Showdown: Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America

Wil Haygood. Knopf, $32.50 (416p) ISBN 978-0-307957-19-1
Haygood (The Butler) effectively uses the 1967 Senate confirmation hearings for Thurgood Marshall’s barrier-breaking nomination to the Supreme Court as the framing device for a biography of this pioneering American. Marshall, who became the first African-American to serve as a Supreme Court justice, had previously enjoyed a remarkable career as a civil rights advocate, and Haygood provides details of his legal triumphs in an accessible way, along with a moving account of his upbringing in Baltimore, where he directly experienced the cruel injustices of segregation. In between the flashbacks to Marshall’s life before July 1967, when he received President Johnson’s nomination, Haygood paints well-rounded portraits of the powerful Southern Democrats on the Senate Judiciary Committee, such as John McClellan and James Eastland, who fought bitterly to keep the Supreme Court lily-white. The behind-the-scenes look at the hard-fought battle that Lyndon Johnson and his supporters waged on Marshall’s behalf creates suspense, even though readers will already know of their ultimate success. This is the definitive account of the life of a major American hero who deserves wider recognition. Agent: Esther Newberg, ICM. (Oct.)
Reviewed on: 05/18/2015
Release date: 09/15/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
Compact Disc - 978-1-101-92411-2
Paperback - 416 pages - 978-0-307-94737-6
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Audio book sample courtesy of Penguin Random House Audio
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