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Darrow's great contributions to the art of advocacy would be enough by themselves to make him an eternally interesting subject for biography. His equally interesting role as a forceful controversialist makes his life story doubly appealing -- especially for this iconoclastIc age level. It is a straightforward biography which avoids the twin sins of invented dialogue and over emphasis on private and home life (which is none the less adequately reported.) It is Darrow's career that gets major attention and his development as a lawyer -- from corporation work to causes. Mrs. Gurko always takes the time to clarify the issues Darrow defended in relation to the prevailing opinions of the times. Her narrative style does not always capture or convey the great emotional shock that Darrow's defense of the striking Pullman workers, the Wobblies or Loeb and Leopold produced, but the facts are entered without fictional aid. The energy that might have been drawn from trial record excerpts is replaced by the careful analysis given to Darrow's trial strategy. Although he was not an original thinker, his career spanned and took fire from an era of upheaval, in American thought. This comes across very well in a competent account of Darrow's life and work.

Pub Date: March 15th, 1965
Publisher: Crowell