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Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary Paperback – February 1, 2000


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Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary + Thurgood Marshall: His Speeches, Writings, Arguments, Opinions, and Reminiscences (The Library of Black America series)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 504 pages
  • Publisher: Broadway Books; Reprint edition (February 1, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0812932994
  • ISBN-13: 978-0812932997
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.1 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (38 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #206,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Washington Post correspondent and TV commentator Juan Williams has produced an illuminating look at a true giant of 20th-century American politics. Williams retells the story of Thurgood Marshall's successful desegregation of public schools in the U.S. with his victory in the case of Brown v. Board of Education, followed by his appointment to the Supreme Court in 1967 for a 24-year term. But he also recounts how W.E.B. Du Bois, then the head of the NAACP, gave a cold shoulder to the younger Marshall (who eventually helped oust Du Bois from the organization), and describes the tug of war between Marshall and FBI director J. Edgar Hoover, as well as the mind games Lyndon Johnson played on Marshall before nominating him for the Supreme Court. Readers also learn about Marshall's relationship with his replacement, Clarence Thomas, which was surprisingly civil given their contrary views on affirmative action. Williams has captured many examples of Thurgood Marshall's heroism and humanity in this comprehensive yet readable biography of a complex, combative, and courageous civil rights figure. --Eugene Holley Jr. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Thirteen years before becoming the first African-American justice on the Supreme Court, Thurgood Marshall's place in American history was secured, with his victory over school segregation in Brown v. Board of Education. Williams (Eyes on the Prize) offers readers a thorough, straightforward life of "the unlikely leading actor in creating social change in the United States in the twentieth century." Although he was denied access to the files of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, where Marshall devoted more than 40 years of his law career, and worked without the cooperation of Marshall's family, Williams has managed to fill in the blanks with over 150 interviews, including lengthy sessions with Marshall himself in 1989. Marshall is portrayed as an outspoken critic of black militancy and nonviolent demonstrations. Williams mentions, but does not dwell on, Marshall's history of heavy drinking, womanizing and sexual harassment. But his private contacts with J. Edgar Hoover and the FBI, even while that organization was working to discredit Martin Luther King Jr. and Malcolm X, receives critical attention. This relationship "could have cost him his credibility among civil rights activists had it become known," writes Williams. Likewise, it would appear that his extra-legal activities and charges of incompetence and Communist connections would, if publicized, have kept him from the Supreme Court, as he himself admitted. Nevertheless, this work will stand as an accessible and fitting tribute to a champion of individual rights and "the architect of American race relations." Photos not seen by PW. Author tour.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Gave indepth information which was thouroughly reasearched.
JB
Juan Williams is a fine writer and manages to bring Thurgood Marshall to life within the pages of this excellent biography.
Hope for the Best
It's simply amazing reading about this man's will and determination through such adversity.
Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Christina Sorenson on August 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
This is one of the most wonderful books I ever read. Thurgood Marshall is one of the most dynamic figures of the Civil Rights Movement. Williams not only gives an excellent and engaging account of Marshall's life, he represents the time in a manner that easily imagined. I was not alive during this period of time, but reading Williams' book made me feel as though I had experienced it. So often, when an author truly likes and admires his subject, the work that results is biased and not well-rounded. You can tell when you are reading something that is one-sided and too tributory to be accurate. Williams' admiration for this great man shines through in his book; however, it is by no means a song to Marshall. Williams' is fair in his dedication to not only Marshall's courage and brilliance, but also his fallibility and humanity. This is what brings the history to life. When you finish reading this book, you will feel as though you know Thurgood Marshall.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful By fourants@california.net on August 21, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Williams certainly understands the value of Marshall's great contributions to the long overdue advancement of African-Americans. Often over shadowed by King and Malcom X, Marshall accomplished much with his work in the courts to pave the way for the end of segregation. The sections leading up to Brown were compelling and helped bring the reader back to time that is very different than today, but not too long ago. People unfamilar with the reality of the 1930s, 1940s, and 1950s will find this book invaluable. However, the strength of this book is that it paints Marshall not only as a great man, but a man with flaws. His dealings with other leaders, especially his conflicts with other great African-American leaders, his late night drinking, his womanizing all make him more human and more compelling. Not only was Marshall a significant fiqure in the Civil Rights movement, but he was also human, a man that readers can relate to and understand.
