Books by David Stebenne

ARTHUR J. GOLDBERG by David Stebenne
Released: April 1, 1996

From historian Stebenne (Ohio State Univ.), an absorbing, scholarly biography of an undeservedly neglected legal thinker. Goldberg (190890) is remembered today mainly for leaving the Supreme Court after three terms to become US ambassador to the United Nations during the Johnson administration. But he also, Stebenne argues, played a major role as an architect of the postWW II nation. The son of poor Jewish Ukrainian immigrants to Chicago's West Side, Goldberg was the product of a left-wing political milieu. From his upbringing, Stebenne writes, Goldberg acquired a distrust of large corporations and ``long-established elites and their culture.'' Thus, after excelling at Northwestern University Law School and after initially pursuing a conventional practice with corporate clients, he became active in the ACLU and began to represent union clients. His representation in 1939 of striking newspaper workers against the powerful Hearst monolith resulted in national exposure as a champion of unions, a high-profile job representing steelworkers, and later, a position as general counsel to the CIO. During WW II he served as William Donovan's number-two man at the OSS. After the war, Stebenne relates, Goldberg played a major role in maintaining the New Deal objectives of economic security for the working and middle classes as a leading advocate for labor unions. With the election of John F. Kennedy, whom he supported, Goldberg was elevated to secretary of labor and then, in 1962, to associate justice of the Supreme Court. Goldberg's short but eventful tenure on the Warren Court was marked by activist rulings in many areas, particularly civil rights, that represented a departure from settled law. As UN ambassador, Goldberg decried the folly of military escalation in Vietnam, thereby winning the enmity of Lyndon Johnson. An illuminating look at a fascinating figure in 20th-century politics. Read full book review >