Sunday, February 28, 2016

Sunday Book Roundup

Of Courtiers and Kings: More Stories of Supreme Court Law Clerks edited by Todd C. Peppers and Clare Cushman (UVA Press) is reviewed in The New Rambler.
"Nevertheless, some good stories make it through the encomiastic firewall; and some of the portraits are more than two-dimensional. One can’t help but empathize with such a character as Potter Stewart – the genuine humanity of the guy – when one learns, via his 1972- and 1973-term clerks, that he hated Warren Burger (his Chief Justice), was frightened of William Rehnquist, and had the habit of chewing the ends of his neckties.
And it tells you something about Rehnquist to read the story of him and his 1974 clerk, going to play ping-pong in an upstairs room, next to the Supreme Court gym. As they were entering the room, a janitor walked out, leaving the place reeking of marijuana. But Rehnquist never reported the matter, so the janitor kept his job. Someone should have told Potter Stewart that he really had nothing to fear from the old softie."
From H-Net comes a review of On the Edge of Freedom: The Fugitive Slave Issue in South Central Pennsylvania, 1820-1870 by David G. Smith (Fordham University Press).

New Statesman has a review of Joan Brady's America's Dreyfus: The Case Nixon Rigged (Skyscraper Publications).
"The one-sentence summary of this extraordinary book is that it is about the dirty tricks employed by Richard Nixon and his allies in the late 1940s and early 1950s to secure the conviction of Alger Hiss, a former government official, on a trumped-up charge of perjury. That leaves out many material facts. Joan Brady was only eight years old when a former Communist Party member, Whittaker Chambers, told the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) that Hiss was a communist. She was not quite ten when Hiss was convicted in January 1950. But in 1960 she was living with Dexter Masters, whom she later married. Masters was an old friend of Hiss. Hiss came to dinner and remained friends with Brady until his death in 1996."
The Federal Lawyer has a new issue out with several reviews of note, all found here. One is of Harold H. Bruff's Untrodden Ground: How Presidents Interpret the Constitution (University of Chicago Press). There's also a review of Jilly Leovy's Ghettoside: A True Story of Murder in America (Spiegel & Grau), and a review of Shakespeare and the Law: A Conversation Among Disciplines and Professions edited by Bradin Cormack, Martha C. Nussbaum, and Richard Strier (University of Chicago Press).

In The Washington Post there is a review of Fergus M. Bordewich's The First Congress: How James Madison, George Washington, and a Group of Extraordinary Men Invented the Government (Simon & Schuster).

The Firebrand and the First Lady: Portrait of a Friendship: Pauli Murray, Eleanore Roosevelt, and the Struggle for Social Justice by Patricia Bell-Scott (Knopf) is reviewed in The New York Times.
"The February 1953 issue of Ebony included an article entitled “Some of My Best Friends Are Negroes.” The byline was Eleanor Roosevelt’s, though the headline, apparently, was not. “One of my finest young friends is a charming woman lawyer — Pauli Murray, who has been quite a firebrand at times but of whom I am very fond,” Roosevelt wrote. “She is a lovely person who has struggled and come through very well.” Indeed, nothing was ever easy for Murray, a black woman born in 1910, a woman attracted to women and also a poet, memoirist, lawyer, activist and Episcopal priest. But her tender friendship with Roosevelt, sustained over nearly a quarter-century and more than 300 cards and letters, helped. It is the rich earth Patricia Bell-Scott tills for “The Firebrand and the First Lady,” a tremendous book that has been 20 years in the making."
Also from The New York Times is a review of Mannish Sinha's The Slave's Cause: A History of Abolition (Yale University Press).