Book Description

From School Library Journal Grade 6?9?In this excellent example of nonfiction that is at once dramatic and informative, Margulies and Rosaler examine five highly emotional court cases, each of which served as a litmus test for the health of America's justice system at the time it occurred. The seminal cases are presented chronologically, starting with the Salem witch trials and ending with the recent trials of Zacarias Moussaoui. In between are the Haymarket bomb trial, which hanged four anarchists based on flimsy evidence and a climate of panic, the Scopes 'Monkey' trial, which raised questions about the teaching of evolution in schools, and the trials of Alger Hiss, which started the post-World War II hunt for Communist spies. Each chapter gives historical context of the court proceeding, describes its progression in some detail, and comments on the political and intellectual aftermath. The language is straightforward, with enough descriptive details to make it colorful and engaging reading. Illustrations, including photographs, arrest warrants, and other primary-source materials, break up the text nicely: almost every spread contains a relevant image and caption. During each case, fear and prejudice came up against justice and the limits of the law. In some instances, justice prevailed; in others it did not. The questions raised are worth pondering, and readers are challenged to consider what it means to be impartial and fair in the most charged and complex situations. A highly relevant and riveting book, this is an fine addition to any collection.?Emma Burkhart, formerly at the Windsor School, Boston, MA Copyright ? Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. Read more From Booklist *Starred Review* In this well-researched and affecting?offering, Margulies and Rosaler?tie some of the most important?trials in American history to the country?s frequent need to find a ?devil:?not just?a threat to the community, but an incarnation of evil.??Five cases are?examined in depth: the Salem witch trials, in which the threat was literally the devil; the Haymarket bomb trial, which put?anarchists in the devil?s suit; the Scopes ?monkey trial,? in which evolution locked horns with religion; the Alger Hiss case, which pitted?Communism and?democracy; and the trials of Zacarias Moussaoui,?the face of evil for a new century. With an oversize format, a crisp typeface, and an illustration-filled design, this is an appealing-looking read. However,?it is not?light reading;?the depth in which the authors?examine these trials is both complete and sobering, especially when set against whatever public sentiment was raging at the time. Putting these trials into a historical context is something they do particularly well. Readers will learn as much about why religion and science were butting heads in the 1920s as they will about?the Scopes trial (which was originally a test case encouraged by the ACLU). Impeccably sourced, with an extensive bibliography, this examination does sometimes drop a few threads (what did happen to Salem?s Tituba?) and sometimes stretches the devil connection. Yet young people who spend time with this?intriguing title will find themselves more deeply and thoughtfully informed about the U.S. and its legal system. Grades 8-12. --Ilene Cooper Read more See all Editorial Reviews