Published to coincide with the ACLU's centennial, a major new book by the nationally celebrated journalist and bestselling author
For a century, the American Civil Liberties Union has fought to keep Americans in touch with the founding values of the Constitution. As its centennial approached, the organization invited Ellis Cose to become its first ever writer-in-residence, with complete editorial independence.
The result is Cose's groundbreaking Democracy, If We Can Keep It: The ACLU's 100-Year Fight for Rights in America, the most authoritative account ever of America's premier defender of civil liberties. A vivid work of history and journalism, Democracy, If We Can Keep It is not just the definitive story of the ACLU but also an essential account of America's rediscovery of rights it had granted but long denied. Cose's narrative begins with World War I and brings us to today, chronicling the ACLU's role through the horrors of 9/11, the saga of Edward Snowden, and the phenomenon of Donald Trump.
A chronicle of America's most difficult ethical quandaries from the Red Scare, the Scottsboro Boys' trials, Japanese American internment, McCarthyism, and Vietnam, Democracy, If We Can Keep It weaves these accounts into a deeper story of American freedom--one that is profoundly relevant to our present moment.
"More than a history of the ACLU, Ellis Cose has written a concise history of the United States in the twentieth century as seen through the prism of the fundamental rights that it claims, and so often fails, to uphold." --Carroll Bogert, president, the Marshall Project
"Ellis Cose tells the story of the women and men who fought back when political speech became an imprisonable offense, when state and local authorities enabled violent mobs, and when courts ruled against peaceful protests and strikes--offering hard-boiled hope that we can transcend today's tyranny too." --Elizabeth Green, co-founder and CEO, Chalkbeat
"Ellis Cose's elegant, masterly history of the ACLU is also a report on our country's chronic autoimmune disorder, in which the system risks its own health in the act of 'saving' itself. One comes away from this unflinching account with the urgent sense that there are no simple diagnoses or cures, that democracy is an organism in a constant cycle of decay and repair--and that survival is not inevitable." --Diane McWhorter, Pulitzer Prize-winning author, Carry Me Home