Louis D. Brandeis: Justice for the People

Overview

Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941) played a role in almost every important social and economic movement during his long life: trade unionism, trust busting, progressivism, woman suffrage, scientific management, expansion of civil liberties, hours, wages, and unemployment legislation, Wilson's New Freedom, Roosevelt's New Deal. He invented savings bank life insurance and the preferential union shop, became known as the "People's Attorney," and altered American jurisprudence as a lawyer and Supreme Court judge. Brandeis...

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Overview

Louis D. Brandeis (1856-1941) played a role in almost every important social and economic movement during his long life: trade unionism, trust busting, progressivism, woman suffrage, scientific management, expansion of civil liberties, hours, wages, and unemployment legislation, Wilson's New Freedom, Roosevelt's New Deal. He invented savings bank life insurance and the preferential union shop, became known as the "People's Attorney," and altered American jurisprudence as a lawyer and Supreme Court judge. Brandeis led American Zionism from 1914 through 1921 and again from 1930 until his death. He earned over two million dollars practicing law between 1878 and 1916 and used his wealth to foster public causes. He was adviser to leaders from Robert La Follette to Frances Perkins, William McAdoo to Franklin Roosevelt, Woodrow Wilson to Harry Truman.

This lively account of Brandeis's life and legacy, based on ten years of research in sources not available to previous biographers, reveals much that is new and gives fuller context to personal and historical events. The most significant revelations have to do with his intellectual development. That Brandeis opposed political and economic "bigness" and excessive concentration of wealth is well known. What was not known prior to Strum's research is how far Brandeis carried his beliefs, becoming committed to the goals of worker participation--the sharing of profits and decision making by workers in "manageable"-sized firms. So it happened that the man who was sometimes dismissed as an outmoded horse-and-buggy liberal championed a cause too radical even for the New Deal braintrusters who were quick to follow his advice in other areas

Strum charts Brandeis's development as a kind of industrial-era Jeffersonian deeply influenced by the classical ideals of Periclean Athens. She shows that this was the source not only of his vision of a democracy based on a human-scaled polis, but also of his sudden emergence, in his late fifties, as the leading American Zionist: he had come to regard Palestine as the locus of a new Athens. And later, on the Supreme Court, this Athenian conception of human potential took justice Brandeis beyond even Justice Holmes in the determined use of judicial power to protect civil liberties and democracy in an industrialized society.

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Editorial Reviews

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A truly distinguished work on Brandeis that at last will portray the man in all his magnificent range and versatility, as well as his humanity and intellectual qualities... A major contribution to American biography and history... Strum has obviously written this from her heart as well as from her head, and the combination of approaches, so peculiarly appropriate for Brandeis, gives a sense of vitality and consequence to almost every page of the book. I expect it will take its place as the major work on Brandeis for years to come.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780805208849
  • Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
  • Publication date: 3/4/1989
  • Pages: 506

Meet the Author

Philippa Strum is Professor of Political Science, City University of New York, and a Vice-President of the American Civil Liberties Union
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Table of Contents

Preface

Acknowledgments

Chronology

1. Beginnings

2. The World of the Boston Brahmin

3. Practicing Law

4. Family Life

5. A Public Career

6. Reforming Life Insurance

7. Trade Unionism

8. The Brandeis Brief

9. Progressivism

10. Worker-Participation

11. Wilson and the New Freedom

12. The Making of a Zionist

13. Zionist and American

14. Zionism Reconsidered

15. Mr. Brandeis Goes to Washington

16. Law and Civil Liberties

17. The Curse of Bigness

18. Style and Politics on the Court

19. Isaiah's Extrajudicial Activities

20. Possibilities and Limitations

Notes

Bibliography

Index

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