Alan Morton Dershowitz is an American lawyer known for his work in U.S. constitutional law and American criminal law. He taught at Harvard Law School, where he was appointed the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law. Dershowitz is a regular media contributor, political commentator, and legal analyst.
If a trifle long-winded, Dershowitz's ( Reversal of Fortune ) audacious, perspicacious, anecdotal, carefully documented book should increase his following among Jewish and non-Jewish readers alike. The gadfly civil libertarian here challenges his fellow Jews: ``The time has come for us to shed our self-imposed second-class status, drop our defensiveness, and rid ourselves of our pathological fear of offending our `hosts,' '' the U.S. Dershowitz discusses how he himself gradually became less ritually observant but more active in Jewish political issues. He excoriates left-wing anti-Zionism; linguist Noam Chomsky's defense of a neo-Nazi Holocaust-denier; what he sees as the spinelessness of certain American Jewish leaders; and Harvard's history of discrimination against Jews. The ``Jewishness'' of Jonathan Pollard, the U.S. intelligence analyst who was arrested in 1985 for espionage and given life imprisonment, and the fact that he spied for the Jewish state, the author maintains, are the most important factors explaining Pollard's ``draconian'' sentence. Author tour. (June)
Leo Rosten, in his The Joys of Yiddish ( LJ 10/1/68), defines chutzpah as ``gall, brazen nerve, effrontery, incredible `guts,' presumption plus arrogance such as no other word and no other language can do justice to.'' Dershowitz ( Reversal of Fortune , LJ 4/1/86 ) , perhaps the most famous lawyer in the United States today, argues here that U.S. Jewry should shed its second-class citizenship syndrome and show a little chutzpah in defining its relationship with gentile, Christian America. He pleads that U.S. Jews have nothing to be ashamed of, since they have made vital contributions to the nation and deserve the same rights and privileges as their gentile compatriots. His thesis ranges through a spectrum of fascinating essays about anti-Semitism on college campuses, the state of Israel, the Holocaust, Auschwitz, the Jewish religion, and church/state relations. Brilliant, provocative, controversial, and as ``chutzpadik'' as its author, this book should have a wide audience and is enthusiastically recommended for public library collections. Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/91.-- Robert A. Silver, Shaker Heights P.L., Ohio