Engagingly, Newsweek Washington bureau-chief Thomas tells the colorful story of the controversial criminal lawyer who defended spies, mobsters, demagogues, and even industrialists from legal punishment, but who left moral judgments to the ""majestic vengeance of Good."" In many ways, Williams's career was unique. He was a respectable Washington insider whose access to the secrets of the powerful gave him a reputation as a ""fixer"" of legal difficulties, yet he was a criminal lawyer who willingly defended thugs, Mafia dons, and pornographers and lived a fast life among athletes and other celebrities in bars and nightclubs. Although a devout Catholic who attended mass daily, Williams emerges in Thomas's account as an amiable, morally ambivalent rogue who thrived on power. Thomas portrays Williams as an aggressive competitor at the game of litigation who would defend anyone ""as long as they gave him total control of the case and paid up front,"" and for whom defeat was unacceptable. The author shows that Williams was genuinely brilliant as a lawyer--for instance, his successful defense of Jimmy Hoffa, in what initially seemed an unwinnable case, was a stunning display of legal virtuosity. Gradually, Williams's clients became wealthier, and Williams became one of the first, and most celebrated, specialists in ""white collar"" crime. Armand Hammer, Marvin Mandel, John Connally, and Robert Strauss numbered among his clients. Williams became so wealthy from his practice that, among other investments, he eventually became owner of the Washington Redskins and the Baltimore Orioles. Liver cancer, which struck in January 1987 and eventually killed him, prevented him from accepting an offer from President Reagan to helm the CIA. A skillful and lively portrait of a larger-than-life lawyer.