IN BRIEF AUTHORITY by Francis Biddie


Email this review


This is the second half of Francis Biddle's life story; the first, A Casual Past. ( p. 523) was published last year and recounted his memories up to his entry into the realm of public affairs. This volume begins with his appointment as chairman of FDR's Labor Board, goes on through his work as counsel for the government in the TVA investigations, his brief-stint as a judge on the Circuit Court of Appeals, his roles as Solicitor General and Attorney General between 1940 and 1945, and ends with his final public office: American member of the International Military Tribunal at the Nurnberg Trial. Biddie was an unabashed and thoroughly idealistic New Dealer, and this book is thus mainly another addition to the already immense pile of ""inside"" stories on that era and on the almost mythical men who made it what it was. But while his loyalty to FDR, both man and symbol, is never to be questioned, he has here exhibited two outstanding virtues which make this book worth more than the contributions of many men who were perhaps closer to the center of the times: his great but unobtrusive powers of judgment, and his truly remarkable literary gifts. He has an uncanny ability for pinning down hundreds of extremely complicated persons and events with just the right descriptive phrases, with nearly as much fairness as vividness but without the sham of an ""objective"" approach. A more penetrating and interesting book than its predecessor.

Pub Date: Nov. 9th, 1962
Publisher: Doubleday