Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense Audio CD – Audiobook, May 21, 2019
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[The case] cemented Lincoln's image as a courtroom star-and Abrams and Fisher have made the most of their material, polishing a musty transcript into an entertaining slice of life.-- "USA Today on Lincoln's Last Trial"
Captivating... If you love legal thrillers, this is your book!-- "Kimberly Guilfoyle, author of Making the Case, on Lincoln's Last Trial"
Dan Abrams and David Fisher write the heart-pounding pulse of history...This book not only brings a rare transcript to life, it makes you feel as if you are watching a live camera riveted on a courtroom more than 150 years ago.-- "Diane Sawyer on Lincoln's Last Trial"
About the Author
Dan Abrams is the CEO and founder of Abrams Media and chief legal affairs anchor for ABC News. He is also the host of both 60 Days In and Live PD on A&E. A graduate of Columbia University Law School, he is the author of the Washington Post bestseller Man Down and has written for the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, Newsweek, and the Yale Law and Policy Review, among many others. He lives in New York.
David Fisher is the author or coauthor of more than seventy books, including eighteen New York Times bestsellers.
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Roosevelt’s rise to power is like trajectory of a rocket. In effect, he was a naturalist, a writer, a lover, a hunter, a ranchman, a soldier, a Nobel Prize winner, and a politician; at the age of forty-two he was the youngest President in American history. He came as a progressive reformer and then committed himself to deep reform in the Bull Moose campaign of 1912. During his life, he chased thieves across the Badlands of North Dakota, and he was a night-stalking police commissioner in New York City. As assistant secretary of the navy under President McKinley, he almost single-handedly brought about the Spanish-American War. After leading “Roosevelt’s Rough Riders” in the famous charge up San Juan Hill, Cuba, he returned home a military hero, and was rewarded with the governorship of New York. Despite all his achievements and monumental contributions in the service of the nation, he was humbled at the end of the trial. The president’s life is a great inspiration and the authors have
If not the trial of the century, it ranked right up there with the most important trials of American history. At its core was the very definition of what American democracy was and should be. Roosevelt, in an article that became widely published and was at the heart of the claim of libel, claimed that the party bosses, elected by no one and accountable only to the moneyed class that gave them power and wealth (given to both parties by the same people, as remains the current custom), colluded to deny the interests of the citizens at large in favor of their own power and fortune.
That, however, by definition, would seem to suggest, despite Roosevelt ultimately being found innocent, to deny the trial the status of a turning point in American jurisprudence or political history. For, it is obvious to even the most casual observer, nothing has really changed. The bosses of the era may have morphed into the politicians, the lobbyists, and the rich themselves (”This brought to the courtroom an unpleasant truth about American politics; the moneyed interests used their money to protect those interests.”), but there is little question that money is what makes the wheels of government turn and they turn primarily, if not exclusively, to protect the interests of the moneyed class that once supported the bosses and their machines and now protect the politicians – without shame, for the most part - openly and without apology or embarrassment.
Theodore Roosevelt was a fascinating man and in this book, Dan Abrams brings out both the greatness and the humanity; the virtue and the contradictions. And like his distant cousin and in-law who would occupy the oval office at an equally crucial time in American history, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, I do believe that the Colonel had the best interests of the common man in his heart in everything he did. Oh how I wish we could somehow bring him back, desperate as we are for such willingness to put the ideals of our nation above the individual thirst for power.
Beyond its value as a book of legal and political history, this is a book about language. Language, after all, does not occur naturally, like oxygen or the rivers. It is of human origin, an artificial convention created to make communication more efficient and effective. As a result, however, language is, by definition, highly imprecise, which is why we have lawyers and courtrooms – and poets. The plaintiff, the defendant, and all of the lawyers who represent them, in addition to the judge himself, are all gifted in the art of language and its power. And that, itself, to me, was both fascinating and entertaining. I adore and respect language. (Which is one of the reasons I write so many reviews, of course.)
There is a lot of history here. I grew up very close to Syracuse, where the trial took place, and learned a great many things about the trial and the area that I had never known before. In the end, however, I gave it a three as a kind of trigger warning, as much as I don’t believe in that concept in general.
If you are a lawyer you should read this book to hone your skills. If you are a historian you should read this book for its well-written insight into an important man and an important period (pre-World War I) in American history. And if you are a law student ordered to read this by your professor, well, it doesn’t matter, you have to read it.
If, however, you are just looking for a light, entertaining read; say, a mystery or a love story, you will not find it here. But you must decide who you are and why you read.
I will tell you this. As an author myself, I long ago committed to seeing every book I begin to read through to the finish. I believe we owe it to the author for their hard work and there are many a book which makes its mark in the final chapters. And I did fulfill my commitment to that pledge in this case (and I didn’t skim) and am glad I did.
If only the world had really changed and money no longer compromised (i.e. COMPROMISED) our politics to the extent it does. Rest in Peace, Colonel.
There than follows page after page of recorded court room dialogue among the parties and the numerous witnesses called by either side. I found this exceedingly boring. The details of the court room proceeding may have interesting in 1915 but scarcely so to day. There also a number of discussions on the fie points of the applicable law. of interest to the litigants
and possibly to those readers who are attorneys. Meanwhile the trial was proceedings against the on coming of World War I There also discussions of the state and local politics of New York. The book contains numerous photos. The jury found for Roosevelt. A dramatis personae of all the persons connected with trial would have been hek]lpfull
This is more a book for lawyers than general readers.
Top international reviews
The authors have meticulously researched the trial of Barnes v. Roosevelt, held in Syracuse, relying on contemporary news reports, correspondence, and especially on trial transcripts. They give a detailed account of what took place during the five week trial, introducing the reader to the litigants, the lawyers, the trial judge, the jury and the witnesses, among the latter group including the defendant's cousin, future President Franklin Roosevelt. They also set the mood in the community at the time as well as in the nation, which had not yet entered the ongoing world war that was raging overseas.
The authors also carefully explain the legal nuances of the trial process, including the history behind the rules of evidence and procedure, as well as substantive law in cases of libel. They also discuss the legal and political strategies that intersected at the trial, as well as how the presiding judge sought to keep the jury from letting their personal allegiances (political and ancestral) cause them to stray from their sworn duty to follow the law. The trial contained some very technical legal issues, including what use the jury could and couldn't make of certain pieces of evidence about sketchy dealings on the part of the plaintiff Barnes. It was a trial filled to the brim with objections and with some of the witnesses called to the stand more than once. The authors work very hard to provide the reader with a play-by-play of not only what took place, buy why as well.
A libel trial does not have the same sense of drama as a criminal trial, and for this reason parts of the book seem to lag as the authors maintain their fidelity to providing a description of what took place, including the mundane as well as the exciting. They excel in painting a picture of the litigants: the energetic Roosevelt struggling to contain his exuberance while remaining at the center of attention, and the smug and crafty Barnes, whose cross-examination was likened to trying to nail jello to a wall.
This is a book that will especially appeal to those with an interest in trials and in courtroom proceedings. It is a tale of egos and politics, of populism and the political establishment. A minor criticism is that the authors constantly refer to the ex-president as "Teddy", a moniker that Roosevelt detested and that those close to him never used. That small nit-picking aside, this book's appeal will be stronger to some readers than to others, but it is certainly a worthwhile read for those with an interest in the life and times of Theodore Roosevelt.