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Clarence Thomas: A Biography Paperback – November 1, 2002


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 672 pages
  • Publisher: Encounter Books (November 1, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1893554597
  • ISBN-13: 978-1893554597
  • Product Dimensions: 6.8 x 1.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,019,151 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Thomas (no relation to his subject), a sympathetic conservative author (Crime and the Sacking of America), delivers a biography curiously at odds with itself. The first two chapters, covering several centuries of local and family history, follow Clarence Thomas's self-mythologizing strategy whereby he portrayed himself as a black Horatio Alger from the segregated South when he was undergoing scrutiny as a Supreme Court nominee. Though lacking rich detail, the account of the justice's early life is engaging. Justice Thomas's grandfather's grinding work-ethic response to racism sowed the seeds of deeply enduring conflicts that neither Thomas nor this biographer appear to have examined. At Yale Law School (one of several affirmative action boons Thomas both exploited and resented, as this volume affirms), he eschewed theoretical studies for commercial law. After clerking at a civil rights law firm, he unsuccessfully sought work elsewhere before becoming a diversity hire of Missouri Attorney General John Danforth. Reagan's need for black conservatives to reverse the civil rights agenda gained Thomas two successive plum assignments the last as head of the EEOC before Bush appointed him first to the D.C. Court of Appeals, then to the Supreme Court. His special, fast-track treatment and apparent lack of preparation for this post are made painfully evident here. The author acknowledges the justice's evident periodic dishonesty and deep self-pity, citing the "dark side" of Thomas's political abilities as "a disingenuousness that sometimes seeped into dishonesty." Anita Hill and every liberal in sight are dutifully trashed, and major substantive criticisms of Thomas are ignored. Though the author (a graduate of Harvard Law School who has written for the Weekly Standard and the National Review) offers exaggerated outbursts of praise (for a man who "[put] his head down and charg[ed] through life as an independent moral agent... a free man"), he portrays a spoiled, bitter, insincere man. Photos not seen by PW. (For another take on Thomas, see Silent Justice, by John Greenya, reviewed on p.82)

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist

The tenth anniversary of Clarence Thomas' appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court has already produced one biography: John Greenya's Silent Justice: The Clarence Thomas Story [BKL S 1 01]. Like Greenya, Thomas was unable to convince his subject to agree to one or more interviews. Instead, he relies on archival research into Justice Thomas' early life and education and the progressively more demanding government positions he served in after law school, along with interviews with relatives, friends, coworkers, former law clerks, and fellow conservatives. Recommend this biography to readers who consider Justice Thomas a hero (or, like President Bush, one of the best current members of the Court). Author Thomas dishes dirt about Anita Hill (one charge seems to be a poor work ethic) to establish a context for her role in the Senate hearings considering Thomas' appointment. Because of the controversy surrounding his nomination, it may take a generation before we see a truly objective biography of Clarence Thomas. Mary Carroll
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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See all 10 customer reviews
This book is great and, amazingly, a quick read, not to mention well researched and very unbiased.
Jared J. Nelson
This is even more true if the subject is the human lightning rod of Clarence Thomas, quite possibly the most polarizing figure out there.
Dash Manchette
Since the beginning of the book I have been awestruck at Thomas's courage, fortitude, and intelligence.
Kevin

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Dash Manchette VINE VOICE on April 24, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Finding a good biography is hard to begin with. This is even more true if the subject is the human lightning rod of Clarence Thomas, quite possibly the most polarizing figure out there. Indeed, Thomas Sowell once wrote something to the effect that one can tell a white liberal's level of commitment to his beliefs by how much he despises the man. I am therefore happy to say that CLARENCE THOMAS: A BIOGRAPHY is a true joy to read.

A major reason for this book being so good is because the author Andrew Peyton Thomas (no relation to the Justice) is so balanced. Other writers would either disparage Justice Thomas or act as little more than a literary cheerleader for the man based on ideological disposition. While the author A.P. Thomas obviously is an admirer of Justice Thomas, he nonetheless portrays the Justice warts and all. In fact, one of my friends, a white liberal who cannot discuss anything related to race without wallowing in white guilt and who simply cannot grasp the fact that blacks are responsible for their own lives, upon hearing that I was reading this book, asked me, his voice dripping with condescension and even hostility, whether the author goes over Justice Thomas having benefitted from affirmative action only to try to end such policies now. I was able to respond that, yes, indeed the author does cover this. In fact, quite extensively, while placing Justice Thomas' change of direction in the proper context and discussing the man's turmoil that others would focus on him rather than on the issues themselves (if my friend caught the irony, he did not let on).

CLARENCE THOMAS covers the Justices' early life extensively. I was initially hesitant that so many pages were devoted to what I considered to be basically an introduction. I was wrong.
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26 of 32 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 27, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is a remarkable book. The author has achieved what Samuel Johnson said was the ultimate end of a good biography--exploring the faults of a subject to gain credibility for praise of his virtues. The author shows Clarence Thomas as a flawed and human man, anxious for advancements, prickly in his pride. He also shows the Justice as an unbelievably strong and moral person, someone whose hard-won achievements are real--and really honorable. The author has new information on Anita Hill and on each stop that Clarence Thomas has made on his long journey to the Highest Court. He has also recreated the long piece of history--from slavery, through Jim Crow, through the Second Revolution of the Civil Rights Movement--that produced this charismatic figure. This is biography and history at its best.
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14 of 19 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 21, 2002
Format: Hardcover
This biography of Justice Thomas is outstanding. It encompasses time from pre-civil war slavery to the decision of Bush v. Gore. Although the author's treatment of Justice Thomas is evenhanded, it would be difficult to complete this work without having a greater appreciation for Justice Thomas' independence and intelligence.
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17 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Jared J. Nelson on June 3, 2002
Format: Hardcover
At first I was worried that I would not be able to get through Thomas' early life to get to his Supreme Court years, by about 75 pages in, I wondered how the Supreme Court years could be as good as the first part of the book was turning out to be. This book is great and, amazingly, a quick read, not to mention well researched and very unbiased. The author takes Thomas to task for his occational self-indulgence, and yet paints a picture of Thomas that leaves me hoping I just read a biography of the next Chief Justice.
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24 of 35 people found the following review helpful By Kevin on January 9, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I live in San Francisco, home to many angry female liberals whose "I Believe You Anita" bumper stickers are just beginning to peel and fade. When the now-famous Anita Hill hearings took place I was only 11 years old. I naturally have no recollection of them, nor could I comprehend at the time their dangerous implications for the future of one brilliant man and the future of the American judicial system. Coming across this book at a local bookstore, I decided to give it a chance and learn about an important piece of American history and biography...I am so glad I did.
Since the beginning of the book I have been awestruck at Thomas's courage, fortitude, and intelligence. This biography masterfully retells his life story in such a way which is both captivating and awe-inspiring. In addition, this book proves again how vicious the political Left can be when their own preach for "diversity" goes awry in that a minority him/herself does not share their distorted political views. Men and women like Thomas, regardless of color, should each take a step back to really figure out their political views and ideologies. Too many today rely only on what "feels good" rather than what is right. Clarence, on the other hand, while always remembered as "different" by his colleagues, figured out on his own what was wrong and right and because of this won a lifetime battle against adversity and corruption.
I STRONGLY recommend this book to anyone, regardless of party affiliation, to learn about a truly remarkable man and a truly remarkable American. He came from such poverty and destitution, and today he proudly reigns on the Supreme Court. America is such an awesome country!
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