Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Freedom of Speech: Documents Decoded

Academic journal article Reference & User Services Quarterly

Freedom of Speech: Documents Decoded

Article excerpt

Freedom of Speech: Documents Decoded. By David L. Hudson Jr. Documents Decoded. Santa Barbara, CA: ABC-CLIO, 2017. 207 p. $64.80 (ISBN 978-1-4408-4250-4). E-book available (978-1-4408-4251-1), call for pricing.

David L. Hudson's Freedom of Speech: Documents Decoded is another addition to the ABC-CLIO Documents Decoded series. Hudson, a prolific author of American legal issues, demonstrates his breadth of knowledge of the history of free speech in the United States in this volume. The Documents Decoded series volumes represent a new type of encyclopedia in which primary-source documents constitute the main texts. These primary-source documents are coupled with annotations by the authors that provide illuminating contextual information and situate the documents within broader events of the time. Hudson's Freedom of Speech follows this format and focuses largely on federal legal cases, but it also includes important speeches that either addressed freedom of speech or represented national tests to the limits of freedom of speech.

Hudson opens his volume with a concise introduction that frames the complexities of free speech in the United States and immediately provides the reader with a clear sense of the importance of the topic. Hudson concludes his introduction by noting that the volume "aims to strengthen public debate and provide a greater awareness and appreciation of First Amendment controversies and cases" (ix). Its stated aim sets Freedom of Speech apart from typical reference works, as it seeks a higher goal than simply providing the public with fact-based information. With Hudson's engaging introduction, his well-selected primary-source documents, and his annotations that provide expert interpretation, as well as rich and insightful details about historical context, Freedom of Speech undoubtedly provides readers with a much greater awareness and understanding of what freedom of speech means in the United States and how this idea has and continues to evolve. …

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