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Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite
American Justice on Trial: People v. Newton by Lise Pearlman presents the trial of Huey Newton in a cleverly constructed style, filling readers in on the drama, the jury selection, and the outcome of the trial. Besides focusing on the Newton trial, the author makes comparative studies with other cases, taking readers through a wide selection of case histories and uncovering the discrepancies in the justice system while underlining the glaring racial divide that has become part of the challenging social issues in American history. The author offers powerful insights into the birth of the Black Panther Party and answers the question: How relevant is the trial that put a black revolutionary on trial for his life in 1968 to the contemporary justice system in America?
The first thing that caught my attention when I started reading this book is the author’s voice — it is clear, powerful, and confident. And the reason is very simple: Lise Pearlman did her research well and she knows what she is talking about. The book features very compelling characters associated with the trial, including the prosecutor Lowell Jensen, TV journalist Belva Davis, the first black foreman David Harper, the defendant’s older brother, Melvin Newton, members of the Black Panther Party and a lot more. The writing is very professional and accessible. American Justice on Trial: People v. Newton demonstrates how a controversial and internationally watched case transformed the jury selection process, and highlights the racial tensions that have rocked American society over the years. It is a compelling read, laced with case histories and ample information on race relations that raise critical questions on the justice system in the US. It’s revolutionary!