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The Amateur
The Amateur
by Edward Klein
Edition: Hardcover
Price: $17.51
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Audacity of Hype, August 30, 2012
This review is from: The Amateur (Hardcover)
An election is held while America stands in the shadow of imminent destruction.

The public hears the result and hopes the winner is capable of the impossible: saving America itself.

Even the winner himself believes the hype. After all, didn't he just lose a beloved family member to death itself?

Sound familiar?

It's exactly what happened back in 1853 when Franklin Pierce was elected President. The trusted family member Pierce lost was his own son, on the way to the inaugural festitivities.

While history most pointedly did not repeat itself in terms of the family member lost (Barack Obama has no sons, it was his grandmother who died), it most certainly has repeated itself in terms of producing a failed president, according this page turner.

Like many readers of this book I devoured it in one sitting. In page after compelling page I learned of that "other" Barack Obama, who:

1) Relied on the support of those in the African American community like Oprah Winfrey and Jesse Jackson only to ignore them once he was securely in power;

2) Cultivated the support of the ailing Ted Kennedy (at death's door and suffering from brain cancer) only to ignore the Kennedy family once in power;

3) Captured the overwhelming support of the American Jewish community only to later point an empty sleeve at Isreal implausibly blaming it for delays in securing an Israeli/Palestinian peace accord;

Perhaps worst: 4) Promised "hope" and "change" to countless millions of impoverished Americans only to deliver additional economic woes to them.

Does history repeat itself? Or: Is that even the appropriate metaphor? For his part author Edward Stein doesn't hesitate to quote from Joseph Campbell's Hero With a Thousand Faces generally but pointedly not specifically wherein Campbell talked of "the hero as tyrant" or what happens when the one we invested with our hopes later lets us down (HINT: George Lucas used this reference as inspiration for his Darth Vadar).

For my part the strength of this book isn't for the questions it answers but rather the questions it asks.

And, especially concerning the fact that these questions relate to just how we'll all vote some two months from now, these questions are particularly relevant.

Do yourself a favor and read this book.

Ask and answer for yourself.

Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution
Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions of Evolution
by Nick Lane
Edition: Paperback
Price: $11.54
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Evolution as engineer, August 28, 2012
Courtesy of his first two books, Mitochondria and Oxygen Nick Lane was already firmly established among the top life science writers, in my opinion along with Richard Dawkins and Stephen Gould.

With this book, Lane adds to his happily growing catelogue another entry which is rewarding but often as challenging to understand as life itself.

In this short accessible book Lane attempts to list and describe evolution's ten greatest inventions. In 30 page or so bite size chapters Lane discusses:

The Origin of Life, which sadly is often more a discussion of what we don't know than what we do know.

DNA, which didn't necessarily exist at the beginning.

Photosynthesis a surprisingly complex process.

The complex cell, which comprises the most visible class of creatures on the planet including us.

Sex, ubiquitous among the most visible class of creatures on the planet and in this chapter Lane endeavors to explain just why.

Movement, a process that has some surprising similariites among all creatures on Earth.

Sight interestingly enough a process that Lane says may have originally connected with photosynthesis.

Hot blood a development that allowed some creatures to litterally conquer night and in so doing improve their survival prospects.

Consciousness a process that Lane admits we still know all too little about.

Finally death, which Lane says essentially requires that those candles burning brightest burn the shortest.

For readers interested in more reading on Lane's treatment of origin of life/DNA issues I would suggest his prior book Oxygen as well The Fifth Miracle by University of Adelaide's Paul Davies. For those interested in better understanding Lane's treatment of the complex cell, sex, death and those related issues I would suggest Lane's Mitochondria as well as Richard Dawkins' The Selfish Gene and The Blind Watchmaker. For those interested in his treatment of consciousness I would direct readers to Dan Dennett's Consciousness Explained.

Though this book is indeed short in length do not let its length in words deceive you. Though Lane may be sparse with his verbage that in no way limits the scope of depth of ideas he explores so readers new to this topic may well have to revisit paragraphs in order to make sure they've understood all the author's points.

But like all learning adventures, there is some correlation between investment and return. The more this book takes from you the more it gives back.

O.J. the Last Word
O.J. the Last Word
by Gerry Spence
Edition: Hardcover
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Five star lawyer writes a three star book, August 20, 2012
This review is from: O.J. the Last Word (Hardcover)
If Spence were as good a lawyer as he was a writer then this certainly would have been a five star (at least) book.

