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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 624 pages
  • Publisher: Riverhead Hardcover (October 5, 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1594489289
  • ASIN: B000R7O2W8
  • Product Dimensions: 9.4 x 6.1 x 2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,160,662 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Los Angeles Times editor and reporter Newton delivers the definitive biography of Earl Warren (1891–1974) for this generation. Newton's masterful narrative synthesizes Warren in all his contradictory guises: the dynamic and outsized California prosecutor and attorney general whose own father's mysterious murder perhaps derived from that ambitious career; the man of great liberal instinct who (as a three-term Republican governor of California) insisted on the internment of Japanese-Americans following Pearl Harbor; and the hard-driving Supreme Court chief justice (1953–1969) who'd never sat on a bench anywhere, but nevertheless shepherded such historic decisions as that in Brown v. Board of Education. It was also under Warren that the Court articulated the constitutional right to privacy, abolished prayer in public schools, clarified and guaranteed voting rights for minorities and created a right to counsel in state criminal trials. As well, Warren served as head of the commission bearing his name and charged with examining the Kennedy assassination—an exercise Newton reveals as to have been part investigation, part experiment in public relations and damage control. In the course of his research, Newton has garnered extensive interviews with Warren's surviving colleagues and children, and uncovered significant new archival sources, all of which he marshals to great effect. For the first time, Newton portrays an intricately complex Warren who—though liberal in his interpretations of the Constitution and progressive in his agenda for America—remained far from radical in other respects. Using testimony of insiders who knew the man well, Newton brilliantly depicts the many-sided Warren as ferociously ambitious, smartly calculating in advancing his career, prickly and contrary when challenged and eminently attracted to both wealth and power. As Newton shows, the ardent judicial defender of the dispossessed summered at California's Bohemian Grove and made a point of dying a rich man. Warren, writes Newton, "was no Eldridge Cleaver," despite rhetoric by contemporary conservatives who routinely invoke him as the poster boy for "bad behavior" in the form of liberal judicial activism. (Oct. 5)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Earl Warren was the most important twentieth century American politician not to achieve the presidency. He spawned a couple of good biographies in the 1960s, a very good one in the 1990s, but now with Jim Newton's Justice for All: Earl Warren and the Nation He Made there is a biography that captures the man and his career in full.

Justice for All is very sensibly organized. The first quarter of the book takes Warren from birth through his initial political offices, district attorney and state attorney general. The second quarter treats the gubernatorial years of the most popular governor in California history (and losing vice-presidential candidate in 1948 as well as an unsuccessful presidential aspirant four years later). Then the final half of the book deals with the culmination of his career -- Chief Justice of the most controversial Supreme Court in American history. In each part, Newton successfully weaves Warren the family man, Warren the boss, and Warren the politician into the narrative. He was a great husband and father, a demanding boss, a thin-skinned (are there any other kind?) but extraordinarily astute (if not cerebral) politician.

Warren was a life-long Republican, but one coming out of the Progressive tradition of California Senator Hiram Johnson. Essentially, he was a non-partisan partisan. At the time California allowed candidates to cross-list and run in both primaries. Going for governor in 1942 Warren did and almost won the Democratic nomination. Seeking reelection in 1946, he did win the Democratic primary and handily swept his own party's. As governor he tried to get the best people into the correct jobs regardless of their politics and then protect them as long as they did their jobs well. Throughout Warren radiated integrity.

As a non-partisan, he took a quick -- and lifelong -- dislike to Richard Nixon (who was anxious for an endorsement that was never forthcoming). Nixon more than got even. He was the Californian who won at the 1952 Republican Convention (thanks to his underhanded dealings) and he, not Lyndon Johnson, picked Warren's successor. But Warren lived just long enough to be told that the Court had ruled against Nixon in the Watergate Tapes Case.

