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Earl Warren: A Life of Truth and Justice Hardcover – Illustrated, December 15, 2019
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About the Author
- Item Weight : 1.31 pounds
- Hardcover : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 1633885801
- ISBN-13 : 978-1633885806
- Dimensions : 6.43 x 1.12 x 9.43 inches
- Publisher : Prometheus; Illustrated edition (December 15, 2019)
- Reading level : 11 - 17 years
- Language: : English
- Best Sellers Rank: #1,066,362 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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The book is, as are most judicial bios, divided into two parts. Pages 1-128 cover the pre-Supreme Court years; the remainder is devoted to the Warren Court. The author faces the dilemma of all judicial biographers--how to handle the case materials that are essential to the story. The author has developed a unique technique. Some cases, like Brown, Miranda and Reapportionment, he devotes entire chapters to, and especially the Brown chapter is first rate. Other times he does sort of a quick compact analysis, disposing of cases in single paragraphs. This generally is not a book for those looking for detailed legal arguments. Conversely, the fact that many key cases are covered, if even in a compact fashion, allows the general reader to get a sense of what was going on in the Warren Court years., without getting buried in legal technicalities.
One particular strength of the book is that it does the most thorough job I have seen on all the various stages Warren passed through from an uninspired undergrad at Berkeley to become Chief Justice. Every position he held, from state legislature assistant, to Oakland D.A., to Cal AG, to Governor, to becoming a presidential contender, and finally Chief are all dissected minutely which adds to the reader's understanding of how Warren got to the Court. Warren was one of the rare politicians who also is a masterful administrator. During his three terms as Governor, he largely remade the state, and demonstrated how effective use of government could enhance every facet of citizen life.
The book is not always gushing with praise for Warren. The highly effective chapter on the Japanese relocation program, and Warren's role in implementing it, pulls no punches. On the other hand, the book is unstinting in praising his often overlooked leadership of the Warren Commission investigation of the JFK assassination. His ability on several days notice to step in as CJ, not having done any legal work for most of his career, and take control in Brown and other challenging cases is also treated favorably. The general reader soon sees while it truly was the Warren Court and what its significance was.
So I think this is just a perceptive and analytical study of Warren. The 19 pages of notes attest to the author's dedicated research. I once met Warren during a Law Day celebration at U.C. Santa Barbara, while I was in graduate school. To say he was impressive would be a terrible understatement; he was one of the two most awesome individuals (the other being Dean Acheson) I have met; you just knew there was something special about these two guys. This fine book explains why he was so special and important.
The author (Mr. D.J. Herda) attended DePaul University in Chicago and his professional experiences include writing a newspaper column called, "In Focus." He has written dozens of books, including history books about legendary men and women in the American wild west, and several books about justices of the U.S. Supreme Court, and also a couple of books about photography.
After reading the first 75 pages of this book at one sitting, it became apparent to me that Mr. Herda is a good author. Every chapter comprises a variety of different subjects, for example, relating to different locations in California, relating to different people, and relating to different current news events of the day. Despite the fact that each chapter contains this sort of variety, the reader is not left with the impression that the writing is fragmentary or choppy. Instead, when turning page after page after page, it becomes more and more apparent that this author is a skillful weaver of carefully hewn narratives. The reader will likely be surprised by some of the anecdotes that are woven into the literary cloth, such as the fact that the principal of Kern County High School, where Earl Warren attended, was named, C.C. Childress, and that he had the nickname, C-Cubed (see, page 39). Get it? Get it? His nickname was C-Cubed, which refers to the three capital letters C in his name.
The book devotes several pages to Earl Warren's father, METHIAS WARREN, and we read that METHIAS got married in 1886, that METHIAS took correspondence courses in mechanics, and that these courses enabled him to be employed as an automobile mechanic. We learn that METHIAS joined the Railway Union and that he also found jobs working for Santa Fe railroad. We read on page 25 that - - -His parents who were better fixed financially than most of their neighbors [in Bakersfield, CA] splurged in buying books to fuel young Earl Warren's appetite for knowledge.- - - We learn about Earl Warren's early exposure to social issues and to the legal system, for example, we read that while in high school Earl Warren observed the courtroom trial of murderer Al Hultse (page 32). We read of a turning point in Earl Warren's life, in the year 1912, when he attended a speech by progressive Wisconsin Senator Robert La Follette. In later pages, we learn that Earl Warren enlisted for WWI, where his rank was sargent, and that his job was to supervise the barracks, mess hall, and supplies (see, page 54), and eventually he became a bayonet instructor for the U.S. army. Later on, in 1920, Earl Warren got his first lawyer job, and this was in the district attorney's office in Oakland, CA (pages 63-65).