As it stands the book both begins and ends with chapters devoted to long winded discussions about race relations and the nature of justice as an abstract concept, both of which deny this book the power it almost certainly would have had had Spence chosen to actually just concentrate his focus on his demonstrated areas of expertise: appraising and evaluating the case as the seasoned trial practitioner he is.

For those readers wishing to focus on this books best chapters I would suggest the following chapters for the following reasons:

Chapter 11: The Iron Shoe. In this chapter Spence discusses how, once she was in command of the prosecution, Marcia Clark endeavored to make the case she argued fit the case SHE HERSELF was best able to argue. In other words, she tried to make the facts fit the "iron shoe" of her particular abilities. For the reason that her abilities did not coincide with what would have been a winning strategy for her, her case suffered. For me this being the first chapter where Spence actually focused on the case instead of grander policy and societal issues, this is where this book effectively began.

Chapter 12: The Blame Card. As can be told from the plethora of books issuing from both the prosecution team and various members of law enforcement (both lead prosecutors Marcia Clark and Chris Darden wrote books as well as Mark Fuhrman the original lead officer as well as his successor investigators), everyone on the prosecution thought the defeat was someone else's fault. In appraising their relative claims Spence names the individual who he considers to be the true guilty party, then Prosecutor Gil Garcetti who Spence says valued political considerations over legal ones (i.e. in not having the case tried outside of LA, not removing Marcia Clark for fear he'd be called sexist etc.).

Chapter 13: The Judge. Unlike Vincent Bugliosi, Clark and Darden, Spence believed that Ito basically led the case as he should have. Just like his chapter 11, Spence's high amount of experience with courts and the justice system makes his observations at least worth considering even if readers ultimately choose to disagree with them.

Chapter 14: The Truth. In this chapter, Spence picks up a topic in earnest largely ignored by the rest of the OJ books: the evidence supporting the claim that Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman were having an affair or at the very least a tryst on the night of the murders. This is not just a matter of prurient interest. As most readers are aware though motive is not a necessary element the prosecution has to show at a murder trial it can certainly help point in the direction of criminal liability. If Goldman wasn't just at Nicole Simpson's residence to deliver glasses and was really there for some romantic purpose this may have provided added fuel, maybe even the necessary fuel to OJ's fire.

Chapter 15: The Knife. As with chapter 14, Spence uses this chapter to provide readers with his own unique insights not otherwise on display in other OJ books. Here Spence uses evidence from the civil trial as well as the criminal trial to suggest that OJ may have gotten rid of the murder weapon, the knife, as well as his kill clothes in a neighbor's trash bin. Ironically, if true this would mean that the very evidence that would convict OJ was litterally hauled away while investigating officers were occupying Rockingham the day after the murders.

Chapter 16: The Frogman. Just like chapters 13, 14, and 15 Spence uses this chapter to enlighten readers on his own theories regarding this case. In this chapter, Spence examines how the murders committed against Nicole Simpson and Ron Goldman were similar to a murder OJ's character committed in an episode of the stillborn TV series The Frogman. This is interesting because readers may recall that Robert Blake was said to have killed his wife also using plot elements from a TV show he starred in.

In the chapters cited, Spence does (albeit barely) keep the promises made on the cover jacket of his hard cover book to provide new evidence of OJ's guilt, say how OJ hid evidence of the murder, provide a new analysis of the jury's verdict, explain why the Clark/Darden team failed to successfully prosecute the murder, give an insider's perspective on Judge Ito and also provide suggestions for a better legal system as well as explain how he Spence would have tried the case (HINT: see chapters 13 through 16)).

Having finished this book I've now only read two out of Spence's many books. However sadly, neither of them much encourages me to read more of his work.

Would that he could write a book the way he tries a case...
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Oct 15, 2015 4:39 PM PDT

My Life
My Life
by Bill Clinton
Edition: Paperback
Price: $18.24
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars THE way to experience this book, August 15, 2012
This review is from: My Life (Paperback)
From my perspective the audio version of this book is THE way to experience it.

For all the legitimate respect Ronald Reagan got for his communication skills, skills he honed through years of screen acting, often times I think it's easy to forget that Clinton was able to develop much the same skill set through years of just being on the stage of politics.