Warren made mistakes at every stage of his career. His handling of the Point Lobos murders was the type of prosecutorial and police conduct that he would later condemn on the Court (and he bristled at suggestions that the convicted men were innocent). He was actively involved in the forced relocation of Japanese Americans during World War II (the biggest blight on his career -- FDR's too). He might have handled charges of communism at Berkeley better. But he grew in each job as Newton adroitly demonstrates, and the proof was in his final one.

In his first year as Chief Justice he wrote the unanimous opinion in Brown v. Board of Education (1954) holding segregated schools were unconstitutional. He was instrumental in the previously split Court's ability to achieve unanimity. Brown is such a great result that Warren's place in the Court's history was made at the beginning. But he was destined to make a lot more history. A decade after Brown he wrote the opinions that held "one person, one vote" was required in both chambers of a state legislature. He believed passionately in the efficacy of the vote and thought that ending rotten boroughs would produce better legislative results. Two years later he authored Miranda v. Arizona (1966) for a 5-4 Court. Warren believed he was assisting the police to become more professional and was just giving the less fortunate the knowledge that more affluent Americans already had. Coming as it did amidst increasing crime (as the baby-boomers reached the age of criminality) and summer race riots, those justifications were ignored, and there was a huge backlash against Miranda -- ironically one that helped propel Nixon to the White House.

Despite the controversial legacy of the Warren Court, it is hard to imagine people believing that segregation should be lawful wherever whites wished it to be or that rotten boroughs should enjoy disproportionate political representation or that police should exercise their discretion without any serious supervision. Even the Warren Court's obscenity decisions (which Warren objected to) are tame, very tame, by today's standards. It will be a long, long time before someone writes a better biography of Earl Warren than Jim Newton has. Newton's choices for the Court years are judicious and show a sure hand in understanding what was important and what was not. For anyone with an interest in either twentieth century American history or the US Supreme Court, Justice for All is a must. -- Lucas A. Powe, Book of the Month Club

On my office wall hangs a faded leaflet I picked up on a Dallas street the day John F. Kennedy was shot. It shows two police-booking-style photos of the president, beneath which blares the line "Wanted for Treason" and the accusations that he aided "Communist inspired racial riots" and "illegally invaded a sovereign state" when he sent U.S. troops to quell a riot that greeted a black student's entrance to the University of Mississippi in 1962.

Just weeks before Kennedy's 1963 murder, Ku Klux Klan bombers killed four girls in a church in Birmingham, Ala. Earlier, civil rights leader Medgar Evers was assassinated in Mississippi, and Gov. George Wallace defied court orders to integrate the University of Alabama. Segregationist Southerners blamed Kennedy and the allegedly Communist-backed Martin Luther King for all of it.

But the man behind the destruction of the century-old Southern system of racial segregation was not Kennedy or any Democrat at all. That man was Earl Warren, the former Republican governor of California who was appointed chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by a Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower. By the late '60s, the solidly Democratic South had defected to the GOP because of Democratic support for civil rights legislation sparked by the Warren court's decisions.

A further irony is that Warren was an almost stereotypical Republican before joining the high court. As Jim Newton reveals in his meticulously researched and well-told new biography, "Justice for All," Warren was a zealous prosecutor, passionately anti-Communist, pro-business, anti-New Deal, anti-gambling, anti-pornography, tough on crime (his father was murdered in their Bakersfield home in 1938), and he favored interning California's Japanese and their American-born children after Pearl Harbor.

But Warren was no ideologue. Rather, he was guided by a strong sense of fair play and a fervent belief that the high court's mandate was to achieve the Founders' basic intent: All men are created equal. Sworn in as chief justice on Oct. 5, 1953, he would over the next 16 years "remake the nation's voting rights, empower criminal defendants, break down racial segregation, halt the demagogic pursuit of Communists, expand the rights of protest and dissent, embolden newspapers to challenge public leaders, and re-imagine the relationship between liberty and security in a free society," Newton writes. "[I]n the face of bitter opposition, the Warren Court imported the great values of America's Declaration of Independence and the promises of its Bill of Rights into the working life of the nation."

