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Opening Arguments: A Young Lawyer's First Case: United States v. Oliver North Hardcover – February 1, 1991

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Viking Adult (February 1, 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0670837032
  • ISBN-13: 978-0670837038
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 20 x 20 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 2.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (3 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,646,669 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Jeffrey Toobin is a staff writer at The New Yorker, senior legal analyst at CNN, and the bestselling author of The Oath: The Obama White House and the Supreme Court, The Nine, Too Close to Call, A Vast Conspiracy, The Run of His Life and Opening Arguments. A magna cum laude graduate of Harvard Law School, he lives with his family in New York.

Customer Reviews

2.7 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Mr. Toobin's personal experience as part of the prosecution of Oliver North is fascinating and sometimes revelatory. The book well deserves Bill Moyers' laudatory description as "a valuable account of how politics and law entwined in the Iran-Contra trials" and that it can be "a citizen's education too." I started reading soon after I received it, and the book dominated my reading until I finished it about a week later.

The most disappointing part of the book is Mr. Toobin's deeply unsatisfying reconciliation of his stated values with the ultimate outcome of the case. The the blatant circumvention of the constitutional authority of the Congress of the United States and defiance of the rule of law as reflected in the conduct of Colonel North, Robert McFarlane, John Poindexter, and, indeed, President Reagan was the real crime in this national scandal. The difficulty of obtaining a criminal conviction and the necessity of making hard prosecutorial decisions, especially in the unique and difficult circumstances of this case, is an important aspect of this story. But Mr. Toobin's emphatic insistence that they got convictions on three counts (of the twelve in the indictment, i.e. twenty-five percent) for the "real crimes" of "lying, cheating, and stealing" falls flat. It is really only an exercise of existential self-deception to appease the psychological ennui of having worked so hard for so long for so little.

It takes only a little critical thinking to recognize this. First of all, "lying, cheating, and stealing" are not always crimes. It is a bit odd that Mr. Toobin fails to recognize this as he writes, attempting to salvage satisfaction from disappointment.
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6 of 20 people found the following review helpful By Orrin C. Judd VINE VOICE on November 21, 2000
Format: Paperback
Those who are decrying the methods & motives of Ken Starr would do well to read this insider's account of the IranContra case by the New Yorker's legal writer.
Among the familiar elements of the story are politically motivated prosecutions (Toobin wanted to join Judge Walsh's staff because he disagreed with Reagan's Central America policy), press leaks (by Toobin himself) & relatively minor charges (lying to Congress, obstruction, etc.)
What distinguishes the story of IranContra from Whitewater is the absence of political attacks on the special prosecutor by the White House. In fact, at one point Reagan makes a special appointment of Walsh when North challenges the constitutionality of a special prosecutor appointed by Congressional statute.
These days, in the pages of the New Yorker, Toobin attacks everything from sexual harassment law itself to degradation of privacy rights in his effort to delegitimize the Starr investigation. One wonders if he's forgotten the personal experiences that he defly portrays here.
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4 of 18 people found the following review helpful By WPSALC on January 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This book is all about the author and the minor position he held in a historic event and little about the historic event. His bias is unmistakable and the book unremarkable and not well written.

He (or his editor) used the incorrect word for a juror challenge on page 211, line 24 (preemptory instead of peremptory), a 1st year law student knows better. If someone will pay shipping I will send the book before I toss it in the trash but it is not worth the time I spent to read it.
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