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In Defense of Women: Memoirs of an Unrepentant Advocate Paperback – April 17, 2012


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Beacon Press (April 17, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780807011485
  • ISBN-13: 978-0807011485
  • ASIN: 0807011487
  • Product Dimensions: 8.9 x 5.9 x 0.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #328,725 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1975 Gertner, an aggressive, dogged, and idealistic lawyer, began an illustrious career defending high-profile cases involving women's or civil rights issues just as those movements were being tested in the courtroom. Now a federal judge, Gertner tells familiar courtroom dramas along with the less familiar chronicle of how the legal culture responded to the growing number of women in the ranks and how the law changed in response to the gender-driven legal issues they raised. Gertner's first high-profile case was in defense of Susan Saxe, a Vietnam war protestor accused of murder and bank robbery. Gertner lost, but the ultimate plea to lesser charges was perceived as a victory. In 1989 Gertner took on Merrill Lynch in a sex discrimination case; made history by asserting the battered woman syndrome in defense of a woman charged with murdering her husband; and in 1987 challenged Harvard's denial of tenure to a woman law professor. Gertner adeptly describes insider courtroom strategy as well as both the blatant and insidious institutional sexism she faced. Her story is a well-told reflection of the growth and growing pains of the legal system regarding women as advocates, educators, plaintiffs, and defendants. (Apr.)
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

Review

“…[A] must read for any feminist attorneys. Readers will find Gertner’s honesty, humor, and bravery refreshing.”—Ms.JD

“At age 29, barely out of Yale Law School, Gertner takes on the defense of Susan Saxe. It is the beginning of a long career pushing the boundaries of law and society. With wit, heart, and honesty, Gertner . . . looks back on the decades just after feminism’s Third Wave, when issues like abortion for poor women, shield laws for rape victims, ‘battered wife syndrome,’ and the rights of lesbians to adopt children were unconventional, to say the least.”—Renee Loth, The Boston Globe

“In this season of television re-runs, devotees of Law and Order or The Good Wife would do well to turn off the tube, and sit down with Gertner’s book. They might pull an all-nighter.”—Senior Women

“Nancy Gertner's In Defense of Women is fascinating, fearless and fun - an exemplary life told with both wisdom and warmth.”—Jeffrey Toobin, Author of The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court

“This is a wonderfully readable and involving memoir by one of the legendary lawyer advocates of our time, a determined representative of the underserved who improbably ended up on the federal bench. A terrific book.”—Scott Turow, author of Innocent
 
“This is a fascinating memoir of a life lived in the law with passion, guts, humor, and great skill. Nancy Gertner’s clients were lucky to have her then, and the legal system is lucky to have her today.”—Linda Greenhouse, author of Before Roe v. Wade
 
“An extraordinary story by an extraordinary judge! Gertner’s memoir succeeds brilliantly in explaining why women’s voices are urgently needed in the law and on the bench. This book is as irreverent, funny, and dramatic as the justice herself.”—Joyce Antler, author of You Never Call! You Never Write!
 
“Nancy Gertner is a courageous pioneer and brilliant jurist whose life lessons will interest anyone who has ever stood in a courtroom, fought for a cause, or juggled a demanding career and loving family.”—Rosabeth Moss Kanter, author of SuperCorp
 
“Nancy Gertner’s book should be required reading at every law school in the country where women—and men—are learning these days that they have to choose between a successful legal career and their deepest convictions about justice. She is living proof that you don’t have to sacrifice one for the other. You can have it all. Indeed, she has done it all.”  —Ellen Goodman, author of Paper Trail

"This is a fascinating memoir of a life lived in the law with passion, guts, humor, and great skill. Nancy Gertner's clients were lucky to have her then, and the legal system is lucky to have her today."—Linda Greenhouse, author of Becoming Justice Blackmuna (and Pulitzer Prize winning reporter who covered the United States Supreme Court for nearly three decades for The New York Times.)
 
“Gertner adeptly describes insider courtroom strategy as well as both the blatant and insidious institutional sexism she faced. Her story is a well-told reflection of the growth and growing pains of the legal system regarding women as advocates, educators, plaintiffs, and defendants.—Publisher's Weekly

“A riveting legal memoir by a superstar lawyer, a compassionate judge and a page turning writer. In Defense of Women is a rare treat:  an insider with an outsider’s perspective speaking truth about power.”─Alan M. Dershowitz, author of Supreme Injustice

“[A] thoroughly engaging, outspoken memoir…She writes this memoir to preserve her pre-judge identity as an advocate, as well as to remind the next generation of women, particularly those rejecting feminism, of the choices she and her contemporaries fought hard to maintain.”─Kirkus Reviews 


From the Hardcover edition.

