From Publishers Weekly
This in-depth look at the life of Clarence Thomas, who has kept a low public profile for over a decade, is a refreshing change. Foskett, a journalist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution
, focuses on Thomas's growth—from his upbringing at the hands of a strict grandfather through his time at Yale Law School and his eventual, albeit controversial, ascension to the Supreme Court. Relying on a mixture of secondary sources and oral interviews, Foskett delves into Thomas's intellectual development, from a flirtation with black power in college to his embrace of the natural law philosophy that dictates his strict reading of the Constitution. While Foskett leaves no stone unturned in detailing Thomas's history, he occasionally is less effective at connecting the dots: is there a connection between Thomas's strict upbringing, his attendance at religious schools and his hard-line judicial philosophy? Foskett is occasionally critical of Thomas (he notes a scandal that dogged Thomas when he headed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), but mainly argues that Thomas's legal mind has been unfairly criticized because he's a black conservative. Foskett's conclusion that Thomas was likely more truthful at his Senate confirmation hearings than Anita Hill will be a turnoff to some. But those able to suspend political judgment will learn a lot about the court's most controversial justice.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
reporter Foskett cracked Justice Thomass media-wary shell by approaching him after a Good Friday service. He deserves points for bravery, but most critics agree that this partially authorized biography leaves much to be desired (Thomas did not grant him access to his private papers). It makes sense that the conservative New York Sun
would be the lone rave review, since Foskett is highly sympathetic towards Thomas throughout, even defending him against Hills charges (she declined to be interviewed for the book). Others excoriate Foskett for not thoroughly examining the strange pattern of anger and ideological shifts that define Thomass life; more than one critic called Fosketts research shoddy. A highlight? Two sitting members of the Supreme Court went on the record (with complimentary remarks) about Thomas.
Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.