In Getting Screwed: Sex Workers and the Law, Alison Bass weaves the true stories of sex workers with the latest research on prostitution into a gripping journalistic account of how women (and some men) navigate a culture that routinely accepts the implicit exchange of sex for money, status, or even a good meal, but imposes heavy penalties on those who make such bargains explicit.

Along the way, Bass examines why an increasing number of middle-class white women choose to become sex workers and explores how prostitution has become a thriving industry in the twenty-first-century global economy. Situating her book in American history more broadly, she also discusses the impact of the sexual revolution, the rise of the Nevada brothels, and the growing war on sex trafficking after 9/11.

In our Ideas Matter segment we take time just about every week to check in with the state humanities councils in our 7-state region.

Today we’ll learn about the Islamic State's rampant destruction of priceless antiquities and how we can support the efforts to stop these priceless pieces of heritage from being destroyed. We are joined Erin Thompon, Assistant Professor of Art Crime at John Jay College, City University of New York; one of the New York Council for the Humanities new Public Scholars; and America’s only full-time professor of art crime.

  Most people think of love and contracts as strange bedfellows, or even opposites. In Love’s Promises, however, law professor Martha Ertman shows that far from cold and calculating, contracts shape and sustain families.

Blending memoir and law, Ertman delves into the legal cases, anecdotes, and history of family law to show that love comes in different packages, each shaped by different contracts and mini-contracts she calls “deals.”

  The legalization of marijuana is the next great reversal of history. Perhaps the most demonized substance in America, scientifically known as Cannabis sativa, simply a very fast growing herb, thrived underground as the nation's most popular illegal drug.

Now the tide has shifted: In 1996 California passed the nation's first medical marijuana law, which allowed patients to grow it and use it with a doctor's permission. By 2010, twenty states and the District of Columbia had adopted medical pot laws. In 2012 Colorado and Washington state passed ballot measures legalizing marijuana for adults age 21 and older.

Bruce Barcott, a former Guggenheim Fellow in nonfiction, is a frequent contributor to the New York Times, Rolling Stone, National Geographic, the Atlantic Monthly, Outside magazine, and many other publications. His book is Weed the People: The Future of Legal Marijuana in America.


  From Kennebunkport to Kauai, from the Rio Grande to the Northern Rockies, ours is a vast republic. While we may be united under one Constitution, separate and distinct states remain, each with its own constitution and culture. Geographic idiosyncrasies add more than just local character. Regional understandings of law and justice have shaped and reshaped our nation throughout history.

In The Law of the Land, renowned legal scholar Akhil Reed Amar illustrates how geography, federalism, and regionalism have influenced some of the biggest questions in American constitutional law.

  In Mea Culpa: Lessons on Law and Regret from U.S. History, Steven W. Bender examines how the United States’ collective shame about its past has shaped the evolution of law and behavior.

We regret slavery and segregationist Jim Crow laws. We eventually apologize, while ignoring other oppressions, and our legal response to regret often fails to be transformative for the affected groups.

  Attorney Philip K. Howard is a leading voice for legal reform in the U.S. In 2002, he formed the nonpartisan group Common Good to advocate for an overhaul of American law and government.

Among Common Good's suggestions: specialized health care courts, which would give lower but smarter awards, and a project with the NYC Board of Education and the teachers union to change the disciplinary system in New York public schools.

His new book is The Rule of Nobody: Saving America from Dead Laws and Broken Government.

    Divorce, custody, adoption, reproductive technology, marriage equality, and domestic violence: these are issues that touch all of our personal lives in some way or another and make news headlines every single day.

In her new book, Keeping It Civil: The Case of the Pre-Nup and The Porsche & Other True Accounts from the Files of a Family Lawyer, Margaret Klaw gives us insights into these hot-button issues in a whole new way.

  Legal biographies embrace the noble, the solemn, and the heroic. The authors who write them walk a fine line between a dramatic and engrossing tale and the reach for literary glory. Examples include legal titans Louis Brandeis, Edward Benett Williams, and Sonia Sotomayor. But, for every Clarence Darrow wanna-be that ever galvanized a jury, there toils the counselor whose contribution to the legal arts is just as brilliant – but goes unnoticed - and whose dedicated career and personal story is the reality show of the everyday courtroom.

Veteran New York Attorney Robert Layton has brought one of these stories to light in his new book, Going on My Own: 21st Century Legal Tales: A Memoir of Life as an International Lawyer.

The segment begins with Layton explaining how the book came about.


  Since 1971, when the Pentagon Papers were leaked to the New York Times and furious debate over First Amendment rights ensued, free-speech cases have emerged in rapid succession.

Floyd Abrams has been on the front lines of nearly every one of these major cases, which is also to say that, more than any other person, he has forged this country’s legal understanding of free speech.