Scoundrels in Law: The Trials of Howe and Hummel, Lawyers to the Gangsters, Cops, Starlets, and Rakes Who Made the Gilded Age

Scoundrels in Law: The Trials of Howe and Hummel, Lawyers to the Gangsters, Cops, Starlets, and Rakes Who Made the Gilded Age

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by Cait N. Murphy
     
 

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“A delightful romp through the theatrical courtrooms, seedy back alleys, and elegant parlors of Gilded Age New York.” —James McGrath Morris, author of Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power

“Only Dickens could have done more with this fabulously rich material. Terrific stuff.” —Eric Homberger, author of

Overview

“A delightful romp through the theatrical courtrooms, seedy back alleys, and elegant parlors of Gilded Age New York.” —James McGrath Morris, author of Pulitzer: A Life in Politics, Print, and Power

“Only Dickens could have done more with this fabulously rich material. Terrific stuff.” —Eric Homberger, author of Mrs. Astor's New York

Cait Murphy, author of Crazy ’08, is back with Scoundrels in Law: a witty, irreverent book that details the life and outrageous times of the law partnership of Howe and Hummel—quite possibly the most colorful one that ever was—and in the process gives a whirlwind tour of the Big Apple at the end of the 19th Century.

Editorial Reviews

Kirkus Reviews
From the 1860s to the first decade of the 20th century, the story of the notorious New York City law firm of Howe & Hummel. Murphy (Crazy '08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History, 2007) noticed a reference to the firm in Luc Sante's New York City period history Low Life (1991). Intrigued, the author discovered four 1940s-era New Yorker features about the firm written by Richard Rovere, who collected them in The Magnificent Shysters (1947). Murphy dug deeper, examining court documents and extensive newspaper coverage of their cases. Although the author found very little information about the personal lives of William Howe and Abraham Hummel, she glories in the stark differences between the two men who gained renown during their lifetimes primarily through their immoral tactics in courtrooms. Howe was a flamboyant, obese Catholic. The Jewish Hummel was more understated. Howe tended to defend high-profile murderers, while Hummel focused more on Broadway stars and others involved in civil litigation. Murphy is obviously fascinated by the fact that so many prominent New Yorkers sought out the ethically challenged firm, but, she notes, the lawyers' questionable reputations might have been a major selling point. "Being rascally was a job recommendation in itself for a Tammany-era lawyer," she writes; "being rascally and getting away with it was free advertising." Though full of period color and lively characters, Murphy's narrative suffers from shifting tones, as the author seems uncertain about whether to approach the lawyers' exploits using praise, disdain or irony. An uneven but rollicking read. Agent: Rafe Sagalyn/Sagalyn Literary Agency

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061999475
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
06/15/2010
Sold by:
HARPERCOLLINS
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
352
File size:
2 MB

Meet the Author

Cait Murphy is the author of Crazy '08: How a Cast of Cranks, Rogues, Boneheads, and Magnates Created the Greatest Year in Baseball History and has worked at Fortune, the Economist, and the Wall Street Journal Asia in Hong Kong. She lives in New York City.

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Scoundrels in Law: The Trials of Howe and Hummel, Lawyers to the Gangsters, Cops, Starlets, and Rakes Who Made the Gilded Age 3.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 3 reviews.
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