Abrams, chief of legal affairs for ABC News, and Fisher follow up Lincoln’s Last Trial with another intriguing presidential courtroom procedural. This one is centered on a highly public 1914 libel claim brought by a New York state politician, William Barnes, against former president Teddy Roosevelt. Roosevelt had written that Barnes, a key player in the New York Republican machine, was corrupt and that his actions “deeply taint and discredit our whole government system.” Working with the transcript of the case, Abrams and Fisher dissect the legal maneuvering from jury selection to direct and cross-examination of the parties, witnesses called, judicial rulings, closing arguments, and the jury verdict. They provide insightful commentary on how the opposing lawyers, William Ivins for Barnes and John Bowers for Roosevelt, employed sophisticated courtroom strategies, tricks, and diversions, smartly deconstructing Ivins’s strategy of offering constant objections to Bowers’s examination of Roosevelt and Bowers’s skillful cross-examination of Barnes, which undercut small parts of earlier testimony. Many of the questions the trial raised about the effects of money in politics, the dangers of blind allegiance to party politics, and oversize corporate political influence will resonate with contemporary readers. Legal eagles and history buffs will enjoy this one. Agent: Frank Weimann, Folio. (May)
Praise for Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense“This beautifully-wrought story of Theodore Roosevelt’s defense of his claims of corruption in New York State politics has intense echoes today. Abrams and Fisher do a superb job of clearly presenting the issues in this remarkable and intensely dramatic trial.” —SCOTT TUROW"Growing up on Long Island just miles from Teddy Roosevelt’s historic home I thought I knew just about everything about our 26th President. I was wrong. Using Roosevelt's eight days of testimony, Dan Abrams and David Fisher present a fascinating window onto the former President Roosevelt that is fresh and often surprising. This trial and Roosevelt's defense of his reputation on the stand, often under fierce questioning, is truly mesmerizing." —BRIAN KILMEADE“Maintaining suspense about the jury's verdict, Abrams and Fisher deliver a fine and timely legal drama.” —Booklist“Many of the questions the trial raised about the effects of money in politics, the dangers of blind allegiance to party politics, and oversize corporate political influence will resonate with contemporary readers. Legal eagles and history buffs will enjoy this one.” —Publishers Weekly“A feisty Roosevelt takes center stage.” —Kirkus Reviews“Dan Abrams and David Fisher have penned a thrilling account of a nationally important trial that had profound consequences for both parties, one of whom happened to be Teddy Roosevelt. Abrams and Fisher have sifted through the archives to give us a courtroom seat to witness T.R. at his “bully” best in this high stakes, high drama, high profile, yet so far relatively unknown, trial from our nation’s history.” —GREGG TRIPOLI, Executive Director, Onondaga Historical Association “Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense reads like a blow-by-blow radio account of a prizefight between two heavyweights, although the arena is a courtroom, not a boxing ring.” —New York Journal of Books“Dan Abrams and David Fisher prove that the story of a libel case can indeed make for gripping reading.… Abrams and Fisher are gifted writers, and their prose is neither overly spare nor showy; they're clearly fascinated by the trial, and their enthusiasm for their subject matter shows. Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense is a must-read for anyone with a deep interest in the 26th president, or in First Amendment law, but any reader with an affection for American history will find something to admire in this book.” —NPR“Meticulously chronicles what happened during the four-week trial, at which over 100 witnesses, including the governor of New York and many members of the state Legislature, were called to testify. The reader gets to know the lawyers, the judge, the jurors, the witnesses, the arguments and the rulings—and above all, the indomitable TR.… All are brought vividly to life by Abrams and Fisher.” —Law360
"The greatest strength of Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense is the detailed play-by-play account of the trial. All of Roosevelt's charm and bluster is on display.... Abrams and Fisher have succeeded in their goal of reestablishing the importance of Barnes v. Roosevelt in American jurisprudence. ... Students of American legal history and general audiences with an interest in learning more about Theodore Roosevelt will both find "Theodore Roosevelt for the Defense" an engaging read."–Bowling Green Daily News
What happened when former president Theodore Roosevelt accused Republican Party leader William Barnes of corruption, who then sued? From the authors of the New York Times best-selling Lincoln's Last Trial; with a 300,000-copy first printing.
An account of a much-publicized early-20th-century trial that exposed "the sordid reality" of New York State politics.
In April 1915, eager spectators filled a Syracuse courtroom in anticipation of a trial involving one of the most prominent men in America: former President Theodore Roosevelt, who was being sued for libel by party boss William Barnes over Roosevelt's published assertion that Barnes was corrupt. The trial yielded a 3,738-page typed transcript as well as colorful reports in newspapers across the country, sources that ABC's chief legal affairs correspondent Abrams and Fisher (co-authors: Lincoln's Last Trial: The Murder Case that Propelled Him to the Presidency, 2018, etc.) have mined thoroughly to produce a detailed—sometimes dramatic, sometimes humdrum—account of the drama. The abundant sources prove to be both a boon and a shortcoming: Not all of the 104 witnesses who testified during the trial were compelling; nor were some issues—such as Barnes' "alleged involvement in printing industry corruption," which occupied the court for many days. The highlight of the trial—and of this book—was the week that Roosevelt, "an explosion of energy," took the stand. As the New York Press reported, Roosevelt dominated the courtroom "with that marvelous personality of his and has won more friends in Syracuse than he made at any particular time." After more than 38 hours of questioning, heckled by the plaintiff's lawyers, who tried to goad him into anger, he emerged "smiling and happy and ready for more," stepping down from the stand and grinning at the jury. The trial was not the only news: War was brewing in Europe, and President Woodrow Wilson strained to keep America out of the fray. Roosevelt strongly urged engagement, a stand that worried his lawyers, who were fearful of alienating several jurors of German descent. Roosevelt held back from criticizing Germany—until the sinking of the Lusitania, "piracy accompanied by murder," he said, impelled him to urge America's immediate entry into the war.
A feisty Roosevelt takes center stage in a mostly lively history.