Free Speech

Free Speech : A History from Socrates to Social Media

4.23 (143 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

"The best history of free speech ever written and the best defense of free speech ever made." --P.J. O'Rourke

Hailed as the "first freedom," free speech is the bedrock of democracy. But it is a challenging principle, subject to erosion in times of upheaval. Today, in democracies and authoritarian states around the world, it is on the retreat.

In Free Speech, Jacob Mchangama traces the riveting legal, political, and cultural history of this idea. Through captivating stories of free speech's many defenders--from the ancient Athenian orator Demosthenes and the ninth-century freethinker al-Rāzī, to the anti-lynching crusader Ida B. Wells and modern-day digital activists--Mchangama reveals how the free exchange of ideas underlies all intellectual achievement and has enabled the advancement of both freedom and equality worldwide. Yet the desire to restrict speech, too, is a constant, and he explores how even its champions can be led down this path when the rise of new and contrarian voices challenge power and privilege of all stripes.

Meticulously researched and deeply humane, Free Speech demonstrates how much we have gained from this principle--and how much we stand to lose without it.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 528 pages
  • 141 x 261 x 41mm | 753g
  • United States
  • English
  • 1541600495
  • 9781541600492
  • 340,736

Review quote

"A work with no real counterpart, at once vividly told, masterfully researched, and exceptionally executed page after page as the history of free speech breaches the barriers of time to come alive with verve and profundity. Given its breadth and depth, Mchangama's work may well prove to be one of the most important books on free speech published in our lifetimes -- an extraordinary achievement!"--First Amendment News
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About Jacob Mchangama

Jacob Mchangama is the founder and executive director of the Danish think tank Justitia and the host of the podcast Clear and Present Danger: A History of Free Speech. His writing on free speech has appeared in the Economist, the Washington Post, Foreign Policy, and other outlets. He lives in Copenhagen, Denmark.
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Rating details

143 ratings
4.23 out of 5 stars
5 47% (67)
4 34% (48)
3 16% (23)
2 3% (4)
1 1% (1)
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