Hugo Black: A Biography / Edition 2

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The extraordinary story of a man who bestrode his era like a colossus, Hugo Black is the first and only comprehensive biography of the Supreme Court Justice of thirty four years, (1886-1971). Once a member of the Ku Klux Klan, Black became one of the most celebrated and important civil libertarians in the history of the United States and the chief twentieth-century proponent of the First Amendment. Newman presents us with the long odyssey of Hugo Black, capturing the man as he was-a brilliant trial lawyer, the investigating senator called by one reporter a walking encyclopedia with a Southern accent,and the wily politician and astute justice who led the redirection of American law toward the protection of the individual.

Hugo Black was one of the most controversial and influential Supreme Court justices of the 20th century. Roger Newman presents the first full-scale biography of Black--an exceptional portrait of a fascinating and important figure and his impact on the country.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Supreme Court Justice Black (1886-1971), a noted civil libertarian and populist, is done justice in this first comprehensive biography, written with the cooperation of his family. Newman, a former research scholar at New York University School of Law, recreates Black's youth in isolated Clay County, Ala., his move into law and politics in Birmingham and his election to the U.S. Senate in 1926. FDR's search for a liberal justice led him to appoint Black in 1937. On the Court, Black grew into a staunch defender of the Bill of Rights and, as one of his clerks wrote, a judge concerned most with ``the human being involved.'' He battled with order-loving rival Felix Frankfurter to fight McCarthy-era speech restrictions and, as the 1960s began, became the country's foremost First Amendment absolutist. In 1963, he wrote the landmark right-to-counsel Gideon opinion, but, as the Warren Court continued its revolution, Black's ``reformist zeal had sharply abated.'' Though Newman clearly admires his subject and effectively limns Black's private life, he also tracks the justice's evasions regarding his membership in the Ku Klux Klan as a young man, notes the senator's ``excess zeal'' as an investigator and scores his illiberal opinion regarding the World War II internment of Japanese-Americans. (Oct.)
Library Journal
Supreme Court Associate Justice Hugo Black is described by the author as controversial and influential: controversial for an earlier Ku Klux Klan membership; influential for his lasting impact on the law. Best known for an absolutist belief in the Bill of Rights as a guarantee of civil liberties, Black helped define modern American constitutional law. Newman almost lovingly delves into the private and public life of this complex man who characterized himself as merely a "country fellow." While there are other prominent works on Black, most, like Howard Ball and Phillip J. Cooper's Of Power and Right (Oxford Univ. Pr., 1992), focus on Black's often stormy relationships with Court colleagues like William O. Douglas and Felix Frankfurter. Black's memoirs, Mr. Justice and Mrs. Black (LJ 3/1/86), provided a first look at the private man. Now, Newman has brought both sides together in an admirable biography. If there is any real reservation, it is only that Hugo Black will compete for the reader's time and attention with Gerhard Gunther's Learned Hand (LJ 5/1/94). But we can only feel satisfied with two excellent judicial biographies appearing in the same year. Highly recommended.-Jerry E. Stephens, U.S. Court of Appeals Lib., Oklahoma City
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780823217861
  • Publisher: Fordham University Press
  • Publication date: 1/1/1997
  • Edition description: 1
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 741
  • Sales rank: 1,000,058
  • Product dimensions: 9.00 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 1.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Roger K. Newman, a Research Scholar at New York University School of Law, has taught Constitutional Law at New York University and was the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship.

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