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19 of 23 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 5, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Thurgood Marshall needs a better book than this one, but in the absence of a more comprehensive, analytical volume, that would be alot longer & cover his thought and his life, this work will have to do. Juan Williams is a very good writer, the prose is "breezy" and the book is a fast read laden with interesting characters & interesting gossip. It shows Marshall's central place in 20th century, indeed US historical, civil rights in various arenas, not just racial justice. He is a very appealing person as well ... someone any reader probably would enjoy having known. I noticed in the forward that Williams was prevented from talking to some of the people closest to Marshall, which is most unfortunate. The book is not an expose but a very favorable view of the man. Marshall's relatives should be kicking themselves for not having shared their views & experiences with Williams. The next biographer will almost certainly be a more critical writer than Williams. Where the book falls down is in its exposition of Marshall's thought & some of the details of his legal work. So we come away, unfortunately, not understanding that Marshall was an intellectual giant, not just a legal-oriented civil rights leader. I enjoyed this book very much but gave it only 3 stars because it is almost entirely missing Marshall's intellectual life.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Customer on April 17, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This book possesses tons of leadership qualities displayed in it. Even though its basically a biography, it still has that affect to capture your attention in the first few chapters, mainly being able to relate to him growing up, in a way. Throughout the book you can slowly see how this kind of goof off boy with no direction turns into a man and becomes a leader and inevitability becomes the face of the Civil Rights Movement. It's simply amazing reading about this man's will and determination through such adversity. If your looking for something inspirational, Thurgood Marshall American Revolutionary is definitely your book to read.
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9 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Ronald Brown on March 5, 2001
Format: Paperback
I (like many people, I bet) usually think of the civil rights struggle mostly in terms of Martin Luther King and bus boycots. This book tells the story of the legal battles that were mainly lead by Thurgood Marshall leading up to and including Brown vs Board of Ed that ended "separate but equal" and the cases after. The book follows Marshall's life to his appointment to a judgeship, the Solicitor General in LBJ's administration to his time on the Supreme Court. However, I found the time period from post WWII to the 60's as the most interesting. The importance of these legal battles is often forgotten. I guess it took MLK to really turn the nation's hearts, but Thurgood was the one who changed the laws. Williams does not deify Marshall and discusses his shortcomings - he was a heavy drinker, cheated on his wives and he his behaviour would be considered sexual harassment today. I am very glad that I expanded my knowledge of the history of the civil rights struggle by reading this book
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Ryan C. Holiday VINE VOICE on March 1, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Although an informative book, Juan Williams' Thurgood Marshall is an all too common example of a biography where the strength of the subject is forced to shine through weak writing. It is unfortunate that publishers allow the prominence of radio hosts and television pundits almost free reign to chronicle the lives of important historical figures knowing full well that the combination of names will often outweigh the quality of the book.

In this case, Thurgood Marshall is not done justice by Williams. However, considering there are almost no viable alternatives for anyone researching the life of one of the most powerful black man in American history, we must make due.

The chapter on the Justice's political maneuvering - Machiavellian Marshall - is particularly strong and interesting. The period after Marshall graduated from law school but before becoming lead counsel for the NAACP is also a crucial look at the formative part of his legal education. Those, I'm sad to say, are the only parts that really dive into what makes Marshall tick. The reader would be better served by more of them.

American Revolutionary is by no means a fluff piece or a poorly written work. It is however fairly shallow and not the substantive biography that Marshall (and the public) deserve.
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