Taking the Stand: My Life in the Lawby Alan Dershowitz
America's most prominent legal mind and the #1 bestselling author of Chutzpah and The Best Defense, Alan Dershowitz, recounts his legal autobiography, describing how he came to the law, as well as the cases that have changed American jurisprudence over the past 50 years, most of which he has personally been involved in.
In Taking the Stand, Dershowitz reveals the evolution of his own thinking on such fundamental issues as censorship and the First Amendment, Civil Rights, Abortion, homocide and the increasing role that science plays in a legal defense. Alan Dershowitz, the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard University, and the author of such acclaimed bestsellers as Chutzpah, The Best Defense, and Reversal of Fortune, for the first time recounts his legal biography, describing his struggles academically at Yeshiva High School growning up in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, his successes at Yale, clerking for Supreme Court Justice Arthur Goldberg, his appointment to full professor at the Harvard at age 28, the youngest in the school's history. Dershowitz went on to work on many of the most celebrated cases in the land, from appealing (successfully) Claus Von Bulow's conviction for the murder of his wife Sunny, to the O.J. Simpson trial, to defending Mike Tyson, Leona Helmsley, Patty Hearst, and countless others. He is currently part of the legal team advising Julian Assange.
From the Hardcover edition.
Dershowitz, Frankfurter Professor of Law at Harvard, is one of the most high-profile lawyers in America, known for his work on newsworthy criminal cases, including the defense of Claus von Bülow, who was accused of killing his socialite wife. Dershowitz presented the defense’s appeals in the murder trial of DuPont heir John DuPont, as well as in Mike Tyson’s rape case. Outside the criminal arena, he has had a hand in cases involving false confessions, the right of self-defense for battered women, obscenity cases, and assisted suicide. In the course of Dershowitz’s book, several things become apparent: he is smart, he knows he is smart, and he wants readers to know he is smart. The emphasis he places on his own importance can be off-putting and his habit of illuminating noteworthy issues through the prism of his own egotism distracts from his message. That said, he raises provocative questions about the many dilemmas in modern American jurisprudence, including those related to the separation of church and state, affirmative action, human rights, and the right to privacy. All in all, Dershowitz offers much of interest despite overestimating his own role in many events. (Oct.)
Successfully writing an engaging memoir cannot be a contrived undertaking. Such writing involves not only documenting a series of interesting events and accomplishments in one's life, but it must also be structured to flow like a conversation. One should not expect anything less when reading the memoir of notable law professor Dershowitz (Chutzpah), an experienced author of articles, essays, and books over the last half century. From beginning to end, this memoir is both entertaining and enlightening. We see a young and inquisitive Dershowitz continually arguing with the authority figures in his early life, never satisfied with the answer, "just because." It's not surprising that he eventually studies law. Dershowitz uses his experiences to relate some very important points: the necessity of defending civil rights, the proper application of scientific evidence, and doing all that one reasonably can to help a client. Like William M. Kunstler's My Life as a Radical Lawyer, Dershowitz's book uses anecdotes as well as his involvement in specific cases to create an interesting account. VERDICT Since this memoir contains references to certain legal principles, it is highly recommended to both students of law and practicing lawyers.—Chad Clark, Lamar State Coll. Lib., Port Arthur, TX
One of the most distinguished lawyers of his generation reflects on his life and extraordinary career. Readers acquainted only with Dershowitz's TV persona will likely be surprised by the keen sense of humor, the graciousness offered opponents (with a few notable exceptions), and the tenderness toward family, friends and mentors the controversial law professor reveals here. They'll surely recognize the outsized ego and the passionate, full-throated advocacy of the many and varied legal causes with which he's so often identified. This memoir opens with an account of his Brooklyn boyhood, his undistinguished high school years, his intellectual awakening at college and his flowering at Yale Law School. After clerking for the legendary Judge David Bazelon and then for Arthur Goldberg on the U.S. Supreme Court, Dershowitz (The Trials of Zion, 2010, etc.) became the youngest full professor ever at Harvard Law School. For more than four decades, he has used this perch to teach, write and speak about the law's intersections with science and psychiatry and especially about matters pertaining to constitutional and criminal law. Most unusually for a law professor, Dershowitz has maintained a highly active appellate practice, and he narrates the rest of his life in the law through the many cases he's handled. Many of these unfailingly interesting tales feature high-profile clients like Leona Helmsley, O.J. Simpson, Mike Tyson and Bill Clinton. Dershowitz bristles, though, at being labeled merely a celebrity lawyer, and he reminds us of the many obscure defendants whose cases he accepted pro bono due to the important legal questions raised. Best known in recent years as a stout defender of Israel, Dershowitz has become an important voice with an active role in the evolution of American law, touching on an astonishing breadth of issues, including capital punishment, affirmative action, pornography, national security, academic freedom and human rights. An engaging recounting of a life of serious purpose and splendid flair.
