Clarence Darrow: American Iconoclast

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Farrar, Straus and Giroux, Apr 26, 2011 - Biography & Autobiography - 320 pages
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Clarence Darrow is best remembered for his individual cases, whether defending the thrill killers Leopold and Loeb or John Scopes's right to teach evolution in the classroom. In the first full-length biography of Darrow in decades, the historian Andrew E. Kersten narrates the complete life of America's most legendary lawyer and the struggle that defined it, the fight for the American traditions of individualism, freedom, and liberty in the face of the country's inexorable march toward modernity.

Prior biographers have all sought to shoehorn Darrow, born in 1857, into a single political party or cause. But his politics do not define his career or enduring importance. Going well beyond the familiar story of the socially conscious lawyer and drawing upon new archival records, Kersten shows Darrow as early modernity's greatest iconoclast. What defined Darrow was his response to the rising interference by corporations and government in ordinary working Americans' lives: he zealously dedicated himself to smashing the structures and systems of social control everywhere he went. During a period of enormous transformations encompassing the Gilded Age and the Progressive Era, Darrow fought fiercely to preserve individual choice as an ever more corporate America sought to restrict it.

 

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User Review  - zen_923 - LibraryThing

The only rough spot I see in this book is that the author's narration of Darrow as a lawyer lacks depth. I wish the author put more effort in describing how Darrow would prepare for his cases, how he ... Read full review

Contents

A Midwestern Childhood
3
A Bum Profession
22
Becoming the Attorney for the Damned
46
Fighting for the People in and out of Court
70
Labors Lyrical Lawyer
96
In Defense of Dynamiters
122
Darrow Defends Darrow
152
War and Regret
166
The Old Lion Still Hunts
192
No Rest No Retirement No Retreat
218
Afterword
243
Bibliographic Essay
289
Index
295
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About the author (2011)

Andrew E. Kersten is the Frankenthal Professor of History in the Department of Democracy and Justice Studies at the University of Wisconsin, Green Bay. He received his PhD in American history from the University of Cincinnati in 1997. He is the author of Race, Jobs, and the War: The FEPC in the Midwest, Politics and Progress: The American State and Society since the Civil War, A. Philip Randolph: A Life in the Vanguard, and Labor's Home Front: The American Federation of Labor during the Second World War. He has also written about Wisconsin history and the history of the city of Green Bay.

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