Whether you're a Clinton fan or not, I think listeners will have to concede the strength of the easy going conversational style he uses to tell his life story.

And, interestingly enough, that easy going style often hides the very great sophistication that Clinton brought to bear as he faced his various life challenges on his way up the political ladder.

Predictably enough Clinton starts the story at the beginning telling listeners (or readers if they bought the book version) just why he never met his actual father. He talks about his mother and his relationship with his step father and his half brother. He also talks about meeting Hillary and their early years together which started just about the time Clinton started his political life.

Whether you like him or not I think most listeners (or again readers depending on how they're acquainting themselves with this material) will like Clinton's easy sense of humor, including even himself when he tells some of these stories. In this regard I liked where he talked about his first political race -- for Congress in 1974, the year Richard Nixon resigned -- when he was one of the few Democrats to actually lose to a Republican.

After that loss of course Cliton almost always won, serving as Arkansas Attorney General from 1977 to 1979 and later as governor from 1979 until he became President (the sole exception being 1981 to 1983 when he was briefly booted from office after the Reagan landslide of that year).

As President Clinton takes us through HIS VERSION of the ups and downs of his presidency including everything from his quixotic attempts to obtain peace in the middle east to his equally quixotic attempts to evade the cluthes of his various persecutors. As he rightly points out, his years in office were characterized by a unique period of economic upturn (which ironically may have enabled his opponents to make issues out of matters that may not have otherwise captured the public imagination). As he also rightly points out, he was the first president since James Monroe in 1822 to actually have his party gain seats in the sixth year he was in office.

Like all political biography it of course has no shortage of spin but again largely thanks to his homey style of presentation it's certainly entertaining spin and therefore worthy of a listen or a read.

Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Warner Books)
Orders to Kill: The Truth Behind the Murder of Martin Luther King, Jr. (Warner Books)
by William Pepper
Edition: Paperback
37 used & new from $1.39

16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What the King family wants you to know about his death, August 15, 2012
This very informative book starts with an introduction by Dexter King, son to Martin Luther King Jr. supporting author/attorney Wiliam Pepper's contention that this book tells the story of why his father died.

In his typically detailed fashion (also on display in Pepper's more recent Act of State) Pepper extensively supports his theories that:

1) James Earl Ray did NOT kill Martin Luther King Jr.

2) That the killing was rather the culmination of a conspiracy by the CIA, the FBI, organized crime, local Memphis law enforcement and others to eliminate King as a potential rival political leader to then President Lyndon Johnson, and

3) That the data supporting these claims includes the following:

a) A failure on the part of ballistics testing to match the gun possessed by Ray as being the actual murder weapon. Subsequent ballistics testing showed that this weapon had a unique charactistic where it would super heat and thereby cause melting to the bullets in a way which frustrate traditional matching attempts.

b) Claims by Ray himself that he was not guilty and that he was an innocent patsy brought to Memphis at the discretion of one Raul (Ray's sort of "one armed man") whok had been in contact with Ray for about a year prior to the killing. It's Rays contention that Raul would periodically give Ray assignments and then pay him in cash for performing those assignments including ultimately the purchase of the weapon police said was used by him to kill King.

c) Evidence that Raul did indeed exist and was linked to corrupt law enforcement in New Orleans.

d) Evidence provided by one Lloyd Jowers the owner of Jim's Grille, a dubious eating establishment located proximate to the Lorraine Motel where King was standing when he was shot. Jowers told Pepper that he had been involved in the plot to kill King and even later named a Memphis police officer, one Earl Clark as being the actual triggerman.

Unlike other conspiracy theories this one has the added currency of being the basis of not but two court victories on the part of its proponent. The first of these victories was a television trial wherein James Earl Ray was acquitted, albeit only on TV but still against a reputable prosecutor and featuring actual evidence from the original case itself. The other in court victory was a civil suit by the King estate against Lloyd Jowers seeking nominal damages (100 payable by Jowers to the King family for funeral expenses) and also a finding by the court that Jowers was indeed part of a larger conspiracy.

What's more other evidence has more than amply corroborated long term surveillance by the FBI throughout the 60s including many dirty tricks played by that selfsame organization.

From my perspective, one of the many ways in which those claiming a respect for the King legacy can show a true respect for that legacy is at least understanding his family's take on why he really died.