Newton, a longtime reporter, editor and now city-county bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, draws on a vast trove of academic, government and private materials, as well as the personal reflections of surviving relatives and associates. He traces Warren's path from young donkey rider and indifferent student through his World War I Army service, a UC Berkeley law degree and his ambitious rise from Alameda County prosecutor to state attorney general and governor in 1943. His ingratiating personal style and generally safe politics helped him win reelection twice more, with the enthusiastic backing of the state's business establishment and its two most influential conservative newspapers, the Oakland Tribune and The Times.

Not only were Warren's political acts mostly safe and circumspect, but he also was a Norman Rockwell-esque vision of the staunch Western Republican - big, bold, blue-eyed. Born in 1891 to Swedish and Norwegian immigrant working-class parents, he was a dedicated husband and father of six, an avid hunter, camper and hiker, a Mason, a passionate baseball and football fan and a regular churchgoer who liked an evening drink or two and a good cigar - in short, a real man's man.

As governor, Newton writes, Warren was hard-working and conscientious but always ambitious for higher office. He campaigned hard to win the GOP vice presidential nomination in 1948 and sought the top spot in 1952, only to see the winner, Eisenhower, choose Warren's main California rival, Richard Nixon, as his No. 2. Eisenhower later wrote that Warren's views "seemed to reflect high ideals and a great deal of common sense," but the governor was too much like himself, and he wanted balance on the ticket, including youth. (Nixon was 39, Warren 61.) Eisenhower also passed over Warren for a Cabinet post but, after several conversations with him, finally promised the first Supreme Court vacancy through his broker, Atty. Gen. Herbert Brownell. Eisenhower viewed Warren as a perfect counterbalance to the New Deal liberals on the court. Based on that assurance, Warren had announced in 1953 his resolve not to run for governor again when Chief Justice Fred Vinson died unexpectedly.

Warren immediately "struck a pose of public reserve while at the same time moving to claim the promise he felt was his." Eisenhower believed that he had promised Warren only an associate justice post, not the top one; he privately offered the job to Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. But Warren furiously worked the phones, importuning influential political, academic, business and religious leaders around the country - including his friend J. Edgar Hoover. Brownell finally went to Eisenhower and said, "We're stuck with him, I guess." The president relented - a decision he would soon come to deeply regret.

The fractious court Warren joined was composed of one Republican (Justice Harold H. Burton) and seven Democrats, including the brilliant jurists Hugo L. Black, William O. Douglas, Felix Frankfurter and Robert H. Jackson. The four fought often. Jackson and Frankfurter supported a restrained judiciary, while Black and Douglas argued for a more activist court. On controversial issues, not much had gotten done. In short order, Warren demonstrated his extraordinary leadership qualities.

African American ferment over segregation had been increasing rapidly since the end of World War II; by 1953, it had distilled into a battle over Brown vs. Board of Education, a case Warren inherited. The plaintiffs argued that segregated schools were intrinsically unequal because they signified racial inferiority, and sought to overturn an 1896 Supreme Court ruling that separate public facilities were not necessarily unequal, and thus were legal.

Some justices thought Congress should settle such matters with new laws. Some wanted to kick the matter back to the lower courts. Others wanted to stall for time, fearing social upheaval. While an anxious South waited, Warren charmed and cajoled. In May 1954, the court struck down the "separate but equal" doctrine and ordered schools integrated "with all deliberate speed." The vote was unanimous. In less than a year, Newton writes, Warren "had united his brilliant Court into a single voice on an issue of moral urgency."

Eisenhower was furious. He'd told Warren that Southerners "are not bad people. All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big overgrown Negroes," the justice wrote in his memoirs. He never forgave Eisenhower for that remark and went on to lead the court on decisions that would further irritate the president - and inflame the John Birch Society, which dotted the nation with "Impeach Earl Warren" signs.

