Archibald Cox: Conscience of a Nation

Ken Gormley, Author, Elliot Richardson, Foreword by
Ken Gormley, Author, Elliot Richardson, Foreword by Perseus Books Group $30 (608p) ISBN 978-0-201-40713-6
Reviewed on: 09/01/1997
Release date: 09/01/1997
Paperback - 608 pages - 978-0-7382-0147-4
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Watergate made Cox a national hero when Richard Nixon fired him as special prosecutor in what became notorious as the Saturday Night Massacre. Yet despite Cox's acclaim for stubborn fairness, Dequesne University law professor Gormley writes, ""he would never... receive the top prizes of his profession. He would remain a footnote in American history."" That Cox is worth more than a footnote is the substance of this admiring biography, which brings to life an essentially private man who personified integrity in public life. Although Watergate dominates the book, Cox was busy before and after it. A public servant--often while on leave from Harvard Law School--he became a major player as John Kennedy's solicitor general with such landmark cases as the one-person one-vote decision. On the occasion when Kennedy borrowed Cox for legislative advice and thanked his Harvard dean ""for your kindness in freeing Professor Cox from his academic duties,"" Dean Griswold shot back: ""It is only because of his great ability and energy that he was able to carry on both duties at the same time."" Avoiding arid legalese, Gormley effectively evokes Cox and his contemporaries. Richardson, who resigned as Nixon's attorney general rather than fire Cox (solicitor general Robert Bork wielded the ax), contributes a preface. (Oct.)
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