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NONFICTION

MAKE NO LAW: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment by Anthony Lewis (Random House: $25; 256 pp.). One of the classic works of legal journalism is “Gideon’s Trumpet,” in which New York Times reporter Anthony Lewis traced the making of the 1963 right-to-counsel decision of the Warren Court in Gideon v. Wainwright. Lewis’ fans will be disappointed with “Make No Law,” however, for it’s not nearly as powerful as the previous book; there is little human drama, and the cast of characters is less interesting. The Sullivan case itself is now almost ancient history; it was decided in 1964, the same year “Gideon’s Trumpet” was published. New York Times v. Sullivan, which involved a pro-civil-rights advertisement alleged to be libelous by a number of Alabama officials, did indeed mark a “sea change” in First Amendment law, but it has been regarded as such for so many years that Lewis has trouble bringing out the case’s revolutionary nature. “Make No Law” is nonetheless a useful guide to the inner workings of the U.S. Supreme Court, for Lewis writes, as usual, with exceptional clarity.


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