Vanderbilt Law Review

Article Title

Book Note

First Page



Written primarily for the layman, this book reads much like a historical novel, detailing the lives of the two men whose personalities came into such violent conflict in a troubled time. Two-thirds of the book sets the stage for the trial which occupies the final third of the volume. The trial portion of the book consists mainly of quotes from the arguments of counsel, illustrating the rhetorical effects achieved by the attorneys in arguing a case that loomed large in the public eye. The authors--a husband and wife team, neither of whom appears to have a legal background--have successfully edited the record of the trial proceedings to catch the mood of this period. Their book is easily read and provides a background knowledge of the times and persons involved in the libel suit by Dr. Benjamin Rush against William Cobbett. In a wider sense, it is a discussion of some of the elements that led to the development of reasonable freedom of the press as we know it today.