This tough-minded but essentially admiring book is itself an act of considerable courage. Warren's enthusiasm for locking up the state's Japanese and refusing to apologize for so doing (he sincerely thought he was acting in California's best interest) makes praising him politically incorrect, especially among liberal Democrats. He is an unmentionable anathema to today's ruling Republicans. So, the legacy of Bakersfield's Earl Warren, who died in 1974, remains suspended in silent limbo. Newton's book is a loud protest against that silence. -- Karl Fleming, Los Angeles Times

On my office wall hangs a faded leaflet I picked up on a Dallas street the day John F. Kennedy was shot. It shows two police-booking-style photos of the president, beneath which blares the line "Wanted for Treason" and the accusations that he aided "Communist inspired racial riots" and "illegally invaded a sovereign state" when he sent U.S. troops to quell a riot that greeted a black student's entrance to the University of Mississippi in 1962.

Just weeks before Kennedy's 1963 murder, Ku Klux Klan bombers killed four girls in a church in Birmingham, Ala. Earlier, civil rights leader Medgar Evers was assassinated in Mississippi, and Gov. George Wallace defied court orders to integrate the University of Alabama. Segregationist Southerners blamed Kennedy and the allegedly Communist-backed Martin Luther King for all of it.

But the man behind the destruction of the century-old Southern system of racial segregation was not Kennedy or any Democrat at all. That man was Earl Warren, the former Republican governor of California who was appointed chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court by a Republican president, Dwight D. Eisenhower. By the late '60s, the solidly Democratic South had defected to the GOP because of Democratic support for civil rights legislation sparked by the Warren court's decisions.

A further irony is that Warren was an almost stereotypical Republican before joining the high court. As Jim Newton reveals in his meticulously researched and well-told new biography, "Justice for All," Warren was a zealous prosecutor, passionately anti-Communist, pro-business, anti-New Deal, anti-gambling, anti-pornography, tough on crime (his father was murdered in their Bakersfield home in 1938), and he favored interning California's Japanese and their American-born children after Pearl Harbor.

But Warren was no ideologue. Rather, he was guided by a strong sense of fair play and a fervent belief that the high court's mandate was to achieve the Founders' basic intent: All men are created equal. Sworn in as chief justice on Oct. 5, 1953, he would over the next 16 years "remake the nation's voting rights, empower criminal defendants, break down racial segregation, halt the demagogic pursuit of Communists, expand the rights of protest and dissent, embolden newspapers to challenge public leaders, and re-imagine the relationship between liberty and security in a free society," Newton writes. "[I]n the face of bitter opposition, the Warren Court imported the great values of America's Declaration of Independence and the promises of its Bill of Rights into the working life of the nation."

Newton, a longtime reporter, editor and now city-county bureau chief for the Los Angeles Times, draws on a vast trove of academic, government and private materials, as well as the personal reflections of surviving relatives and associates. He traces Warren's path from young donkey rider and indifferent student through his World War I Army service, a UC Berkeley law degree and his ambitious rise from Alameda County prosecutor to state attorney general and governor in 1943. His ingratiating personal style and generally safe politics helped him win reelection twice more, with the enthusiastic backing of the state's business establishment and its two most influential conservative newspapers, the Oakland Tribune and The Times.

Not only were Warren's political acts mostly safe and circumspect, but he also was a Norman Rockwell-esque vision of the staunch Western Republican - big, bold, blue-eyed. Born in 1891 to Swedish and Norwegian immigrant working-class parents, he was a dedicated husband and father of six, an avid hunter, camper and hiker, a Mason, a passionate baseball and football fan and a regular churchgoer who liked an evening drink or two and a good cigar - in short, a real man's man.

