[Nat Hentoff's The First Freedom: The Tumultuous History of Free Speech in America] is the first truly popular history of the First Amendment, making it accessible to senior high students and non-scholarly minded adults…. [Hentoff provides] the background for understanding why the framers of the Constitution's Bill of Rights felt that it was necessary to spell out the restrictions the Constitution was placing on government. This background information is followed by discussion of numerous events in American history where the First Amendment was at issue. Sometimes free speech carried the day; sometimes it lost. The complexities are here, but there is no question where Hentoff stands—he is a free speech purist. He is also eloquent in defense of his view and this very fine book deserves a wide reading by both young adults and all Americans, particularly those who can't tell the pollsters what the First Amendment is or means.
Dorothy M. Broderick, in her review of "The First Freedom: The Tumultuous History of Free Speech in America," in Voice of Youth Advocates (copyrighted 1980 by Voice of Youth Advocates), Vol. 3, No. 3, August, 1980, p. 40.