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The Judge: The Life and Opinions of Alabama's Frank M. Johnson, Jr. Hardcover – August 1, 2007

4.8 out of 5 stars 9 ratings

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Editorial Reviews


[Judge Johnson’s] first ten years in the Montgomery courtroom coincided with the most tumultuous period of Southern history since the Civil War. This tense and emotional time―the civil rights decade, 1955–65―is the primary focus of Frank Sikora's book. Drawing extensively from interviews with the judge and from court transcripts, he recounts and dramatizes the cases that challenged and finally overturned the segregation laws. Sikora, an Alabama journalist since the mid-1960s, interviewed Judge Johnson on numerous occasions over a thirteen-year period. Roughly one-third of The Judge is in Johnson's own words. ― John Egerton, Southern Changes Magazine

The Judge gives an inside look that blends court transcripts, reporting, and exhaustive oral history interviews with Judge Johnson, originally conducted over the course of years from 1976 to 1989. A no-nonsense look behind the scenes of the courtroom, and a welcome contribution to biography as well as American History shelves. ― Midwest Book Review

While more limited as a character study and legal/historical analysis than Jack Bass's Taming the Storm (reviewed above), this book is a useful complement. Using long stretches of court transcripts and equally long quotes from Johnson, Sikora, a staffer on the Birmingham (Ala.) News, dramatically reconstructs several major cases handled by the Federal Judge, whom former U.S. Supreme Court Justice Brennan considers "a remarkable man and a remarkable judge.'' Sikora describes courtroom arguments regarding the Montgomery bus boycott, Freedom Riders in Montgomery, and, notably, the march Martin Luther King Jr. led in Selma. Sikora presents Johnson as a serious man with a sense of humor and of spirituality, but should have further explored Johnson's distance from standard liberalism: Johnson maintains that Northern liberal whites in the civil rights movement were "sorely misguided,'' personally opposed interracial marriages and by 1984 believed that blacks should compete equally with whites in education. ― Publishers Weekly

About the Author

Frank Sikora, a native of Byesville, Ohio, is a veteran journalist and the author of The Judge: The Life and Opinions of Alabama’s Frank M. Johnson, Jr.; Selma, Lord, Selma; and Until Justice Rolls Down: The Birmingham Church Bombing Case. He is recently retired from the Birmingham News.

Product details

  • Item Weight : 1.31 pounds
  • Hardcover : 320 pages
  • ISBN-10 : 1588381587
  • ISBN-13 : 978-1588381583
  • Product Dimensions : 6.33 x 1.11 x 8.99 inches
  • Publisher : NewSouth Books; 1st Edition (August 1, 2007)
  • Language: : English
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.8 out of 5 stars 9 ratings

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