As governor, Newton writes, Warren was hard-working and conscientious but always ambitious for higher office. He campaigned hard to win the GOP vice presidential nomination in 1948 and sought the top spot in 1952, only to see the winner, Eisenhower, choose Warren's main California rival, Richard Nixon, as his No. 2. Eisenhower later wrote that Warren's views "seemed to reflect high ideals and a great deal of common sense," but the governor was too much like himself, and he wanted balance on the ticket, including youth. (Nixon was 39, Warren 61.) Eisenhower also passed over Warren for a Cabinet post but, after several conversations with him, finally promised the first Supreme Court vacancy through his broker, Atty. Gen. Herbert Brownell. Eisenhower viewed Warren as a perfect counterbalance to the New Deal liberals on the court. Based on that assurance, Warren had announced in 1953 his resolve not to run for governor again when Chief Justice Fred Vinson died unexpectedly.

Warren immediately "struck a pose of public reserve while at the same time moving to claim the promise he felt was his." Eisenhower believed that he had promised Warren only an associate justice post, not the top one; he privately offered the job to Secretary of State John Foster Dulles. But Warren furiously worked the phones, importuning influential political, academic, business and religious leaders around the country - including his friend J. Edgar Hoover. Brownell finally went to Eisenhower and said, "We're stuck with him, I guess." The president relented - a decision he would soon come to deeply regret.

The fractious court Warren joined was composed of one Republican (Justice Harold H. Burton) and seven Democrats, including the brilliant jurists Hugo L. Black, William O. Douglas, Felix Frankfurter and Robert H. Jackson. The four fought often. Jackson and Frankfurter supported a restrained judiciary, while Black and Douglas argued for a more activist court. On controversial issues, not much had gotten done. In short order, Warren demonstrated his extraordinary leadership qualities.

African American ferment over segregation had been increasing rapidly since the end of World War II; by 1953, it had distilled into a battle over Brown vs. Board of Education, a case Warren inherited. The plaintiffs argued that segregated schools were intrinsically unequal because they signified racial inferiority, and sought to overturn an 1896 Supreme Court ruling that separate public facilities were not necessarily unequal, and thus were legal.

Some justices thought Congress should settle such matters with new laws. Some wanted to kick the matter back to the lower courts. Others wanted to stall for time, fearing social upheaval. While an anxious South waited, Warren charmed and cajoled. In May 1954, the court struck down the "separate but equal" doctrine and ordered schools integrated "with all deliberate speed." The vote was unanimous. In less than a year, Newton writes, Warren "had united his brilliant Court into a single voice on an issue of moral urgency."

Eisenhower was furious. He'd told Warren that Southerners "are not bad people. All they are concerned about is to see that their sweet little girls are not required to sit in school alongside some big overgrown Negroes," the justice wrote in his memoirs. He never forgave Eisenhower for that remark and went on to lead the court on decisions that would further irritate the president - and inflame the John Birch Society, which dotted the nation with "Impeach Earl Warren" signs.

This tough-minded but essentially admiring book is itself an act of considerable courage. Warren's enthusiasm for locking up the state's Japanese and refusing to apologize for so doing (he sincerely thought he was acting in California's best interest) makes praising him politically incorrect, especially among liberal Democrats. He is an unmentionable anathema to today's ruling Republicans. So, the legacy of Bakersfield's Earl Warren, who died in 1974, remains suspended in silent limbo. Newton's book is a loud protest against that silence. -- Los Angeles Times

Only a skilled and seasoned reporter with a comprehensive command of Warren's California background could have produced this definitive study. -- Kevin Starr, author of Americans and the California Dream

This is exemplary biography-readable, intellectually keen, authoritative and, when appropriate, moving. -- John S. Carroll, former editor, Los Angeles Times

WASHINGTON -- It's still quite easy to remember the billboards that dotted the South in the 1960s with the common message: Impeach Earl Warren.

The chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court was a pariah to a lot of Southern whites because the court he led so fundamentally changed their way of life.

More than three decades after Warren's death, the high court prepares to open its new term on the first Monday of October, and it could well represent the start of a conservative alternative to the years Warren occupied the court's center seat.

Warren was the kind of "activist judge" that Republicans have so effectively demonized, at least since the Reagan era. From the moment he joined the court and fashioned a unanimous decision in Brown vs. Board of Education, the first of many historic civil rights rulings, Warren and his court often took steps that neither Congress nor the White House would.

