Clarence Darrow: American Iconoclast

Andrew E. Kersten, Hill and Wang, $28 (320p) ISBN 978-0-8090-9486-8
Relating the life of one of America's most progressive lawyers, Clarence Darrow (1857–1938), Kersten (Race, Jobs, and the War; Politics and Progress) portrays the "Old Lion" as a socially conscious maverick full of contradictions. Born of solid rural Midwestern stock, Darrow started as a real estate, insurance, and collections agent, until his calm, rational style as a lawyer elevated him to prominence. When he moved to Chicago in 1887, he became an influential member of the city's political machine, rubbing shoulders with the rich and powerful. But he eventually left them to become "the attorney for the damned," defending unionists, miners, and other members of the working class, as well as lawbreakers and the poor. Kersten, a professor of history and labor studies at the University of Wisconsin–Green Bay, does not omit Darrow's manic personal life of broken marriages, relationships, and juggling several affairs at once, leaving Kersten to comment: "Darrow lived life fearlessly, sometimes recklessly." In the end, the brilliance and daring of Darrow's legal strategies make this skillful, absorbing biography most riveting, especially with his masterful handling of the controversial Leopold-Loeb case, the unpopular Scopes "monkey trial," and the Sweet case, where a black family defended their home from attacks by their white neighbors. (May)
Reviewed on: 02/28/2011
Release date: 04/01/2011
Genre: Nonfiction
Open Ebook - 320 pages - 978-1-4299-6136-3
Paperback - 306 pages - 978-0-8090-3479-6
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