The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X, Ossie Davis (Afterword), Alex Haley (As Told to)
The Autobiography of Malcolm X by Malcolm X, Ossie Davis (Afterword), Alex Haley (As Told to)
by J.K
Edition: Perfect Paperback
29 used & new from $2.87

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Peace be upon him, August 1, 2012
In Islam, the blessing "peace be upon him" is supposed to used for prophets of Islam other than Muhammed (for whom the phrase is "may Allah honor him and grant him peace"), however practising Moslems will often use the phrase for any dearly departed relative or friend.

What may amaze many who remember Malcolm X from some of his more vitriolic statements is the vast number of people who would remember Malcolm X with those words. Reading this book, the product of over two years of interviews between Malcolm X and Alex Haley (who also authored the mega sensation Roots), may help readers to better understand Malcolm X and just why he came to be so loved.

Born Malcolm Little in 1925 the future civil rights leader was not surprisingly the child of a man who himself had been a civil rights leader of sorts, Baptist lay speaker Earl Little. Little senior had been an ardent supporter of Marcus Garvey. For readers unfamiliar with that name Garvey (1887 to 1940) was a Jamaican who came to the United States and came to preach Pan Africanism. Because of his efforts he was charged and later deported on trumped up accusations of criminal wrong doing when in reality all that was desired was silencing him. As his son would come to do later in life, the senior Little preached black pride. And as his son would later die in violence, the senior Little himself died in violence. This occured when the young Malcolm was six. Because Little had been the provider for his family the family suffered great financial deprivations. Like everything else about his young life these deprivations are ably recounted giving a picture of a young Malcolm learning early on to do what was necessary to make ends meet.

A gifted student Malcolm rose to the top of his class in terms of academic performance. He was even elected class president. However racism repeatedly worked against him. White courts repeatedly intervened in the Little household eventually dispersing the children into different residences. And sadly, when young Malcolm tried to share his dream of becoming a lawyer with a white teacher that teacher discouraged Malcolm not because of his academic ability but because he was black.

Thereafter Malcolm went to live with Ella Little Collins a half sister just outside Boston. Though Ella would remain a positive stabilizing influence throughout Malcolm's life (even funding his eventual trip to Mecca) Malcolm allowed himself a reckless youth, becoming invovled in drugs and crime. In this way Haley not only told the story as it really was but gave this book the character arc that would help contribute to its power as a literary achievement. Like St. Augustine who had preceded him, Malcolm (Augustine was famous for his prayer "grant me chastity and continence but not yet") drank deeply of the seemy side of life before making the choice to eschew it.

As told in this book Malcolm made his choice to become Moslem after he was incarcerated in 1946. In prison, Malcolm made ample use of the prison library and also started a corresponding relationship with Elijah Muhammed the founder of the Nation of Islam. On his release from prison Malcolm who adopted the name Malcolm X because it reflected his uncertainty about his true last name became active in Nation of Islam work. With his assistance the young movement grew from 400 to over 40,000 (according to numbers provided by Malcolm X himself). In the Nation of Islam Malcolm X gained a national following for his willingless to clearly state the reasons for racial problems in the United States.

As indicated at the outset of this review, many however were most familiar with Malcolm X for making vitriolic statements. Many took these statements as evidence of hatred for white people. From 1963 forward however Malcolm X's ideology went through a change. On the one hand he was osctrasized from the Nation of Islam (its founder had grown jealous of Malcolm X's public following) and on the other hand Malcolm X began to learn what true Islam said about race relations and the brotherhood of man. This was dramatically demonstrated in this book where Haley showed Malcolm X going to Mecca and seeing whites among Islams followers.

Sadly this visit to Mecca occured just before Malcolm X's death by assasination on February 21 1965 leaving readers to wonder just what he would have done had he lived longer.

This is an unusually good book, better than biographies usually are, that stays with readers long after its been read and put back in the bookshelf.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 22, 2016 6:04 PM PST

Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution
Citizens: A Chronicle of the French Revolution
by Simon Schama
Edition: Paperback
Price: $20.59
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars From before the Bastille and beyond the beheadings, July 30, 2012
Viewers who first met Cambridge and Harvard's Simon Schama through his televised History of Britain will not be disappointed with this detailed take on the French Revolution.

