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Cleaning Up Hardcover – November 24, 1997

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Editorial Reviews

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The day before Good Friday 1989, Captain Joseph Hazelwood and the crew of the Exxon Valdez pulled out of the northernmost ice-free port in Alaska, bound for Long Beach, California. Just hours after weighing anchor, though, the mammoth supertanker ran aground on Bligh Reef, spilling millions of gallons of oil into Prince William Sound. Cleanup workers labored for months rinsing rocky beaches and swabbing sea otters, but Cleaning Up is about when things really got sticky, as waves of slick plaintiff's lawyers washed ashore along with a flotsam of allegations and a jetsam of subpoenas.

Directing the controversial and complex civil action was an ambitious environmental lawyer from Minneapolis, Brian Boru O'Neill. From the beginning, his strategy was to stage a morality play pitting thousands of ordinary Alaskans whose lives and livelihoods depended on Prince William Sound's vast natural resources against a colossal multinational corporation reckless enough to leave 53 million gallons of toxic crude oil in the hands of an alcoholic. But, as Lebedoff writes, no case is that clear-cut; Exxon is no evil empire, and O'Neill foreclosed on small farms before he became a populist crusader. Cleaning Up meticulously reconstructs how one of the worst environmental disasters in history led to the biggest drunk-driving case of all time, but Lebedoff takes the nonfiction legal thriller one step further, personalizing the enormous impersonal devastation, adding flesh and faces to the skeletal frame provided by headlines. --Tim Hogan

From Library Journal

Lebedoff, a Harvard-trained attorney and senior vice president of Voyageur Asset Management, offers an interesting narrative of one of America's most costly and complex civil trials. The case is based on fishermen's claims against Exxon stemming from the Valdez tanker disaster. Lebedoff attempts to present a balanced history of the entire affair?from Captain Hazlewood's childhood to jury selection and the final damage award. However, his grounding is clearly at the plaintiffs' table, focusing in particular on the background and trial strategy of the plaintiffs' chief litigator, Brian O'Neill. Lebedoff's writing is also a bit too pithy, keeping the work from being comprehensive: "Phase Two [of the trial] need not detain the reader for long, as it did so many others. It came and went." He seems to straddle the line?omitting too much to interest other attorneys while boring lay readers with legalistic detail. Recommended only for large history and environmental collections.?Steven Anderson, Baltimore Cty. Circuit Court Law Lib., Towson, Md.
Copyright 1997 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; First Edition edition (November 24, 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684837064
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684837062
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,669,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

David Lebedoff lives in Minnesota and has won rave reviews all over the country for his books on a variety of subjects, ranging from the death of democracy to a courtroom drama to a joint biography of George Orwell and Evelyn Waugh. Now he has written a thriller. Just as Jaws kept people out of the water, BUZZ, available for purchase on June 1, 2015, may make people hesitate to go outdoors.

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Harry Walsh on May 10, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Zestfully written, this survey of the Exxon Valdez oil catastrophe gives a good idea of what to expect from courts as the lawyers and judges work away on the Gulf of Mexico oil catastrophe, and on whatever is the next big one.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 1, 1999
Format: Hardcover
David Lebedoff is an excellent author. He goes to great lengths to portray factually and fairly the complicated story of the Exxon Valdez oil spill and ensuing trial. Despite the complex legal issues involved, Lebedoff skillfully makes the book read as though it were a novel. I would reccomend this book to anyone in need of a good read.
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Format: Hardcover
I picked up Lebedoff's book in search of background information on the Exxon defense attorneys. A quick scan revealed that the book focuses primarily on the plaintiffs' attorneys - but it hooked me from the start, and was so interesting that I read it anyway, and loved it. Great insight to Faegre & Benson and the unique team that led the charge in Alaska. Well written book, highly recommended for legal junkies or anyone interested in the background and fallout from this disaster.
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Format: Kindle Edition
Despite being a Faegre partner through much of the litigation, I was never fully aware of the incredible effort that O'Neill and others made in seeking justice for the Exxon victims. Knowing now what the Supreme Court ultimately did to the judgment, gives this account the feel of Greek tragedy.
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