LETTERS TO A YOUNG LAWYER

An uneven performance from one of our foremost celebrity lawyers.

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 Books

Review Posted Online: May 19, 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 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Aug. 15, 1996

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TO THE ONE I LOVE THE BEST

EPISODES FROM THE LIFE OF LADY MENDL (ELSIE DE WOLFE)

An extravaganza in Bemelmans' inimitable vein, but written almost dead pan, with sly, amusing, sometimes biting undertones, breaking through. For Bemelmans was "the man who came to cocktails". And his hostess was Lady Mendl (Elsie de Wolfe), arbiter of American decorating taste over a generation. Lady Mendl was an incredible person,- self-made in proper American tradition on the one hand, for she had been haunted by the poverty of her childhood, and the years of struggle up from its ugliness,- until she became synonymous with the exotic, exquisite, worshipper at beauty's whrine. Bemelmans draws a portrait in extremes, through apt descriptions, through hilarious anecdote, through surprisingly sympathetic and understanding bits of appreciation. The scene shifts from Hollywood to the home she loved the best in Versailles. One meets in passing a vast roster of famous figures of the international and artistic set. And always one feels Bemelmans, slightly offstage, observing, recording, commenting, illustrated.

Pub Date: Feb. 23, 1955

ISBN: 0670717797

Page Count: -

Publisher: Viking

Review Posted Online: Oct. 25, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 1, 1955

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