cover image Taking the Stand: My Life in Law

Taking the Stand: My Life in Law

Alan Dershowitz. Crown, $28 (528p) ISBN 978-0-307-71927-0

Dershowitz, Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard, is one of the most high-profile lawyers in America, known for his work on newsworthy criminal cases, including the defense of Claus von Bülow, who was accused of killing his socialite wife. Dershowitz presented the defense’s appeals in the murder trial of DuPont heir John DuPont, as well as in Mike Tyson’s rape case. Outside the criminal arena, he has had a hand in cases involving false confessions, the right of self-defense for battered women, obscenity cases, and assisted suicide. In the course of Dershowitz’s book, several things become apparent: he is smart, he knows he is smart, and he wants readers to know he is smart. The emphasis he places on his own importance can be off-putting and his habit of illuminating noteworthy issues through the prism of his own egotism distracts from his message. That said, he raises provocative questions about the many dilemmas in modern American jurisprudence, including those related to the separation of church and state, affirmative action, human rights, and the right to privacy. All in all, Dershowitz offers much of interest despite overestimating his own role in many events. (Oct.)