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The Paper Chase Paperback – September 2, 2004


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About the Author

John Jay Osborn, Jr. graduated from Harvard Law School in 1970. He wrote The Paper Chase while he was a full-time law student. Osborn has clerked for the United States Court of Appeals, practiced law in New York City, and taught at the University of Miami School of Law. Since 1981 he has practiced in the estate-planning field, as well as giving advice and representation to artists and writers. Osborn is the author of four novels and has written episodes for a variety of network television shows. Since 1991 he has been a lecturer at the law school of the University of California at Berkeley.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 249 pages
  • Publisher: Whitston Publishing Co Inc; Special Anniversary Ed edition (September 2, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 087875539X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0878755394
  • Product Dimensions: 0.8 x 6 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,082,242 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By John Capute on March 27, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've been looking for this book for years, since I lost my dog eared copy that was published in conjunction with the television series back in the early 80s. The show was what initially turned me on to the novel, and then I saw the film. If you remember the series, and have seen the film, then the book will offer not that many surprises, and I mean that in a positive way. They follow Osborn's novel pretty faithfully, with the addition, as a reflectionof the time in which they were made, of female students. All three follow the education of first year Harvard law student James Hart, during which time the true test for him is not the grades he will get (as his lover Susan tells him, he is the kind of guy born for law school), but more to the point, will he, as he slaves away to earn those precious A's, lose his...well, heart, his soul, the spark of humanity made up primarily of compassion that seems to be the first casuality of the cut-throat world of the law school. Osborn's book is low-key, is subtle: to its credit, it does not inflate this conflict unrealistically. As in the movie, Hart never loses sight of the ring: the Harvard degree that will make him most likely wealthy and powerful. But the question Osborn presents is how does one get the ring and keep his soul intact? Is it possible? What compromises does it call for? Heady stuff for a little book, but Osborn pulls it off effectively and convincingly.

It's a very very good novel: if you cared for the film, if you remember the travails of Hart and his crew in the series (depicted much more kindly than they are in the book), then you should read the original. It's worth it.
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12 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Killian HALL OF FAME on March 24, 2005
Format: Paperback
What a novel! Back then people read it for Osborn's portrait of himself as Jim Hart, the young, idealistic law student, still kind of a do-gooder underneath the long hair. Jim busts his ass trying not just to pass but to excel at Harvard yet runs afoul of the dread Professor Kingsfield, whose course in the bleak Langdell Hall is legendary for being arduous and still finally rewarding. Now, thirty years on, Osborn has attained Kingsfield status himself as he teaches nearby at the law school at USF (University of San Francisco, the Jesuit School here in SF), and students are said to quake outside his office door but, once they encounter his warm smile and kindly handshake, the fear abates.

I hate to disagree with a previous reviewer who said that Osborn's novel is a 1960s revision of a 1940 novel. I don't think so, my friend. You must be getting your facts wrong from someone else.

The TV version and the movie version of THE PAPER CHASE fleshed out the rebellious, seductive daughter of Kingsfield, and the movie version was notable for the scene in which Jim was caught in her bed and had to leap out the window is just a pair of boxers to escape the professor's wrath.

Harvard, which allowed no women into its law school until the 1950s, was paradoxically proud of its law program, and they say this novel (together with LOVE STORY by Erich Segal) caused the flurry of admissions for Harvard to leap up 200 per cent when it was first published.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Carolina M-P on January 31, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
You have to read this book if you loved the movie and the TV show.
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By rodney91 on December 29, 2012
Format: Paperback
It is unfair to compare an author's work with the interpretation of that work presented in a movie. The author is the one who originally conceived the story and the vision of that story put forth in his novel should be judged on it's own merit. This being said, it is extremely difficult for me to do this for Mr. Osborn's novel, 'The Paper Chase'. The 1970s film, which I grew up seeing, casts such a long shadow and has become such a part of American culture that it is nearly impossible to approach the book without preconception.

For those new to 'The Paper Chase', I suggest that if possible, read the book before seeing the John Houseman film. You will be in much better position to appreciate Osborn's work the way it was intended. For the huge majority of us who cannot do this, my advice is to try and approach the novel with fresh eyes.

That being said, let me add that there are some things that I was disappointed were not in the novel. As a reader, I was hoping to learn more about Bell, the other members of Hart's study group and Susan. I was hoping to read conversations with Kingsfield and members of the staff. To hear Kingsfield's thoughts as he brought down students and to find out more about Hart. I also wanted to know the ultimate fate of Kevin and if anyone ever learned the identity of the crazy, screaming law student.

But these were expectations created by viewing the film.

In writing the novel, 'The Paper Chase', Osborn was not trying to create a love story or human interest story. He was depicting the law school experience and the pressures and challenges it places on the student. How the experience affects each person differently and what the consequences of it can be. Including, challenging the system, traditional thinking and behavior.
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Format: Paperback
The Paper Chase has always been one of my favorite movies and my Contracts professor in law school used a classic Socratic method approach a la Professor Kingsfield. Recently, I finally had the opportunity to read the book and really enjoyed it. The Paper Chase is a great storyline, especially showing off the neuroses of first year law students (unfortunately, I can relate) along with the professors who command your attention at the lectern. Osborne's dialogue and storylines are quick and to the point. The book is a quick read, leaving you with a positive impression at the end. Given that I've watched the movie several times, I could picture the characters, setting, and music as I was reading. The biggest difference for me in reading the book is the lack of the music score, which is what, in many ways, makes the movie (after Houseman's performance, of course). Overall, I enjoyed the book and would recommend it to anyone interested in the grind of law school or who is a fan of the movie.
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