FindLaw book reviewer and attorney Matthew Herrington discusses Professor
Robert Alan Dahl's new book, How Democratic is the American Constitution?
Herrington argues that while Dahl is correct that the Constitution is less
democratic than it might be, we should actually be thankful for that.
Herrington also takes on Dahl's comparison between our system and those of
countries such as Israel and Italy, and Dahl's contentions concerning
Madison's view of political parties.
Friday, May. 10, 2002
FindLaw book reviewer, former Writ editor, and attorney Rodger Citron
assesses a recent biography of Supreme Court Justice Fred Vinson, by James
St. Clair and Linda Gugin. Citron notes that the biography is interesting
not only because it provides a compelling portrait of Vinson as a man, but
also because it turns the conventional wisdom about the Justice on its head.
Legal historians have generally postulated that Vinson's death allowed Warren
Court advances in civil rights law such as Brown v. Board of Education, but
the authors say this is not so.
Friday, May. 03, 2002
FindLaw book reviewer, attorney, and Green Bag editor Ross Davies weighs in
on historian Garry Wills's biography of the "semi-forgotten" presidency of
James Madison, far better known as one of the Constitution's framers. While
finding Wills's account engaging, Davies takes issue, among other points,
with Wills's characterization of Madison as relatively naive and provincial.
Friday, Apr. 26, 2002
FindLaw columnist and Cardozo law professor Marci Hamilton -- a former clerk
to Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor -- discusses Justice O'Connor
and her brother's memoir of growing up on their family's farm in the
Southwest, Lazy B. Hamilton explores the insights Lazy B affords into both
Justice O'Connor's personality and her jurisprudence.
Friday, Apr. 19, 2002
FindLaw columnist, attorney and author Julie Hilden reviews a recent memoir
by two former law students determined to counteract the portraits of law
school drawn by One L and The Paper Chase. For Robert Ebert Byrnes and Jaime
Marquart, law school had more to do with "class-ditching, orgies, hookers,
hard drugs, and card-counting" than with the Socractic method. Hilden
assesses their Harvard-meets-Hunter-S.-Thompson account of law school life.
An interview with the authors can be found here.
Friday, Apr. 12, 2002
FindLaw book reviewer and attorney Elaine Cassel assesses Sasha Abramsky's
Hard Time Blues, an account of how politics over the past few decades has
resulted in the United States' incarcerating more people for more offenses
than any other country in the free world, with our prison population
quintupling over the last 30 years. Abramsky's narrative, which focuses on
"Three Strikes" laws such as California's, is all the more timely now that
the Supreme Court has decided to review the constitutionality of such laws.
Friday, Apr. 05, 2002
FindLaw book reviewer and attorney Laura Hodes notes the flaws and virtues of James Patterson's thriller Second Chance, written with Andrew Gross. Among other points, Hodes assesses how well the book depicts the personal lives and work obstacles of the four women, all in different law enforcement-related jobs, who band together to try to track down a San Francisco serial killer, even when it means putting themselves at grave risk.
Friday, Mar. 29, 2002
FindLaw book reviewer and columnist and former counsel to the President John
Dean reviews a recent Library of America collection of the papers of
Alexander Hamilton, edited by Yale history professor and expert on dueling
Joanne Freeman. As Dean notes, the volume contains much more than the
Federalist Papers Hamilton wrote -- including Hamilton's public letter
dispelling an accusation of corruption with an admission of adultery, and a
number of writings relating to the notorious Burr-Hamilton duel -- such as
the letter Hamilton penned to be given to his wife if he were to die.
Friday, Mar. 22, 2002
FindLaw book reviewer and senior producer, and attorney Joel Zand assesses
Ann Rule's Every Breath You Take. As Zand explains, the book is a true crime
story with an intriguing genesis -- the victim, knowing she might be killed
by her ex-husband, left a note for her sister requesting that Rule write her
story in the event that she was murdered. Zand explains the book's virtues
and its flaws, and considers why Rule's background may have led her to grant
the wish of the victim, Sheila Bullush.
Friday, Mar. 15, 2002
FindLaw book reviewer and attorney Matthew Herrington discusses a recent book
by Robert Jan van Pelt, a historian who served as an expert witness in the libel
suit that another historian, David Irving, brought against Penguin Books in
Britain. Irving claimed Penguin had defamed him by suggesting that he had
distorted the historical record in order to support a theory of Holocaust
denial. As Herrington explains, van Pelt's book not only discusses the
evidence about the Holocaust, and about Auschwitz's use as a death camp that
Penguin used at trial to rebut Irving's claims, but also raises more abstract
questions about proof and evidence in general.
Friday, Mar. 08, 2002