In this era, think of Chief Justice John Roberts Jr. as Warren's polar opposite. Deft, genial and brilliant, the youthful Roberts could have an impact on the law as profound in one direction as Warren's was in the other.

In his deeply researched new biography, "Justice for All: Earl Warren and the Nation He Made," author Jim Newton, a reporter for the Los Angeles Times, provides insight and a timely reminder into the character of the most consequential justice of the last half-century.

Warren was a durable Republican from California who was supported in the decidedly conservative editorial pages of the Los Angeles Times in his many successful election campaigns, most notably his three terms as governor.

He was so popular he once won both the Republican and Democratic primary in the state, and his political potential was seen as limitless. He clearly eyed the White House and somewhat grudgingly agreed to be Thomas Dewey's running mate in the 1948 presidential election.

By 1952, many saw him as a front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination. And he might well have won if not for the somewhat surprise entry of Dwight Eisenhower in the race during a time of war with North Korea.

Eisenhower, Newton writes, had a consolation prize in mind for Warren, namely to be solicitor general with an assurance that he would be considered for the first opening on the Supreme Court. The day Eisenhower was to make that appointment official, Chief Justice Fred Vinson died.

That single act changed history's course.

Warren joined a court with justices who took a decidedly dim view of civil rights legislation and any expansive reading of the Constitution that would limit states' rights. But Warren, Newton notes, used his abundant political skills to win a unanimous decision in Brown vs. Board of Education.

Eisenhower would later express regret about appointing Warren, but no one was more disappointed than then-Vice President Richard Nixon, whose rocky relationship with the chief justice dated back many years to their days in California.

Few were happier than Warren the day Nixon lost the White House to John F. Kennedy in 1960. With a Democrat in the White House, and the civil rights movement gaining momentum, Warren's court forged majorities that changed almost every important aspect of life for America's blacks. Those decisions upended American politics as well, pushing the South solidly to the Republicans, and ironically leading to Nixon's eventual election as president in 1968.

As Newton persuasively writes, it was Warren's political skills, more than his legal scholarship, that made him effective. Those skills underscored the notion that it is not necessarily a bad thing to have a politician on the court, someone who has made decisions that affect people's lives and stood before them on Election Day to have those decisions validated.

Given the polarized climate of today, Earl Warren would have no chance of being nominated for the high court. His party's nominees don't mention him by name, but they speak of "activist judges" with contempt and promise to avoid them.

But activism is a coin with two sides. Conservatives can be just as activist in scaling back the law as Warren was in expanding it.

John Roberts seems to share Warren's people skills and his ability to win over his colleagues. But unlike Warren, Roberts will not surprise or disappoint Bush and conservatives. There will be no billboards about him in the South. -- Chicago Tribune, September 24, 2006 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.


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This book provides a context and insight that far surpassed my expectations.
Robert S. Preece
I would strongly recommend this book to anyone interested in American history, the history of the Supreme Court of the history of a great American.
C. Ellen Connally
This is a remarkable book of Earl Warren, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court in the 1950s and 1960s.
CJ

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

20 of 23 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence Meyer on February 19, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Earl Warren's is a biography that pays revisiting, especially now that the political center he represented is so thin and the political virtues he practiced so derided. He was an uncomplicated, direct, and plain-spoken man who nevertheless, as Chief Justice, produced astonishing results. Brown vs. the Board of Education provided the essential legal fulcrum of the Civil Rights movement that transformed America in the last half of the 20th century. Perhaps this simplicity and clear vision was the key to his effectiveness.

How to explain the contradictions in Warren's life? Eisenhower was famously unhappy with his appointee. Warren, as Chief Justice, took positions that contradicted what Warren himself, as a District Attorney and Governor, had in fact practiced. No wonder Ike was pole-axed by the Chief Justice he got. The answer seems to be that Warren focused on using the tools each office provided to advance a consistent philosophy, equal justice for all.

