Press Release: Ferguson, The Trial in American Life
As the recent furor over the publication of O.J. Simpson’s "confession" demonstrates, the impact of a high-profile trial doesn’t end with the delivery of the verdict—the emotional, cultural, and political effects can resonate for decades. With The Trial in American Life, distinguished legal scholar Robert Ferguson explores the role of the high-profile trial from America’s earliest days to the present, arguing that far from being mere spectacles, such trials provide an essential forum for discussion of contentious issues.
In a bravura performance that ranges from Aaron Burr to O.J. Simpson, Ferguson traces both the legal implications and the cultural ripples of prominent trials. He brings together courtroom transcripts with newspaper and literary accounts of high-profile trials—including those of John Brown, Lincoln assassination conspirator Mary Surratt, the Haymarket defendants, and Julius and Ethel Rosenberg—to show what happens when courtrooms are forced to cope with unresolved communal anxieties and make legal decisions that change the American public’s very idea of itself.
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