One might call Alan Dershowitz is a devoted friend of controversy. This very vocal and able legal advocate has, after all, defended O.J. Simpson, Patty Hearst, Mike Tyson, Leona Helmsley, and, most recently, Julian Assange. In Taking the Stand, he offers compelling briefs on his cases, his legal strategies, and changing philosophy on issues including free speech and censorship; abortion; firearms and the Second Amendment; civil rights; and science in the courtroom. Certain to attract rapt attention.
"In 'Taking the Stand,' Dershowitz commands the stage. . . he fills his book to overflowing with fascinating and funny vignettes involving his cases and clients, and probing and provocative insights into contemporary legal controversies, ranging from censorship to civil rights, national security, sexual harassment, rape, abortion, the separation of church and state, and the use of scientific evidence in murder cases. Whether he is discussing people or policies, he leaves no doubt about where he stands." -Glenn C. Altschuler, The Boston Globe
“The problem with writing about Harvard law professor Alan Dershowitz, of course, is Dershowitz himself. He is impossibly, almost self-consciously annoying. As he writes in his latest book, ‘Taking the Stand,’ he does ‘not hide behind the distorting shield of false humility.’… If Dershowitz isn’t getting in your face about something, it’s as if he’s not doing his job…
I love that Dershowitz credits the Classic Comics for his introduction to literature…In an amusing vignette, Woody Allen asks Dershowitz which dead person he might have represented. Dershowitz replies: “Jesus.”…The Mike Tyson material in “Stand” is fascinating, and the Bobby Fisher anecdote alone is worth the $28 cover price…
’I’m never satisfied unless I get the last word,’ he writes in ‘[Taking the] Stand.’ Then he provides the text of his letter to the editor, finding fault with the as-yet unpublished, indeed unwritten obituaries that he assumes will herald his passing…We all wish [Dershowitz] a long and healthy life…” –Alex Beam, Boston Globe
"Riveting, compelling, touching, and tender." -The Jewish Voice
"One of the most high-profile lawyers in America, known for his work on newsworthy cases...raises provocative questions about the many dilemmas in modern American jurisprudence, including those related to the separation of church and state, affirmative action, human rights, and the right to privacy. Dershowitz offers much of interest...” -Publishers Weekly
“From beginning to end, this memoir is both entertaining and enlightening. We see a young and inquisitive Dershowitz continually arguing with the authority figures in his early life, never satisfied with the answer, ‘just because’…Dershowitz uses his experiences to relate some very important points: the necessity of civil rights, the proper application reasonably can to help a client.” –Library Journal
"One of the most distinguished lawyers of his generation reflects on his life and extraordinary career...The youngest full professor ever at Harvard Law School...more than four decades, he has used this perch to teach, write and speak about the law’s intersections with science and psychiatry and especially about matters pertaining to constitutional and criminal law. Most unusually for a law professor, Dershowitz has maintained a highly active appellate practice, and he narrates...his life in the law through the many cases he’s handled. Many of these unfailingly interesting tales feature high-profile clients like Leona Helmsley, O.J. Simpson, Mike Tyson and Bill Clinton...Dershowitz has become an important voice with an active role in the evolution of American law, touching on an astonishing breadth of issues, including capital punishment, affirmative action, pornography, national security, academic freedom and human rights. An engaging recounting of a life of serious purpose and splendid flair." -Kirkus Reviews (Starred Review)
“From his experience on the front lines of so many pivotal cases in recent history, Professor Dershowitz made the law real for his students. He effortlessly translated how our most basic philosophical principles are alive and well in the modern justice system. In doing so, he underscored not just a commitment to equity and integrity, but a deep faith in the power of the law to make our country more honest and fair.” – Congressman Joe Kennedy III
"I loved this book. If I could trade lives with anyone, Dershowitz would be high on my list, minus the death threats and tchotchkes." -Larry David
“Alan Dershowitz’s real life use of science to win murder cases rivals anything on CSI and any other fictional drama. Cheers for a riveting autobiography.” -Ted Danson
"Alan Dershowitz's autobiography is a page turning story of a special life. It exposes and explains as only he can important events of the last fifty years of The American Experience. Dershowitz has been a player contributing to the national conversation for half a century. Everybody takes his calls." –Stephen Trachtenberg, president, George Washington University
From the Hardcover edition.
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Meet the Author
Alan Dershowitz is one of the most famous and celebrated lawyers in America. He is the youngest full professor in school history at Harvard, where he is now the Felix Frankfurter Professor of Law. The author of numerous bestselling books, from Chutzpah to The Best Defense to In Defense of Israel to Reversal of Fortune, Dershowitz has advised and defended many of the most famous legal cases of the past 50 years.
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It's a privilege to be able to read about Alan Dershowitz's life in his own words. His autobiography reads like a real life superhero's story, reflecting his inexhaustible energy and tenacity to take on seemingly impossible challenges and wrestle with difficult moral dilemmas. His passion for writing and teaching is evident in the way he tells his story. I was taken into his private inner world filled with amazing characters and historical events. Professor Dershowitz doesn't deal with anything simple, and his iconic presence in the contemporary International arena is a distinguishing calling for one man who overcame persistent discouragement in his early years. Taking the Stand is a fascinating read, and I highly recommend it.
More excrement from the man that does his utmost to usurp justice and ensure that the guilty go free.