A Time to Lose: Representing Kansas in Brown v. Board of Education / Edition 1

Hardcover (Print)
Buy New
Buy New from BN.com
Used and New from Other Sellers
Used and New from Other Sellers
from $4.28
Usually ships in 1-2 business days
(Save 88%)
Other sellers (Hardcover)
  • All (15) from $4.28   
  • New (4) from $37.15   
  • Used (11) from $4.26   


This thoughtful and engaging memoir opens up a previously hidden side to what many consider the most important Supreme Court decision of the twentieth century. With quiet candor Paul Wilson reflects upon his role as the Kansas assistant attorney general assigned "to defend the indefensible"-the policy of "separate but equal" that was overturned on May 17, 1954, by Linda Brown's precedent-shattering suit.

The Brown decision ended legally sanctioned racial segregation in our nation's public schools, expanded the constitutional concepts of equal protection and due process of law, and in many ways launched the modern civil rights movement. Since that time, it has been cited by appellate courts in thousands of federal and state cases, analyzed in thousands of books and articles, and remains a cornerstone of law school education.

Wilson reminds us that Brown was not one case but four-including similar cases in South Carolina, Virginia, and Delaware-and that it was only a quirk of fate that brought this young lawyer to center stage at the Supreme Court. But the Kansas case and his own role, he argues, were different from the others in significant ways. His recollections reveal why.

Recalling many events known only to Brown insiders, Wilson re-creates the world of 1950s Kansas, places the case in the context of those times and politics, provides important new information about the state's ambivalent defense, and then steps back to suggest some fundamental lessons about his experience, the evolution of race relations, and the lawyer's role in the judicial resolution of social conflict.

Throughout these reflections Wilson's voice shines through with sincerity, warmth, and genuine humility. Far from a self-serving apology by one of history's losers, his memoir reminds us once again that there are good people on every side of the issues that divide us and that truth and meaning are not the special preserve of history's winners.

Read More Show Less

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Wilson, professor emeritus of law at the University of Kansas, was the young assistant attorney general who, in an ``unsought, unplanned, and unearned brush with history,'' had to defend school segregation in Kansas in the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case before the Supreme Court. His memoir, though mainly for specialists, helps fill out the record with useful details and well-considered reflections on the role of the defense. After sketching Kansas's historical ambivalence about race, he recounts his own slow recognition of racial injustice. Then he describes the process of the case, noting that, though he personally opposed segregation, Supreme Court precedent clearly supported its legality. Indeed, unlike defense attorneys in companion cases in South Carolina and Virginia, Wilson welcomed friend of the court briefs from organizations like the ACLU, the CIO and the American Federation of Teachers, ``none [of which] were friends of Kansas and the Topeka Board of Education.'' Wilson also describes his appearances at the Supreme Court and offers critical reflections on the defense argument of the famed John W. Davis. After the decision, he notes, no Kansans acknowledged they had favored segregation: ``They were less righteous than embarrassed.'' Photos not seen by PW. (Mar.)
Wilson reflects upon his role as the Kansas assistant attorney general assigned "to defend the indefensible"--the policy of "separate but equal" that was overturned on May 17, 1954. His recollections recreate the world of 1950s Kansas, place the case in the context of those times and politics, describe the state's ambivalent defense, and proffer some lessons about his experience and the evolution of race relations since the ruling. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780700607099
  • Publisher: University Press of Kansas
  • Publication date: 3/28/1995
  • Series: Landmark Law Cases and American Society Series
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 272
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.00 (h) x 0.75 (d)

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations



1. 1951

2. The Historical Context

3. Why Me?

4. In the Trial Court

5. 1952—Year of Indecision

6. In the Supreme Court

7. 1953—Second Time Around

8. Judgment Day

9. Brown II




Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Be the first to write a review
( 0 )
Rating Distribution

5 Star


4 Star


3 Star


2 Star


1 Star


Your Rating:

Your Name: Create a Pen Name or

Barnes & Noble.com Review Rules

Our reader reviews allow you to share your comments on titles you liked, or didn't, with others. By submitting an online review, you are representing to Barnes & Noble.com that all information contained in your review is original and accurate in all respects, and that the submission of such content by you and the posting of such content by Barnes & Noble.com does not and will not violate the rights of any third party. Please follow the rules below to help ensure that your review can be posted.

Reviews by Our Customers Under the Age of 13

We highly value and respect everyone's opinion concerning the titles we offer. However, we cannot allow persons under the age of 13 to have accounts at BN.com or to post customer reviews. Please see our Terms of Use for more details.

What to exclude from your review:

Please do not write about reviews, commentary, or information posted on the product page. If you see any errors in the information on the product page, please send us an email.

Reviews should not contain any of the following:

  • - HTML tags, profanity, obscenities, vulgarities, or comments that defame anyone
  • - Time-sensitive information such as tour dates, signings, lectures, etc.
  • - Single-word reviews. Other people will read your review to discover why you liked or didn't like the title. Be descriptive.
  • - Comments focusing on the author or that may ruin the ending for others
  • - Phone numbers, addresses, URLs
  • - Pricing and availability information or alternative ordering information
  • - Advertisements or commercial solicitation


  • - By submitting a review, you grant to Barnes & Noble.com and its sublicensees the royalty-free, perpetual, irrevocable right and license to use the review in accordance with the Barnes & Noble.com Terms of Use.
  • - Barnes & Noble.com reserves the right not to post any review -- particularly those that do not follow the terms and conditions of these Rules. Barnes & Noble.com also reserves the right to remove any review at any time without notice.
  • - See Terms of Use for other conditions and disclaimers.
Search for Products You'd Like to Recommend

Recommend other products that relate to your review. Just search for them below and share!

Create a Pen Name

Your Pen Name is your unique identity on BN.com. It will appear on the reviews you write and other website activities. Your Pen Name cannot be edited, changed or deleted once submitted.

Your Pen Name can be any combination of alphanumeric characters (plus - and _), and must be at least two characters long.

Continue Anonymously

    If you find inappropriate content, please report it to Barnes & Noble
    Why is this product inappropriate?
    Comments (optional)