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Woman Lawyer: The Trials of Clara Foltz Hardcover – January 5, 2011
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"[T]his is a magnificent book establishing Clara Foltz's foundational work for women's employment rights, female suffrage, and the public defender's office."Gordon Bakken, H-Net Reviews
"Barbara Babcock is one of our leading legal historians. Woman Lawyer gives voice to Clara Foltz's long and fascinating life, making vivid her important contributions as a reformer, 'first' woman lawyer, and legal thinker. It will establish itself as a classic in legal studies, women's studies, and American biography."Jill Norgren, City University of New York
"Beautifully written and meticulously researched, Woman Lawyer provides a riveting portrait of a remarkable woman and her journey as a mother of five to becoming one of the first women lawyers in United States. Yet even more memorable is this book's evocation of another frontier: California on the brink of its modern identity, forged in the middle of an economic challenge and intense racial and class conflict. Unflinching in its assessment of the temptations of demagoguery to the pioneering Clara Foltz, Barbara Babcock has produced a compelling book of enormous and enduring insight into how even gifted and visionary individuals navigate, shape, and reflect political and social contests."Martha Minow, Dean of Harvard Law School
"Barbara Babcock's wonderful book only reinforces my view that being a public defender has been the most rewarding part of my professional career. Clara Foltz is my hero, and this book chronicles the challenges and achievements of perhaps the greatest public defender ever." Charles Ogletree, Harvard Law School
"In her engrossing new book, Woman Lawyer: The Trials of Clara Foltz, Barbara Babcock acknowledges that, for her, full detachment from her courageous, charismatic subjectCalifornia's first woman lawyeris not possible. In fact, full detachment from Clara Foltz is not possible for any of her 'daughters in the law,' and beyond the law. Foltz's struggles to gain a foothold in several all-male worlds, powerfully told, connect to so many of us, across the nation and across the centuries."Judith S. Kaye, Chief Judge of the State of New York"
"Barbara Babcock conjures and brings to life a nearly-forgotten feminist hero. This account of Clara Foltz's rise from an under-educated farmer's wife to an icon of the California women's movement and a national public intellectual is both riveting and strangely familiar. That a single mother of five could have exploded into the hurly-burly world of California in the 1870s andthrough mastery of the media, manipulation of her public image, and dogged hard workbecome a national force for early progressive jurisprudence is astonishing. That women in 2011 could have no collective memory of Foltz is tragic. Babcock brings Foltz back to us with great tenderness and subtlety, reclaiming a place in American legal history for a working mother and national thinker who has much to teach us still."Dahlia Lithwick, Senior Editor, Slate
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Top Customer Reviews
Anyone interested in legal history, in women's rights, or in the dawn of American consciousness about the importance of providing legal representation to the poor will enjoy this engaging and brilliantly documented account of Foltz's colorful career. Along the way, they also will learn much about California history and the rise of the west coast as a center of intellectual and cultural innovation and growth.
A "first woman" herself --Babcock has been a path-breaker in her own professional career --the author brings Foltz to life as a complex, compelling human being. Her victories, her disappointments, and her boundless hope all are part of this lovely portrait of an activist who wanted equal rights for all --including for herself in a profession that saw women's role as hearth and home, not bench and bar.
The book also is an excellent account of constitutional and practical arguments for effective assistance of counsel that are as relevant today as they were in the 1870s.
This book is so well written by Barbara Babcock who herself, rivals Clara's career path to be the first woman in a few modern categories.
A must read!
One story I remember is that Clara was part of the opening ceremonies for the Lincoln Tunnel from Newark to Manhattan. My dad sat in the front of the limousine with the chauffeur and so always claimed to have been the first person through the tunnel (along with the chauffeur of course).
(The portrait of Clara that may be hanging in the courthouse in LA was done by my father (BFA, Yale).)
This is a must read. As I anticipated, Babcock tells the story with clarity and honesty. Very engaging!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've known a bit about Clara Foltz for many years, since I am a graduate of Hastings College of the Law (which Clara sued to require the admission of women in 1878), and the women... Read morePublished 2 months ago by Leslie
This book is incredibly interesting and entertaining. If you are interested in biographies about brave people who actually changed public opinion for the better and created... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Kimberly Whitmore
Clara Foltz was unique; she was intelligent and outspoken in a era where women were severely penalized for being either. Read morePublished on April 9, 2014 by Kay H. in L.A.
Professor Babcock's interview on "Woman Lawyer: The Trials of Clara Foltz" ran as the Rorotoko Cover Feature on January 26, 2011 (and can be read in the Rorotoko archive).Published on October 6, 2011 by ROROTOKO