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the great conspiracy trial an essay on law liberty and the constitution by jason epstein

The Great Conspiracy Trial : An Essay on Law, Liberty and the Constitution by Jason Epstein


New York : Random House, 1970. First Edition ; First Printing. Hardcover. 433 pages ; 22 cm. $7.95 dust jacket with minimal wear. Bookplate on front free endpaper. Foxing to front and rear endpapers as well. Storage odor to pages. No markings within. Binding is firm.

The Great Conspiracy Trial
Jason Epstein

For Judge Julius Hoffman, the Chicago Conspiracy Trial was just "another trial on my criminal calendar." For former Attorney General Ramsey Clark, the trial signaled that "a crackdown" was coming; that a new era of political repression had begun in America. For the defendants, the trial meant that peaceful protest was no longer possible: hereafter, opposition must take the form of revolution. Observers of the trial were divided. Some felt that the defendants willfully disrupted a fundamentally legitimate prosecution. Others said that the law was unconstitutional; that the judge was unfair, and that the trial itself was politically motivated: therefore, the defendants were right to resist the authority of the court. When the trial was over, Judge Hoffman was honored by an invitation to breakfast at the White House. The defendants and their lawyers were invited to speak before large and enthusiastic audiences on hundreds of university campuses. Nearly everyone agreed that the trial marked a deep and unusual split within the country. Nearly everyone aligned himself with one side or the other.

THE GREAT CONSPIRACY TRIAL shows that this split is neither recent nor unusual; that it has always been implicit in American history; and that in times of great national stress, it reveals itself, often violently. In this book, the details of the trial—fascinating in themselves— are presented against the background of American political, cultural and legal history. The origins of conspiracy law are explained; the sources of American radicalism are examined; and the history of the perennial argument between the security of the state and the rights of individuals is considered as the essential background against which the trial itself must be understood.

JASON EPSTEIN is a Vice-President of Random House and a frequent contributor to THE NEW YORK REVIEW OF BOOKS. He lives in New York City with his wife, Barbara, and his children, Jacob and Helen.

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