Wry and fascinating ... Emotions and feelings come up a lot in Seek and Hide — something I wasn’t expecting from a book that does serious work as a history of ideas, too. Gajda, who was a journalist before becoming a law professor, is a nimble storyteller; even if some of her conclusions are bound to be contentious, she’s an insightful guide to a rich and textured history that gets easily caricatured, especially when a culture war is raging ... A number of people in Gajda’s book can seem like free speech absolutists in one context and zealous advocates for privacy rights in another ... Just because Gajda acknowledges the personal damage wrought by such decisions doesn’t mean that she comes down categorically on the side of Team Privacy; the issues are too complicated, the history too circuitous ... Gajda says that she used to be uncomfortable with the idea that courts could balance protections for an individual’s dignity and liberty with protections for a free press and free speech; as a journalist, she was worried that an overzealous judiciary might curtail the reporting of real news that powerful interests were keen to keep secret. Now she seems to see things differently, placing what seems to me a surprising amount of faith in the judicial branch and even Facebook’s Oversight Board ... This strikes me as the kind of wistful generalization that’s otherwise absent from this smart and empathetic book.
Amy Gajda links our present struggle to an underappreciated tradition in American law and thought ... Gajda traces the championing of privacy...back to the nation’s founding ... Gajda’s chronicle reveals an enduring tension between principles of free speech and respect for individuals’ private lives. But it also throws into sharp relief how much the context for that debate has changed in the past several decades ... There is another lesson to be drawn from Gajda’s history. From the earliest days of the republic, privacy law has best served the most privileged in American society: those with considerable clout and resources at their disposal.
[A] probing legal history ... Gajda gives full due to each side, showing how the right to be free from public scrutiny in intimate matters is as fundamental to liberty as press freedom, but can also shield the wrongdoing of the powerful. She also sets her analysis within a lively history of scandalmongering ... [A] nuanced and entertaining study.