As alluded in my title, this masterwork takes readers from before the Bastille and beyond the beheadings in its coverage of the years 1789 through 1794 (just before the Directory). In painstaking detail Schama supports his main argument that the French Revolution did not start but from the bottom up but rather as a dispute among the elite of France itself on how best to reinvigorate the state. It was oddly therefore the heartfelt and passionate nature of the beliefs among the disputants that helped the Revolution in the end become so bloody.

Prospective readers of this book should be forewarned though. Schama's eye for detail is extreme and often effects the flow his prose. By way of illustration I have extracted a sample paragraph which best illustrates my point. It discusses events from when King Louis XVI had finally summoned an a special counsel, albeit one short of the Estates General that was being popularly requested, to seek formal approval of new levies he sought in order to balance the French budget. It can be found at page 267 of the hard cover text and reads as follows:

"After a long day of rambling speeches it seemed likely that the Parlement would in fact register the new edicts. But a completely unpremeditated turn of events shattered the growing consensus. The King himself, perhaps irritated by repeated calls for the Estates General to be summoned earlier than 1792, was determined to avoid a vote and ordered the registration of the edicts. He had, in effect, impulsively converted the more informal seance royal into a coerced lit justice. The response of this brusque proceeding was an appalled silence, finally broken from the unlikeliest quarter. The King's cousin Philip, Duc d'Orleans, got to his feet. This was, to say the least, unexpected. The entire royal family -- Burbon, Conde, Orleans (the Condi excepted) were famous for their conspicous inability to articulate anything in public that was prescribed by ceremony. Artois, who could fulminate impressively in private several times struggled to defend the royal will in the Cour des Pairs but invariably collapsed either into stuttering incoherence or sulky silence. Orleans, the great proprietor patron of the Palais Royal, liked to surround himself with wits and intellects. The teams of literary drones (including Mirabeau and Choderlos de Laclos) who all produced polemics on his behalf gave Orleans an undeserved reputation for political outspokenness. But his intervention on November 19 was nonetheless an immense shock to detractors and admirers alike. Turning directly to the King he remarked, 'Sire, I beg Your Majesty to allow me to place at your feet and in the heart of the this court [the view] that I consider this registration illegal.'"

I myself am no slouch as a reader of history, having read hundreds of history books. I have both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Yet I must confess that even I myself hit this paragraph like a fly against a windshield, at least temporarily flattened in my ability to appreciate all its ramifications. Only on successive re readings was I able to absorb (probably honestly only some) of the layered messages Schama was communicating here. Though I only quoted one paragraph that exhibits this degree of nuanced detail prospective readers should be aware that this book is simply marbled with them.

Though it may a thing of taste, for every paragraph rich in confusing detail there are others more numerous where Schama used his eye for detail to artistically support his narrative. Unlike the previous category where the detail confounds readers into a more deliberative contemplation of the text, this category moves the story forward in a way that's more comfortable. As an illustration of this category I am including a quote from page 614 of Schama's text where the royal family stand by while they await a deliberation of their fate:

"Once in the Manege, where a handful of deputies remained simply to preempt accusations that the Sovereign Nation was no long constituted, the King was left waiting while a place was found for him and his family compatible with the prohibition on his presence during debates. Together with his Elisabeth, Marie-Antoinette and their children, they were finally ushered into a little caged space of the Logographie assigned to reporters recording the proceedings. Inside this stuffy little hole, their faces shadowed by cell like grille, what was left of the French monarchy waited, helplessly, on its fate."

For me this text did more than to merely record the event. It gave it that thing that history writing can all too often lack, a sense of mood. It's because Schama was able to accomplish this later objective so consistently that I happily opted to give this book five stars.

However, readers should be advised that this not merely a great book but rather a great book that requires great concentration on the part of its readers.

The Chosen (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
The Chosen (Ballantine Reader's Circle)
by Chaim Potok
Edition: Paperback
Price: $12.09
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5.0 out of 5 stars Friendship...a bridge between differences, July 9, 2012
On its surface The Chosen is the story of a friendship between two Jewish boys growing up in Brooklyn New York circa 1945.

