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The Conspiracy Trial of the Chicago Seven


With an Introduction by Carl Oglesby

In 1969, the Chicago Seven were charged with intent to "incite, organize, promote, and encourage" antiwar riots during the chaotic 1968 Democratic National Convention in Chicago. The defendants included major figures of the antiwar and racial justice movements: Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin, the madcap founders of the Yippies; Tom Hayden and Rennie Davis, founders of Students for a Democratic Society and longtime antiwar organizers; David Dellinger, a pacifist and chair of the National Mobilization Committee to End the War in Vietnam; and Bobby Seale, co-founder of the Black Panther Party, who would be bound and gagged in the courtroom before his case was severed from the rest.

The Conspiracy Trial of the Chicago Seven is an electrifying account of the months-long trial that commanded the attention of a divided nation. John Schultz, on assignment for The Evergreen Review, witnessed the whole trial of the Chicago Seven, from the jury selection to the aftermath of the verdict. In his vivid account, Schultz exposes the raw emotions, surreal testimony, and judicial prejudice that came to define one of the most significant legal events in American history.

In October 2020, Aaron Sorkin's film, The Trial of the Chicago Seven, will bring this iconic trial to the screen. 

Read an  excerpt.

416 pages | 5 1/2 x 8 1/2 | © 1993

Chicago and Illinois

History: American History

Law and Legal Studies: Legal History


"Schultz has written one of the few great trial books of our time. Taking the reader inside a uniquely American political show-trial, he demonstrates just how fragile our courts are, and how the massive power of the federal government can easily derail justice. . . . Any reader looking for a quick course in how a criminal trial can go wrong would do well to read The Chicago Conspiracy Trial."

Timothy Sullivan, author of Unequeal Verdicts

"A masterful recapitulation of these anomalous events. . . . All politically literate Americans should read [it]."

Kirkus Reviews

"If Schultz has offered us a drama that is a metaphor for this society itself, then his intensive concern with the jurors and their own special agony is its climax. His probe into their consciences--the play within the play--is a probe into the American conscience."

David Graber | Los Angeles Times

"A beautiful, compelling, tear-jerking, mind-boggling book."

William Burroughs

"This work, aside from being a profound study of fear, is investigative journalism in its highest sense."

Studs Terkel

Table of Contents


Part One: Motion Will Be Denied

Part Two: Seale

Part Three: A Demonstration Here, A Demonstration There

Part Four: The Struggle for the Laugh in the Courtroom

Part Five: The Struggle for the Spirit of the Courtroom: The Defense’s Case

Part Six: The Struggle for the Soul of the Nation

Part Seven: The Jury Hearing

Afterword: Constitutional Morality Play

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