More About the Author

Nancy Gertner was appointed a Federal District Judge by President Clinton in 1997 and serves on the bench for the District of Massachusetts. A graduate of Barnard College and Yale Law School, she has taught at Yale Law School, Boston College Law School, Boston University School of Law, and Harvard Law School.

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By BRSLaw on June 13, 2011
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a new female lawyer, this book really resonated with me. Judge Nancy Gertner's message about gender equality is great, and the stories she uses to illustrate are interesting and at times unbelievable(but true) (e.g., when a judge sarcastically commented that another woman in the courtroom is just what he needed)!
I would recommend this book to any female attorney, anyone interested in women's rights issues, or any interested in great stories about unique legal battles.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Robert J. Cooke on June 24, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition
Well written and terrific stories. The importance of context and perspective are at the heart of this book. Fascinating to get a view into the thinking of a feminist defense lawyer.
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Format: Hardcover
You know there are only 9 reviews on this book and it's been out a couple of years. To me, that just reveals how unrivaled that Nancy Gertner is. Even though, she is one of the most remarkable women that I have ever read, and her intelligence and her travails shine through this book from page one, as she becomes even more authentic trying to discover the truth about her trial cases and the people she represents, it is like she wrote this book and then just moved on, not trying to acclaim herself in anyway possible but to simply tell her story. That in itself, should be heralded as her life changes from a true woman activist, turned lawyer then appointed as judge, yet always thinking what is right and what is wrong, and standing up for her opinions and helping change society especially on how they view the minority's side which she almost always represented. Many, many kudos for her and her unpretentious stance. We need more women like her in the legal profession, who are unafraid to take unpopular positions and take up for causes especially for women, who are sorely in need of heroines, which she clearly is. She had many life options, she could have stayed in the Supreme Court setting and moved her way up, she could have stayed in academia, and had an easier life in just teaching from the inside, she could have stayed in law partnerships and just accepted the lucrative offers, but no, she stood out and heralded the cases that no one else was interested in. She is a forerunner for all the women's issues that are still going on today and because of that, she will be forever remembered.Read more ›
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The years seem only to have made her passion for justice broader, more inclusive of a common humanity. In ' In Defense of Women,' this former federal judge cannot help but reveal herself to be a woman of all the people.
I am a believer, not only in her memoir, but in her.
My disclaimer:I went 'bonkers' for this gal the first time I saw her in a camp in the Catskills,a long time ago.
Her friend then, I enjoyed some of the innocence of our times together:Sound of Music,The World's Fair. I remember meeting her parents,feeling the warmth and vitality of the home she describes so intimately in her memoir.
For Nancy,from the beginning,the law was always personal. That said, I also felt I was unfairly lampooned by those little 'isms' that were about to transform our nation by inter-gender war!

Gertner told me that my politics were brutish, more caveman than what was needed to transform the nation.
A lot, I learned, and a lot I learned from her about how liberating for males true feminism could be.

But it wasn't her challenge to the status quo, or her brilliance, that set Nancy Gertner apart. It was more her heart, the compassion she showed for the downtrodden, the underprivileged, and her memoir beats with the drums of that living history, and the true liberalism of her ideals. Written with clarity, often poetic with personal anecdotes of a life well lived, Gertner needs not be repentant. Truth thus gleaned is a little like the air we need to breathe.

Nancy Gertner came before her time enough to help forge the times we are fortunate to have today. A modern day Prometheus, she battled us in the caves with her own brand of fire and truth.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Nancy Gertner is a fascinating person to read about. Besides her indomitable energy, her obvious intelligence and dedication, she is fun to listen to. In this book about a US District Court Judge, former defense lawyer and women's rights advocate we can learn about real life court cases, major cases, and see how Nancy has shaped the law in Massachusetts. Working women will enjoy her descriptions about being a mother in a court robe when her proceeding is interrupted by a phone calls from her six year old demanding to know where is the chocolate pudding that was supposed to be his snack. And Judge Gertner didn't even know that Peter could dial a phone. While all these hilarious situations appear in chapter after chapter, we are immersed in the world of human rights, women's rights, minority rights. I learned so much about the trials of high-profile defendants such as Susan Saxe who is no longer just a name to me.
Her love for her family comes out in every chapter, her husband, her sons, her sister and her parents, Moishe and Sadie. It gives a very human profile to an absolute dynamo. I laughed out loud when I learned that her beagle was named after her mother. She had married late and didn't have children until she was in her early forties. Her parents always lamented that their daughter wasn't married. So when she broke up with her last boyfriend in her late thirties she was left with the beagle which she named Samantha, after Nancy's late mother, "in the Jewish tradition."
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