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Comment: There is a name written in pencil on the front inside cover. The dust jacket and rest of the book are in excellent shape.
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Carl Maxey: A Fighting Life (V. Ethel Willis White Books) Hardcover – June 24, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 13 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A well-written biography ... sympathetic but not fawning. The state has changed ... this is the story of one man who helped change it."
--Bruce Ramsey, Seattle Times

"Well-constructed ...  we finish the book feeling that we have just met someone personally. A fitting tribute to a controversial ground breaker in our state's history." --Robert H. Keller, Columbia, The Magazine of Northwest History

"In Kershner's fascinating and engaging biography, Maxey comes alive as a dynamic force, both in the courtroom and in the ring." --Catherine Hinchliff, HistoryLink.org, The Online Encyclopedia of Washington State History

"As with any well-constructed biography, we finish the book feeling that we have just met someone personally. Carl Maxey: A Fighting Life is a fitting tribute to a controversial ground breaker in our state's history. Today it is actually much more than that. It stands as evidence testifying to the hard road traveled by many African Americans and thus a tribute to the recent accomplishment of our 44th president."―Columbia

"Kershner uses the story of Maxey's life to show the barriers that African Americans faced in Spokane, even though the city was not in the South and could pride itself in having no segregation laws. . .The state has changed since then. This book is the story of one man who helped change it."―Seattle Times

"Reads like a modern Dickens tale."―Law & Politic, Summer 2009

Review

"An essential biography of one city's civil rights hero, wonderfully written and impeccably researched. . . . Carl Maxey was a man whose complicated life transcended its own gripping details to mirror a turbulent time in our recent history, a time when it seemed as if race and justice would forever run on separate tracks."―Jess Walter, author of The Zero

"Jim Kershner's biography of activist Carl Maxey is not only inspirational and informative, but because it is so well written it is also a pleasure to read."―Carlos Schwantes, University of Missouri―St. Louis

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Product Details

  • Series: V. Ethel Willis White Books
  • Hardcover: 288 pages
  • Publisher: University of Washington Press; First Edition edition (June 24, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0295988460
  • ISBN-13: 978-0295988467
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,016,313 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Jim Kershner has used his considerable skills as a reporter to write a fascinating biography of Carl Maxey, one of the most charismatic personalities to come out of Washington State and Spokane. But the book should be of interest to readers well beyond the borders of the state of Washington. I would be very surprised if a copy of this book does not end up in many personal libraries and just about every law office in Washington State if not the entire nation. It reads much like a front-page story that just keeps getting more and more absorbing as the text continues on for almost 250 pages.

Carl Maxey, having been born to an unwed mother, and having been placed in an orphanage in Spokane eventually worked his way up to becoming a competitive athlete, a national collegiate boxing champion, a college graduate, and the first black lawyer in Spokane. His practice led him to appear in some of the most high-profile murder, anti-Vietnam War, and civil rights cases in Washington state. In 1970 he challenged Henry "Scoop" Jackson for the Democratic Party nomination for the U.S. Senate. In 1976 he was on the Washington State ballot for president as Senator Eugene McCarthy's stand in vice presidential candidate. He remained a fighter for civil rights and social justice until his death in 1997.

Kershner, in doing research for the book, utilized numerous newspaper sources, library records, personal papers and interviews with thirty Maxey family members and people who worked with him. Still, because he was so well known and came into contact with so many people, there are undoubtedly hundreds of people in Spokane and elsewhere who, when they read the book, feel, "Oh man, I wish Kershner had interviewed me I would have told him about ..."
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Format: Hardcover
I had the good fortune to have a friendship with Carl and Lou back in the late 70's and early '80's. This biography and accompanying photos reminded me of lively dinners, great conversations and parties at "F" Street. The author accurately portrays the Carl I knew. He loved to tell his story, but he equally liked to hear what you had to say, especially if it was laced with humor. The only way this book could have been more expansive is if it had been written by someone who knew him, but the author has done a good job of capturing Carl, his family and the times that he endured and helped to shape.
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Format: Hardcover
Thank you, Jim Kershner, for writing down the life of Carl Maxey while some of us who remember him are still around. This book is a nostalgic read for old liberals like me who knew and loved him during the Civil Rights and Anti-War movements of the sixties and seventies. It is the story of a man of the highest principles. Young people have too few heroes like Carl to serve as inspiration. He overcame incredible odds as a child and spent his life working to protect the weakest and most vulnerable among us.
Much more could be written about Maxey. Kershner has only tapped the surface as far as interviewing the people who knew Carl Maxey, but I am grateful that he has provided this written account of a remarkable life. It is an important and accurate glimpse into an important time in our nation's history.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Jim Kershner writes a riveting story of Carl Maxey who literally fought his way out of the depths of poverty to become a champion of civil rights and Anti war protests. An African American who practiced in a predominately conservative, white town, Maxey left a huge footprint on the city of Spokane, from challenging "Blue Laws" to fighting segregation. Kershner presents a well rounded picture of Maxey, from his days in a scandal ridden orphan home through his career as an outstanding collegiate boxer at Gonzaga, on to his Anti War candidacy for US Senate. Kershner succeeds in showing that this man who achieved greatness was also a troubled man with many faults. A must read for anyone wanting to read about the turbulent sixties or Northwest political history.
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By lms12202 on September 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
If this review were about the man in the story, it would be five stars. Mr. Maxey did more from nowhere than any other person to fight social injustice. The book, however, is flawed because it saves Mr. Maxey's famous temper until later in the book, making it sound like Mr. Maxey was a calm person until later in his career.

Mr. Maxey's death points out that social injustice and degradation can haunt a very significantly successful person, even to the end of their life. His death should be a reminder to all of us that hateful words inflict pain for a lifetime.
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Format: Hardcover
Carl Maxey: A Fighting Life (V Ethel Willis White Books)

Carl Maxey grew up as an essential orphan. He was at one point kicked out of an orphanage for being black. Despite his Dickensian upbringing, Maxey went on to graduate from the Gonzaga Law School and become Eastern Washington's first black lawyer. In his second to last year in school, he was also the national NCAA boxing champion. This man single-handedly integrated much of Spokane and is one of the most dynamic, interesting figures of Washington state.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Jim Kershner did a great job writing this book and he labored long and hard in his research. I had the pleasure of knowing Carl personally for many years and working for him for 14 years up to the day he passed away. He did so many wonderful things and reached out to help so many people in Spokane. He was also a person people loved to hate because he was a fierce adversary in the courtroom and stood up for the under privileged. What many people do not know about him is the kindness and generosity of the man. I loved the book; it made me cry and I will never agree with the ending as I am certain Carl did not end his own life. I will always know it was a tragic accident. RIP Carl, I still hear your laughter!
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