An uneven performance from one of our foremost celebrity lawyers.

LETTERS TO A YOUNG LAWYER

An extended graduation speech by America’s leading legal gadfly.

To his credit, Professor Dershowitz (Law/Harvard Univ.) admits that “I write like I talk.” Readers hoping to find a collection of subtle, elegantly crafted essays about the law will be disappointed. Instead, this collection reads as though it had been dictated within the space of a sleepless 48 hours. But then that’s quintessential Dershowitz: fast-thinking, fast-talking, and unapologetically opinionated. In a series modeled on Rainer Maria Rilke’s Letters to a Young Poet (see Christopher Hitchens’s Letters to a Young Contrarian, p. 1090), Dershowitz dispenses advice to those embarking on careers in the law. His reflections touch on many of his longstanding obsessions, particularly the unethical practices he contends compromise our criminal justice system. Nor can he resist firing off a few gratuitous salvos about his view that the Supreme Court corruptly influenced the outcome of the last presidential election. The Court’s opinion, he writes, “should not be respected, any more than the robed cheaters who wrote it should be respected.” Unlike its flamboyant author, however, little of the advice dispensed here is particularly controversial: Serve your client, not yourself; be willing to advocate for society’s pariahs; and, above all, make career choices that are personally satisfying even if that means forgoing prestige. As though commenting on his current project, Dershowitz observes that certain of his Harvard colleagues resist publishing until a piece is perfect, a search that is “illusory and has no end.” Instead, Dershowitz has opted “to publish my many imperfect books” in order to interject his voice into the “marketplace of ideas”—a highly appropriate motto for this highly imperfect collection.

An uneven performance from one of our foremost celebrity lawyers.

Pub Date: Nov. 15, 2001

ISBN: 0-465-01631-6

Page Count: 208

Publisher: Basic

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 2001

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NUTCRACKER

This is not the Nutcracker sweet, as passed on by Tchaikovsky and Marius Petipa. No, this is the original Hoffmann tale of 1816, in which the froth of Christmas revelry occasionally parts to let the dark underside of childhood fantasies and fears peek through. The boundaries between dream and reality fade, just as Godfather Drosselmeier, the Nutcracker's creator, is seen as alternately sinister and jolly. And Italian artist Roberto Innocenti gives an errily realistic air to Marie's dreams, in richly detailed illustrations touched by a mysterious light. A beautiful version of this classic tale, which will captivate adults and children alike. (Nutcracker; $35.00; Oct. 28, 1996; 136 pp.; 0-15-100227-4)

Pub Date: Oct. 28, 1996

ISBN: 0-15-100227-4

Page Count: 136

Publisher: Harcourt

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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