BRANDEIS: A Free Man's Life by Alpheus Thomas Mason
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BRANDEIS: A Free Man's Life

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KIRKUS REVIEW

In a great biography the author has done full justice to a great man -- and given it a symbolism that makes it virtually a composite of American social history during a half century. Rooted in years of study, evidenced by previous publications on Brandeis, the biographer reveals to his readers Louis Brandeis, the people's lawyer who became a Justice of the Supreme Court. He has done a magnificent job, covering every phase of his life, with main focus on his professional and public service, but with enough of his personal life, enough of his friends- and his enemies- and the personalities who crossed his path, enough of anecdote and minor incident, to give the book- and its subject- lasting vitality. First his boyhood in Louisville during the Civil War, then the search for learning that lasted through life and took him to Dresden, to Harvard Law, and -- in practice- to St. Louis, Boston, New York and Washington, where he had become a national figure. He fought powerful interests like the Boston Traction Company, the New Haven Railway, the United Shoe Corporation, and the big interests when they were at odds with the people, in his eyes. he was accused of changing sides, when a former client became- in a different case- an opponent. He had a wide and generous interest in civic matters, from early days. And when appointed to the Supreme Court, after long and bitter controversy, he served nobly for twenty three years, wielding a great power for good with Wilson, with Roosevelt, serving the cause of labor and social legislation, the cause of the little man, the cause of freedom. His biographer has not painted a portrait through rose-colored spectacles. He has shown the contradictions in the man, his fallibilities. But he was shown his greatness. He was devoted to the cause of Zionism, but showed little interest in the Jewish church as such. He endorsed much of what the New Deal stood for, but he voted against N.R.A. and opposed the packing of the Supreme Court. And from first page to last, Brandeis dominates the story-and it's a great one. it is not a popularized biography -- but it has innate elements of popularity.

Pub Date: Sept. 9th, 1946
Publisher: Viking