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Unlikely Heroes [Paperback]

by Jack Bass
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)

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Book Description

May 30, 1990 0817304916 978-0817304911

A vivid account of the implementation of the Brown decision in the South by southern federal judges committed to the rule of law.

Bass's unlikely heroes are the federal judges-primarily those on the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals-who vigorously and skillfully implemented Brown v. Board of Education in six southern states. The rich profiles show the character of the men who gave up prosperous lives, popularity, and friends to see that the constitutional rights of all citizens were protected.


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Editorial Reviews


"I think there has been no more heroic episode in American law than the work of southern federal judges in ending racial discrimination in the South. Jack Bass has brought this recent history to life, telling us much that we had not known."
—Anthony Lewis, New York Times

"Jack Bass has written an important book, . . . The best history of the civil rights movement I've read."
—Joe Cumming Jr., The Atlanta Constitution

About the Author

Jack Bass is Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences at the College of Charleston.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 362 pages
  • Publisher: University Alabama Press (May 30, 1990)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0817304916
  • ISBN-13: 978-0817304911
  • Product Dimensions: 8.6 x 5.6 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #738,814 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant history of turbulent times. June 28, 2000
Jack Bass has written an outstanding history of an often unacknowledged but essential component of the civil rights movement. This book is the story of a group of southern judges appointed to the Court of Appeals with jurisdiction over the deep South during the 1950's and early '60's. While the Supreme Court, led by Chief Earl Warren appropriately got the headlines for their groundbreaking decision in Brown vs Board of Education, the task fell to this Court to wrestle with the meaning of "deliberate speed" and more importantly (and also more of a challenge) to actually implement this decision in their home states.
The Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals of this time period was the greatest collection of talent ever assembled in the history of American jurisprudence. Their story is testimony to their courage, often in the face of social ostracism, threats of physical violence and all manner of disrespect.
The subjects of this work, Judges Richard Rives, John Brown, John Wisdom and Elbert Tuttle are among the most courageous men ever to don the robes and swear to uphold the U.S. Constitution. They were true to the oath they took, and in living up to that affirmation, brought the South, kicking and screaming into the 20th century.
A wonderfully researched work, easily readable for lawyers and normal people. Essential to the complete understanding of the times and the efforts undertaken by those who sought to change them.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Incredible Book March 15, 2003
By Ryan
Through Unlikely Heroes, as well as Taming the Storm, his biography of Alabama federal Judge Frank Johnson, Bass brings to public light the role played by southern judges in the civil rights movement. This book truly does justice to Judges Wisdom, Rives, Tuttle, and Brown for their immense contributions to the civil rights movement. This is a great book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars History of Civil Rights from The Bench August 8, 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Jack Bass is an detailed Southern Historian. In Unlikely Heroes he provides a walk through the Civil Rights movement with a view from the Federal Judge's perspective
who heard and decided the cases.

This book focuses on several judges who was not a household name; judges who sat on the 5th Circuit in the Federal Court system who had a strong "fidelity to the law"

In my opinion this is a must read for law school students, historians, and Social Science high school teachers.

President Eisenhower does not have a strong record on civil rights legislation but the Federal Judges he appointed, in the South, were on the front lines and at the time did more for civil rights than the U. S Congress.

This is an outstanding book
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