Two powerhouse law historians/journalists deliver a major contribution to the history of the Supreme Court.

THE BURGER COURT AND THE RISE OF THE JUDICIAL RIGHT

Two scholars, each distinguished in his or her respective fields, challenge received orthodoxies about the Burger Supreme Court while detailing how earlier breakthroughs in civil rights and criminal law were reversed or hollowed out.

Graetz (Columbia Law School; The End of Energy: The Unmaking of America's Environment, Security and Independence, 2011, etc.) and Pulitzer Prize–winning former New York Times Supreme Court journalist Greenhouse (Yale Law School; The Supreme Court: A Very Short Introduction, 2012, etc.) break new ground in this study of the Supreme Court. What Chief Justice Warren Burger's (1907-1995) court actually did has been minimized over the years since he retired, and his years of service have been characterized as ones in which “nothing much happened.” On the contrary, in this groundbreaking study, the authors establish beyond a doubt that Burger's court gutted the most significant rulings of the previous court. Graetz and Greenhouse proceed by subject area, following the court across the years, as the cumulative body of its decisions reversed many of the major accomplishments of its predecessors. The rights of criminal suspects or defendants were undermined. School integration was transformed into economic segregation, resulting in the reconstruction of barriers between races by restricting funding to each separate district. By insisting that prior intent to discriminate be proven before its effects could be considered, the court also undermined certain civil rights achievements. Free speech protections were transformed by the court's perverse use of the power to expand rights of business speech (advertising) and earlier nonexistent freedoms of corporations. Like all human agencies, the court was fallible, misjudging both the contemporary importance of some cases and the future effects of others. Nonetheless, the authors relentlessly demonstrate, it accomplished the reversals it set out to achieve.

Two powerhouse law historians/journalists deliver a major contribution to the history of the Supreme Court.

Pub Date: June 7, 2016

ISBN: 978-1-4767-3250-3

Page Count: 512

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: April 11, 2016

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 2016

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...

NIGHT

Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular...

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WHEN BREATH BECOMES AIR

A neurosurgeon with a passion for literature tragically finds his perfect subject after his diagnosis of terminal lung cancer.

Writing isn’t brain surgery, but it’s rare when someone adept at the latter is also so accomplished at the former. Searching for meaning and purpose in his life, Kalanithi pursued a doctorate in literature and had felt certain that he wouldn’t enter the field of medicine, in which his father and other members of his family excelled. “But I couldn’t let go of the question,” he writes, after realizing that his goals “didn’t quite fit in an English department.” “Where did biology, morality, literature and philosophy intersect?” So he decided to set aside his doctoral dissertation and belatedly prepare for medical school, which “would allow me a chance to find answers that are not in books, to find a different sort of sublime, to forge relationships with the suffering, and to keep following the question of what makes human life meaningful, even in the face of death and decay.” The author’s empathy undoubtedly made him an exceptional doctor, and the precision of his prose—as well as the moral purpose underscoring it—suggests that he could have written a good book on any subject he chose. Part of what makes this book so essential is the fact that it was written under a death sentence following the diagnosis that upended his life, just as he was preparing to end his residency and attract offers at the top of his profession. Kalanithi learned he might have 10 years to live or perhaps five. Should he return to neurosurgery (he could and did), or should he write (he also did)? Should he and his wife have a baby? They did, eight months before he died, which was less than two years after the original diagnosis. “The fact of death is unsettling,” he understates. “Yet there is no other way to live.”

A moving meditation on mortality by a gifted writer whose dual perspectives of physician and patient provide a singular clarity.

Pub Date: Jan. 19, 2016

ISBN: 978-0-8129-8840-6

Page Count: 248

Publisher: Random House

Review Posted Online: Sept. 30, 2015

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Oct. 15, 2015

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