Free Speech by Timothy Garton Ash
Ten Principles for a Connected World

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Mr Garton Ash argues forcefully that despite, or perhaps because of, these trends there is an increasing need for freer speech, and that “unnoticed by many of us, a great power struggle over the shape, terms and limits of global freedom of expression is raging around us, inside that box in your pocket and perhaps even inside our heads.”
-The Economist

Synopsis

Never in human history was there such a chance for freedom of expression. If we have Internet access, any one of us can publish almost anything we like and potentially reach an audience of millions. Never was there a time when the evils of unlimited speech flowed so easily across frontiers: violent intimidation, gross violations of privacy, tidal waves of abuse. A pastor burns a Koran in Florida and UN officials die in Afghanistan.
 
Drawing on a lifetime of writing about dictatorships and dissidents, Timothy Garton Ash argues that in this connected world that he calls cosmopolis, the way to combine freedom and diversity is to have more but also better free speech. Across all cultural divides we must strive to agree on how we disagree. He draws on a thirteen-language global online project—freespeechdebate.com—conducted out of Oxford University and devoted to doing just that. With vivid examples, from his personal experience of China's Orwellian censorship apparatus to the controversy around Charlie Hebdo to a very English court case involving food writer Nigella Lawson, he proposes a framework for civilized conflict in a world where we are all becoming neighbors.
 

About Timothy Garton Ash

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TIMOTHY GARTON ASH is the author of seven previous books of political writing and the "history of the present," which have charted the transformation of Europe over the last quarter century. They include "The Polish Revolution," "The Uses of Adversity," "The Magic Lantern," "The File, "and" History of the Present." He is currently director of the European Studies Centre at St. Antony's College, Oxford, and a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University. His essays appear regularly in "The New York Review of Books" and he writes a column in the "Guardian" that is syndicated across Europe and the Americas.
 
Published May 24, 2016 by Yale University Press. 504 pages
Genres: Political & Social Sciences, Law & Philosophy. Non-fiction
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Critic reviews for Free Speech
All: 6 | Positive: 6 | Negative: 0

Kirkus

Good
on Mar 14 2016

A field guide to the challenges of setting standards for free speech in a "cosmopolis" of diverse cultures...A thorough and well-argued contribution to the quest for global free speech norms.

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NY Times

Good
Reviewed by Edmund Fawcett on May 22 2016

“Free Speech” encourages us to take a breath, look hard at the facts and see how well-tried liberal principles can be applied and defended in daunting new circumstances.

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Financial Times

Good
Reviewed by John Lloyd on Jun 03 2016

A writer who has fused the scholar’s profession with the journalist’s trade, he undergirds polymathic arguments for principled freedom with globe-trotting reportage from a decade of thinking about how societies can live in robustly (a favoured word) structured amity.

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The Economist

Above average
on May 21 2016

Mr Garton Ash argues forcefully that despite, or perhaps because of, these trends there is an increasing need for freer speech, and that “unnoticed by many of us, a great power struggle over the shape, terms and limits of global freedom of expression is raging around us, inside that box in your pocket and perhaps even inside our heads.”

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Guardian

Above average
Reviewed by Faramerz Dabhoiwala on Jun 22 2016

As he repeatedly underlines, he is trying to start a discussion, rather than to present the final word. But he also argues, persuasively, that the way forward towards “more and better free speech” must rely less on law and formal restrictions, except in cases of clear harm, and much more on mobilising the republic of norms.

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Guardian

Good
Reviewed by Nick Cohen on May 30 2016

If a belief mandates the execution of apostates such as Hirsi Ali, you respect neither belief nor believer. But this is a small complaint. Timothy Garton Ash has produced an urgent and encyclopedic work...

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