbara Storey
Interesting, a little dry in places. Some of the legal language was a bit too florid to be easily understood, but the case histories used to illustrate the different amendments were interesting. A good read, just not as great as I had hoped, I guess.
Nov 22, 2008 Catherine rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best books I have read. A beautiful illustration of the bill of rights can impact the ordinary person - and why the protections it provides are so important. This book is a quick and compelling read - for all persons - not just lawyers!
Oct 21, 2008 Jackie rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I tell you what, if you want a better understanding of our Bill of Rights take the time to read this. I loved how instead of just explaining the Rights they took real life case and applied them. Everyone should read this.
Some of those cases are still good law, but others are out of date. That doesn't make the book pointless, but it does make the experience of reading it frustrating. Most of my negative feelings come from the fact that there is an assignment I have to do with the cases.
Daniel Belay
Dec 22, 2013 Daniel Belay rated it really liked it
"In Our Defense" uses landmark cases, historical settings, and personal stories to illustrate both the scope and limitations of the Bill of Rights. Most importantly it explains, simply, how the two-hundred-year-old Bill of Rights continues to be relevant in a modern context.
Sep 16, 2011 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Book Groups
Shelves: book-group
This book made for a very interesting discussion although we never made it past the 1st. Amendment.
Carolyn Browne
Jan 22, 2016 Carolyn Browne rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
In Our Defense is a key part of my high school Political Science curriculum. It brings the Bill of Rights into the 21st Century and captivates the students.
Apr 05, 2011 Lily rated it really liked it
Very insightful at the time I read it. Forcefully illustrates how some not very pretty cases have helped define our fundamental rights. Caroline Kennedy is a co-author.
Elysse AKA EILIS Heller
Apr 27, 2009 Judy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a brilliant book. By Caroline Kennedy. Goodreads has her name spelled incorrectly.
Aug 09, 2010 Ashley rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: for-school
This book was not my favorite because I had to force myself to read it, which I don't normally have to do with books. Also, it just went on and on, and didn't thrill me at all
Aug 20, 2008 Carol added it
What you don't know will astound you.
Mar 08, 2013 Chelsea rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Yeah, it's a keeper.
Oct 18, 2014 Devlin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: politics
Very interesting.
Needs to be updated but you still get the overall point of the book.
Oct 02, 2014 Chris rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I learned a lot, mostly about the background of why we needed these amendments in the first place. A newer edition with more recent cases would be a great addition.
Sep 06, 2011 Kate rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
The authors tend to focus on arguments stemming from emotion instead of law. Blah.
Jan 15, 2009 Monique rated it it was amazing
Great book. Goes through the Bill of Rights and has actual cases which challeged some of our rights and the interpretations through the eyes of the courts. This is one of my favorites.
Phynix Bryne
The cases were interesting. rated it it was amazing
Aug 14, 2012
Peggy Johnson
Peggy Johnson rated it it was amazing
Dec 03, 2009
Debra Hill
Debra Hill rated it it was amazing
Aug 21, 2011
James Lago
James Lago rated it it was amazing
Jan 18, 2013
Rebecca rated it it was amazing
Dec 06, 2008
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