They meet at a baseball game where they're on rival teams. The competition to win is stiff. As a result of that competition the more religous one Danny Saunders bats a ball directly at the less religous one Reuven Malther and injurs him. As a result of his guilt Saunders goes to the hospital to try and attone and much to his surprise Reuven discovers actually likes Danny. With Reuven's father's support, a friendship forms between the two. Then we get a very good insider's view of life among the Hasidim (Orthodox Jews) of Brooklyn around the time of the end of World War II and the birth of the State of Israel.

Like I said those elements form the ostensible story told by Rabbi Potok. However, beneath those ostensible elements is much richer detail as the boys share their experiences and discuss their relationships with their fathers. Just like in Fiddler on the Roof you find yourself soon forgetting "all the Jewish stuff" and soon concentrating only the human story being told.

Because of that human story this book was a rightful best seller and remains a rightful classic. It's well worth the read and highly recommended.

No Title Available

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Intrigue"ing!, July 6, 2012
Flush with his early successes (in my opinion including most notably his immortal Exodus) Leon Uris responded to the popularity of then new James Bond movies with this tale of intrigue.

Featuring the daper Andre Deveraux, essentially a French James Bond, Uris simultaneously told the story of the Cuban missile crisis and also Deveraux's battle with secret Communist elements in the French government.

Like his James Bond doppleganger Deveraux goes to exotic places to engage in espionage. And like his James Bond doppleganger Deveraux performs his job taking frequent breaks to "love the lovely ladies."

For my part the strength of this book isn't so much in when it's telling Deveraux's story (though that part of course is fun), it's more interesting with it's supposed B stories including the story of a prominent Russian defector and his family.

If you only read one Leon Uris book you should probably read either Exodus or maybe even The Haj but this one is still fun and worth the read.

The Story Of My Life
The Story Of My Life
by Alan M. Dershowitz
Edition: Paperback
Price: $16.27
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great attorney!, July 3, 2012
This review is from: The Story Of My Life (Paperback)
They say evey person is actually three people: the person they think they are, the person others think they are and who they really are.

In this age of verite paramount interest of course now focuses on the last of these issues: who someone really is. In the case of an individual like Clarence Darrow, describing who they really are is a confounding task because so much legend has accrued around them.

For those wishing a more conventional biography that probably more directly answers these issues I would direct them to Irving Stone's very excellent Clarence Darrow for the Defense which chronologically traces the arc of Darrow's life and easily brings readers along on a step by step journey through Mr. Darrow's successes and failures. In fact, I would probably even suggest reading that one before this one because Darrow only covers certain highlights of his life and then only sometimes in off hand ways.

Two great cases in point of this off hand quality of this work can found when Mr. Darrow discusses the Leopold and Loeb and Scopes Monkey Trial cases. Experienced litigators may turn to these pages hoping to find a thorough discussion of tactics. Lay readers on the other hand may come to these pages hoping to find some sort of framing discussion so they can better understand why Darrow did what he did. In the case of Leopold and Loeb Darrow acted to save two cold blooded murderers from death row despite their brutal killing of a little boy. In the case of Scopes Monkey Darrow lampooned traditional religion as well as a particular law that over zealous religion gave rise to. In neither case however does Darrow take readers past what they'd get in a more cursory treatment from pretty much any other source.

Other examples of the off hand quality of this work can be found in several chapters which are nothing more than repeats of stump speeches Mr. Darrow gave on various pet issues he had throughout his life.

To be sure, this book does contain some rare nuggets like where he talks about meeting H.G. Wells. However even these nuggets only manage to tantalize. By way of illustration in the case of Wells his entire treatment of the meeting lasts only a few sentences and doesn't really give you any insight into what transpired during this interesting meeting. Another nugget is Darrow's treatment of the Ossian Sweet case. As Darrow says in this book, the Ossian Sweet case occured in 1926 when an African American family moved into a white Detroit neighborhood. Despite the fact that new home owner Ossian Sweet was a doctor local whites still rallied to violently evict Sweet and his family by force in action that was unopposed by the Detroit police. In landmark victory Darrow won a not guilty verdict and established the principle that a man's home is his castle regardless of the skin color of that man. Darrow's treatment of this case is a rare example of where he provides full descriptions of the story behind the story.

This all being said of course this is still a book by Clarence Darrow attempting to explain himself to others and therefore still worth the read. Where Darrow fails is not necessarily a fault on Darrow's part but rather a dramatic demonstration of hard the task of biography writing can be.

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