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CHIEF JUSTICE: A Biography of Earl Warren Hardcover – June 3, 1997
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Top Customer Reviews
The reader should know however, that this is not an unbiased book. Cray worships Warren and is very reluctant to criticize him. (The author takes Warren to task over Warren's support of Japanese internment in WWII but I suspect this criticism early on in the book is due to Warren later regret in his involvement.) Among the dedications, is "To Civil Libertarians All"-while there is nothing wrong with that, it points out the author's political bias that is so evident in his writing. Conservatives on the court and in Warren's earlier political life come across badly (especially Felix Frankfurter) and by the end of the book I was cynical as to why Cray constantly referred to Hugo Black as the Alabaman. (Isn't it Alabamian?) None of the other justices were so oft named by the State's origin.
If you love Warren, you'll love this book. If you want an objective and critical look into Warren's life, you might end up frustrated at the author's attempt to over-glorify his subject. Nevertheless, it's still an excellent book.
A strong friend and supporter of JFK (he voted for him in 1960), Earl Warren was deeply shaken by his death. "It was like losing one of my own sons." Ed Cray writes: "Warren personally blamed the radical right and Texas' extremely conservative oil millionaires." Later, he told his son, "I don't know who or what caused this or did the deed, but I sure know where the blame is." He very reluctantly accepted the job of heading President Johnson's Commission to investigate Kennedy's death. In fact, he at first flatly rejected the job, but as Johnson applied his persuasive charms, Warren gave in. In fact, now we know that LBJ told Warren that millions of Americans might be killed in a nuclear war.
Like many liberals who accepted the story that a "Red" had killed the President, and then was killed by a Jewish strip club owner, Warren understood what he was expected to do for the good of the country. I.F. Stone would adopt the same stance. The fear of a new McCarthyism at home and a war with Cuba and the USSR kept many on the Left from investigating the more likely domestic suspects on the Right.
According to Anthony Summers, Warren had been friendly with J. Edgar Hoover; Hoover had run FBI checks on his daughter's boyfriends. But by the time of the Warren Commission investigation, he saw Warren as a nuisance. Hoover wrote in one memo, "If Warren had kept his big mouth shut, these conjectures would not have happened.Read more ›
Unfortunately, Ed Cray doesn't follow up on at least two issues: Warren's friendships with J. Edgar Hoover and William Knowland. According to the book, when Warren was in California state government he became such good friends with J. Edgar Hoover that he called Hoover "Jay"- yet it seems hard to imagine that Warren's friendship with Hoover survived some of his court decisions. Perhaps it did, but Cray doesn't address the issue. Similarly, it seems that Warren's liberal court decisions would have impacted his friendship with conservative Senator William Knowland, but the book doesn't talk about this, either.
The book starts with Warren's childhood, where he was an above-average student who went into the county courtroom every day because it was too hot outside and became entranced with the law. He would go to UC Berkeley for his undergraduate and law degrees, and after a few odd jobs would wind up as the Alameda County DA, where he made a name for himself by cleaning out organized crime, gambling, and prostitution from the county. His work gave him high visibility, from which to launch his campaign for Attorney General of California, where he would be responsible in the infamous forced internment of Japanese and Japanese-Americans after Pearl Harbor (as the author notes, only near the end of his life did he come to terms with this act). Then, as now, State AG was merely a stepping stone to the Governor's Mansion, to which he won three terms. Although a Republican, he pushed for progressive reforms in many areas: he tried to get all Californians covered for healthcare (and failed), he tried to make college in California excellent and inexpensive (and succeeded), and he tried to pass worker safety and environmental protection legislation (and did both).Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Earl Warren was Chief Justice for 16 years, from 1953-69. he presided over Brown v. Board of Education, the most important case in US history. Read morePublished on March 16, 2006 by Radagast the Brown
Earl Warren was one of the greatest Americans of the 20th Century, and Cray's biography does justice for him. Read morePublished on May 9, 2000 by Brian D. Rubendall
This book is really two completely distinctive stories. The first was about Earl Warren's youth and political career as District Attorney in Alameda County, Governor of... Read morePublished on April 4, 2000 by John
Cray has done an admirable job of chronicalling the life and times of one of the most influential and misunderstood men of the 20th Century. Read morePublished on March 18, 2000 by Sam Bethune
Cray does a fine job with this biography and I will be sure to read some of his other books. He presents Warren's life in a factual manner, without judgement, which to me is one... Read morePublished on March 20, 1999
Ed Cray provides a wonderfully clear and insightful depiction of Earl Warren, former Chief Justice of the United States. Read morePublished on January 5, 1999 by email@example.com
Despite the reviews that are included here, this excellent biography has received very little attention from the media. I can't understand why. Read morePublished on July 17, 1997