Sunday, February 23, 2014

Sunday Book Roundup

This week The Federal Lawyer adds a couple of interesting reviews, all found here. The first is a review of Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned by John A. Farrell (Doubleday).
"In Clarence Darrow: Attorney for the Damned, John A. Farrell paints a brilliant portrait of the famous lawyer’s life. Going beyond the popular image of Darrow shaped by Spencer Tracy’s 1960 portrayal of a rumpled, free-thinking trial lawyer in “Inherit the Wind”—a fictionalized account of Darrow’s defense of John T. Scopes for teaching evolution—Farrell reveals a highly intelligent, compassionate, yet deeply flawed and difficult man. A preeminent litigator and a fervent defender of the underdog, Darrow was also not above stooping to unscrupulous means to win cases. He was, according to Farrell, willing to “employ any trick to save a client,” and he was twice tried for bribing jurors. Darrow’s personal life was no less complicated. Although long married to his second wife, Darrow was “a notorious rake,” according to Farrell—“a professed sensualist who took much pleasure from the chase, seduction, and act of love.”"
Also in The Federal Lawyer is a review of two First Amendment books, Floyd Abrams's Friend of the Court: On the Front Lines with the First Amendment (Yale University Press) and Ronald K. L. Collins's Nuanced Absolutism: Floyd Abrams and the First Amendment (Carolina Academic Press). The review focuses "largely on the controversial decision issued by the Supreme Court in Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (2010), which ruled that corporations have a First Amendment right to spend unlimited amounts in political campaigns. Abrams devotes considerable space to defending this decision."

There's lots on H-Net this week including a review of Saleem Badat's The Forgotten People: Political Banishment Under Apartheid (Brill Academic Publishers) about the "extra-judicial administrative process with no recourse to courts." There's also a review of Justin Buckley Dyer's Natural Law and the Antislavery Constitutional Tradition (Cambridge University Press).
"Challenging contemporary scholarship, he argues that natural law and antislavery constitutionalism are not incompatible. His thesis builds on two key principles: 1) many Americans believed that slavery violated natural law, especially its immoral imposition of one man’s arbitrary authority over another, and 2) they believed the Constitution should be interpreted as consistent with the Declaration of Independence’s commitment to those natural-law principles of equality and liberty. Dyer examines the private and public rhetoric of judges, lawyers, statesmen, and orators who challenged slavery on constitutional grounds, revealing a tradition that championed the moral right to equality against the reality that fact, custom, and law protected slavery."

Michael H. Tonry's edited volume of Prosecutors and Politics: A Comparative Perspective (University of Chicago Press) is also reviewed on H-Net.
"A common theme in the articles regardless of location is the broad discretion exercised by prosecutors. Almost universally in this volume, prosecutors are portrayed as having nearly unfettered discretion in decision making. Internationally, Japanese prosecutors are shown have vast discretion in deciding whether and with what to charge the defendant. Swedish prosecutors also enjoy autonomy from their superiors in making case decisions. The only country where prosecutorial discretion is somewhat limited is Poland. Prosecutors in Poland who conclude a crime has occurred are theoretically required to prosecute. While ostensibly this principle treats everyone equally the outcome has been over-prosecuting for minor offenses."
And, H-Net has a review of Karrin Hanshew's Terror and Democracy in West Germany (Cambridge University Press).

The New York Review of Books has at least two pieces of interest in the current issue. One is David Cole's look at government documents on privacy, in "Can Privacy Be Saved?", and the second is a review of Lane Kenworthy's Social Democratic America (Oxford University Press).

In The Washington Post, Douglas Brinkley reviews the writings of George F. Kennan in The Kennan Diaries (Norton), edited by Frank Costigliola.
"Just how linked Acheson and Kennan are in Cold War history shines forth in the diaries. Kennan believed himself the intellectual superior. In July 1951, when Acheson told Kennan that Truman was considering him for the position of ambassador to the Soviet Union, the dispassionate containment guru shrugged. “It is reasonable that I should look forward with a sense of relief to the prospect of again being an ambassador,” Kennan wrote, nose upturned. “It is just about the only profession one can have these days in which nothing, but really nothing, is either expected or required of you."