by Arthur L. with Peter Israel Liman ‧ RELEASE DATE: Sept. 1, 1998
A perceptive, witty memoir of the lawyering life, by one of the most prestigious members of the New York bar. The law career of the late Arthur Liman (he died last year) spanned four decades and included some of the most interesting cases of the late 20th century: he became an attorney after observing Senator McCarthy's contempt for legal freedoms in the 1950s, and by the late 1980s his clients included William Paley of CBS and junk-bond guru Michael Milken. The book is spiced with personal anecdotes about some of his dealings with the famous and the infamous. Some, like media mogul Steve Ross (who negotiated the Time-Warner merger), come across as decent, almost humble, folks. Others are not spared Liman's well-developed wrath toward any who would abuse the legal system: the book closes with Liman's notes from the Iran-Contra investigation (of which he was chief legal counsel for the Senate), in which he castigates the circumvention of the Constitution by key White House and CIA officials. In particular, he never believed that Admiral Poindexter authorized all of the illegal activities without President Reagan's knowledge (unfortunately, Liman's private comment during a recess that Poindexter's testimony was ""bullshit"" was picked up by a microphone and broadcast on TV). Liman also reflects on the investigators' poor decisions, which unwittingly created a national hero out of Oliver North, who ""symbolized contempt for Congress."" Always, Liman is quick to point out why Iran-Contra differed from Whitewater, Watergate, and other high-profile scandals: the issue at stake was whether the executive branch could ignore Congress by creating an unaccountable, secret organization that would conduct covert foreign policy and decide on matters of national security. Only rarely succumbing to legalese, Liman's book is an important reminder of the foundations of constitutional law and offers a fine example of one attorney's integrity.
Pub Date: Sept. 1, 1998
Page Count: 384
Review Posted Online: N/A
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 1, 1998
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