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 neighbours.
A major piece of cultural analysis, sane, witty and urgently important. Timothy Garton Ash exemplifies the "robust civility" he recommends as an antidote to the pervasive unhappiness, nervousness and incoherence around freedom of speech, rightly seeing the basic challenge as how we create a cultural and moral climate in which proper public argument is possible and human dignity affirmed. Rowan Williams, Master of Magdalene College, Cambridge, and former Archbishop of Canterbury
Timothy Garton Ash is the prize-winning author of nine previous books of political writing, including, most recently, Facts Are Subversive. He is Isaiah Berlin Professorial Fellow at St Antony's College, Oxford, Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution, Stanford University, and a regular contributor to the Guardian and the New York Review of Books. Awards he has received for his writing include the Orwell Prize.