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Counsel for the Situation: Shaping the Law to Realize America's Promise Hardcover – October 26, 2010


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"This is much more than an autobiography, although it is one of the best I have ever read. It is a history of our times. Bill Coleman has provided us with one more act of public service in this fascinating and wide-ranging memoir."—David Rockefeller, former chairman, Council on Foreign Relations, and CEO, Chase Manhattan Bank



"This must-read book is written by a truly great American who has demonstrated great love of our country. Anchored by the fundamentals of hard work, excellence, sacrifice, and purpose, Bill Coleman has written an excellent tutorial for those interested in the legal profession and public service."—Vernon E. Jordan, Jr., former president and CEO, National Urban League



"Bill Coleman's recollections of conversations and dealings with notable personalities— presidents, Supreme Court justices, cabinet officers, and business and community leaders—not only make his commentary a fascinating read but, importantly, a must-read for all Americans to understand more clearly the fundamental principles that make our nation 'a more perfect union."—Carla A. Hills, former U.S. secretary of housing and urban development



"Generations of Americans will be indebted to Secretary Coleman. His remarkable story is beautifully set forth in this thoughtful and compelling book. His fierce intellect, diligence, and uncommon integrity have been brought to bear on scores of challenging and pivotal issues spanning nearly a century."—Thurgood Marshall, Jr.



"William Coleman belongs to the diminishing breed of distinguished citizen-statesmen who never sought the limelight, but whose brilliant intellect brought him to the pinnacle of success in the legal field, whose passion for justice drove his commitment to civil rights, and whose sense of obligation to serve his country led him to the highest echelons of government. His engaging memoir sums up his exceptional life with the insight and wisdom which have defined it."—Henry Kissinger, former U.S. secretary of state

About the Author

William T. Coleman Jr. is currently a senior partner and the senior counselor in the Washington office of O'Melveny & Myers LLP, one of the world's foremost law firms. He joined the firm after serving as U.S. secretary of transportation during the Ford administration.

Donald T. Bliss has served as a U.S. ambassador, in senior positions at the U.S. departments of transportation and health, education, and welfare, and as a partner of O'Melveny & Myers LLP.

Stephen G. Breyer is an associate justice of the U.S. Supreme Court.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 450 pages
  • Publisher: Brookings Institution Press (October 26, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0815704887
  • ISBN-13: 978-0815704881
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,330,432 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Daniel E. Eaton on June 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
William Coleman's memoirs tell the story of an extraordinary life in the law in the man's own words. Many notable people, starting with his remarkable wife, have shaped Secretary Coleman's life and he in turn has helped shape the lives of countless others. Mr. Coleman's story is at one level an inspiring story of a man of firsts: first African-American to finish first in his class at Harvard Law School; first African-American to clerk at the U.S. Supreme Court; first black partner at a major Philadelphia law firm; first black Secretary of Transportation . . . and the list goes on.

But even as well-chronicled as his achievements have been, there are surprises in every chapter of this book. The reader gets answers to such important questions as: What was Mr. Coleman's reaction, as a member of the team that litigated Brown v. the Board of Education, to including references in the Supreme Court briefs to the well-known doll experiment? How close was Mr. Coleman to being named to the Supreme Court? How did Bill Clinton first come to Mr. Coleman's attention? What proposal did Mr. Coleman make as Secretary of Transportation that, had it been implemented after he left office, may have prevented the tragedy of 9/11? Why is Mr. Coleman a Republican? Why, notwithstanding his partisan affiliation, did Mr. Coleman decide to testify against Ronald Reagan's nomination of Robert Bork to the Supreme Court, a man Mr. Coleman, as a member of the ABA evaluation panel, rated as exceptionally well-qualified to sit on the lower federal appeals court just a few years earlier? What are Mr. Coleman's ten secrets, discerned from 60 years of practice, for a successful legal career?
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By John B. Stine II on January 15, 2011
Format: Hardcover
William T. Coleman, Jr. Esq.'s autobiography chronicles the history of the movement for racial equality in America, seen through the eyes of a remarkable and steadfast agent of progress. Born in 1920 in North Philadelphia, Coleman, an American of color, personally experienced racial discrimination at many points in his life, but his continuous struggle to end discrimination was fought in the courtroom and the boardroom, not in the streets. Coleman's achievements are too numerous to mention here, but some highlights include: graduating summa cum laude from the University of Pennsylvania (1941), graduating first in his class at Harvard Law School (1946), clerking for Supreme Court Associate Justice Felix Frankfurter (1948-49), working closely with NAACP legal team, victoriously led by (later Supreme Court Justice) Thurgood Marshall in the landmark case against discrimination-Brown vs. Board of Education (1953-54), won the landmark Girard College case (breaking the discriminatory trust of Stephen Girard to allow children of color to attend the school), serving as senior counsel for the Warren Commission (investigating the assassination of President Kennedy), serving in Gerald Ford's cabinet as Secretary of Transportation, testifying in the infamous Robert Bork Supreme Court nomination hearings, being awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom (the highest honor accorded to a civilian in the U.S.) by President Clinton, and serving on boards of a Who's Who of American businesses, while being the first American of color elected partner in his Philadelphia law firm (the firm founded by Philadelphia mayor Richardson Dilworth).

Coleman, now 90, and the senior partner in the Washington D.C.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Lovida H. Coleman, Jr. on March 16, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I must disclose that I am the proud daughter of the author. I write to direct those who would like an unusally interesting read regarding the life of a lawyer and the making of public policy to an informative and unbiased review the book received this month: [...]

The review speaks for itself.
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