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Publisher's Summary

We like to believe that the founding principle of the United States is liberty. “Give me liberty, or give me death!” Patrick Henry famously said in 1775 to encourage the Virginia colonists to fight for their freedom. It was liberty for which he was willing to sacrifice his life. So, you would think that when the United States of America was formed, our citizenry could finally enjoy a plethora of hard-won liberties. 

But that was not the case. While the new Americans no longer suffered from taxation without representation, many of the liberties we enjoy today were not part of their lives. In Liberty on Trial in America: Cases that Defined Freedom, you will learn how liberty increased in our country when individuals sued for those freedoms, when cases were brought specifically to test the limits of the Constitution with its Amendments, and even when a jury in a local case returned an unexpected verdict that helped change the thinking of the times. 

In 24 fascinating lectures, Professor Douglas O. Linder of the University of Missouri-Kansas City School of Law takes you behinds the scenes of the trials that brought many of the liberties we enjoy today. You’ll learn what happened when Anne Hutchinson dared to speak her religious ideas in the Massachusetts Bay Colony of the 1600s, when Susan B. Anthony decided to vote in a national election, when activists promoted radical ideas in the 1880s in Chicago, when Jehovah’s Witnesses decided their children should not be forced to salute the American flag in school, and more. 

PLEASE NOTE: When you purchase this title, the accompanying PDF will be available in your Audible Library along with the audio. 

©2020 The Great Courses (P)2020 The Teaching Company, LLC

What listeners say about Liberty on Trial in America

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The worst GC I've heard so far

This course will teach you that trials about civil liberties happened, their names, and their outcomes. That's kind of it. It's like a series of incredibly shallow historical vignettes (almost entirely clustered in the last 70 years) with some paltry bits of historical context. I've already noticed a few errors too. Like leaving the most important part of the Scopes trial out and saying the media thought the outcome was good because it was antievolution instead of because the fundamentalists won, but lost a massive PR battle.
The history isn't done particularly well, but the legal side is totally nonexistant. There is nothing about legal context, theories, or impact about the various trials. Just "They decided it this way and now this specific right is this way." It all just feels very anecdotal.
The performance is okay at least. The peofessor get biased at times, but not as bad as he could be. He's focused on the human interest side of things. In another course that might be great, but... I'm aware that slavery is evil. I'd like to hear an impartial account of the trials that impacted the debate over that fact. Not propogandistic moralizing and the clear implication in every case (even ones still considered ambiguous) that one side is the "good guys." It's an understandable annoyance when talking about slavery, Jim Crow, or Lenny Bruce. It's absolutely unprofessional when talking about cases like Yoder, Ellesburg, or Ruby Ridge (I actually agree with his takes on some of these, but that doesn't make his bias acceptable.)
Amazingly the Roe v Wade episode is... Maybe the best one. Where was this moderation and rigor during the rest of the course?
Summary: Shallow. If you want good history, GC has many better courses.
For the same style as this, but actually good, try Wondry's Legal Wars. It even covers a few of the same trials and waaay better than this does.

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Tremendous!!!

Perhaps the greatest of the Great Courses! Everyone could find something interesting and inspiring in these lectures. Terrific story telling ability, a wealth of knowledge and passion for the subject. May need to listen again because I had so much fun.

3 people found this helpful

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A Broad Journey Through American Trials

Narration was lively, and the book offered a broad journey through legal land from the perspective of court cases.

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Fascinating course

This course was very informative and well presented. The various cases were presented in narrative form and accessible for the legal layperson to follow and understand. Would definitely recommend.

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Excellent historical review

The book encourages further historical research. The instructor narrates each of the trials in an entertaining, meaningful and instructive way, I would love to hear a sequel,

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Really interesting

I thought this might be a boring listening, but it was not. It was very interesting and I learned a lot. It was also well presented.

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engaging

I knew nothing about law coming in so I learned a bunch. I am a big nerd though so I wish it had more emphasis on legal theory.

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Informative and Inciteful

The courses cover 24 lectures of which show you some cases you may be familiar with and some you never heard of. In a partially unbiased fashion in order to inform the reader.

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Profile Image for Deirdre E Siegel
  • Deirdre E Siegel
  • 08-21-21

Professor Linder is thought provoking, always a good thing :-)

After listening to this course I am of the opinion that the United States of America does not refer to a legal position, the Constitution’s ability to be used as a weapon by the legal system not for the greater good is appallingly interesting.
Great courses thanks, Douglas :-)