First Amendment Freedoms: A Reference Handbook

ABC-CLIO. (Contemporary World Issues). Feb. 2021. 372p. ISBN 9781440869297. $63. REF
This look at the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment follows the structure of other titles in the series: an overview, problems and solutions, nine focused essays, over 50 profiles of institutions and individuals, data and primary source material, an annotated resources list, a chronology (1649–2018), a glossary, and an index. LeMay (political science emeritus, Cal State Univ., San Bernardino; Immigration Reform) covers religion, speech, press, and assembly and petition. Religion gets by far the most space, despite there having been much recent contentious political foregrounding of free speech issues. LeMay is authoritative, but his writing is sometimes repetitive and not always clear or effectively organized (e.g., the connection between the First and Fourteenth Amendments is mentioned early on in the book, but not explained until later). Explication of U.S. Supreme Court reasoning can be thin, especially for decisions that seem contradictory. However, the text effectively formulates the many questions raised by the amendment and offers a good starting point for research.
VERDICT Although readers might wish for more attentive editing and deeper analysis, the excellent scholarly essays and the information consolidated here will be valuable to students of U.S. history and the Constitution.
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