Also interesting is the counterpoint and interplay of the careers of Warren and Richard Nixon. Nixon plainly drafted in Warren's wake and converted to the uses of his ambition political capital Warren had accumulated, especially when he crawled over Warren's presidential ambitions to secure the nomination as Vice-President. Yet two politicians were never more dissimilar than Warren and Nixon, the one open, natural, sociable, and comfortable in his skin, the other so contrived and fabricated as to stand for the least likely politician in recent history. But Nixon feigned the virtues Warren possessed in abundance: another way he drafted in Warren's wake. When Nixon hid lies and inconsistencies behind prefaces that he was about to make things "perfectly clear," he aped only Warren's political prose, not Warren's philosophy.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Jon Hunt on April 10, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jim Newton's biography of Earl Warren, "Justice for All", is a comprehensive and richly written book about one of the great Chief Justices in our nation's history. Warren, a moderately conservative man in temperament, style and often idea, led the Court through one of the most tumultuous times in recent memory. Revered and reviled as he might have been, his legacy is certainly one of notable accomplishments and Newton captures it well.

The author presents Earl Warren in a generally favorable light, reminding us of some of his catastrophic decisions, too....especially his support for the internment of Japanese-Americans during the Second World War. For a moderate, almost non-partisan Republican, Warren had terrific success as governor of California propelling him into the national limelight with only one real political miscalculation of consequence...his agreeing to be Thomas Dewey's Vice Presidential running mate in 1948. Here begins the real fascinating part of Newton's book...politics. Whether it was Earl Warren's tenure as governor, or later dealing with the many presidents he knew or the intricacies of the personalities on the Court, Newton is terrific at describing political process. As Warren was a Republican it was interesting to read that the three Republicans he knew who were or would become president...Eisenhower, Nixon and Ford....were ones with whom Warren had the most troubles. (The descriptions of Richard Nixon add some good humor to the book!) The Chief Justice thought the most highly of President Kennedy, we learn, and he at least got along reasonably well with Lyndon Johnson.

There are many court cases, of course, cited in this book.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Howard Wexler on February 1, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I rarely give a 5-star review on a book. This one gets one for a stack of reasons.

When I finish a biography, I ask myself if I feel like I know the person. I feel I know Warren.

Another reason to like this book, it makes no bones about Warren's bad decisions, his support of the uprooting of Japanese in California in 1941. The author is not shy about criticizing Earl Warren.

Finally, I am a layman. It is a tough task to explain complex legal decisions to a non-lawyer. But Newton does it quite well.

One other thought: After all the learning I did by reading this book, it makes me quite critical of any and all the "teachers" I had in government and American History. They could not teach a politician to steal.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By John P Bernat on December 8, 2006
Format: Hardcover
Earl Warren stands over the American twentieth century like few other figures. As an odd proof for this statement, my Exhibit A is Roe v. Wade.

The "Warren Court" became so noted for judicial liberality and activism that any Supreme Court decisions which seemed to expand civil rights quickly became associated with it. So many decisions "created" rights for each citizen (such as the imputed "right" to privacy).

However, it was the Burger Court, not the Warren Court, that decided Roe v. Wade. This book points that out, but it also offers many other qonderful insights into Earl Warren.

His leadership style and ability is best characterized by "doggedness." Very often, he achieved Court majorities (and in many cases unanimous decisions) by sheer persistence with his colleagues. Jim Newton speculates that this is because of his Swedish ethnic heritage.

I regard that as an invidious stereotype. I'd prefer to think that Warren's drive came from an innate and constant spirit to struggle for what is right, regardless of prevailing sentiment and political obstacles.

What the book offers great appreciation for is how our society could have looked if Warren had never existed. Warren's court upheld the 1964 Civil Rights Act and so much other civil rights era legislation. There were strong legal arguments against this expansion of federal power, yet few today, in hindsight, would argue that we'd have been better off without the federal government's role in civil rights.

It's a great book about a great man.
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