A well-reported, densely written saga with a gigantic cast of characters that becomes difficult to track through the...

Two Pulitzer Prize–winning journalists explore the world of a lawyer who became wealthy by representing plaintiffs against multinational corporations committing fraud, but who simultaneously defraded the legal system.

California Monthly executive editor Dillon (Lost at Sea, 1998) and deputy editor Cannon (co-author: Reagan’s Disciple: George W. Bush’s Troubled Quest for a Presidential Legacy, 2008, etc.) delve into the career of William S. Lerach, a San Diego–based lawyer in the New York City law firm of Milberg Weiss. Specializing in class-action lawsuits, Lerach sued Fortune 500 companies—including Enron, Tyco and WorldCom—on behalf of shareholders who believed they deserved recompense for the misdeeds of corporate officers. The plaintiffs would each normally receive relatively small monetary awards combined with the satisfaction of seeing corporate managers admit wrongdoing. Lerach and his law partners, meanwhile, would each win fees reaching into the millions of dollars. Lerach, born in Pittsburgh in 1946, tended to portray his upbringing as deprived, partly because his family had allegedly been taken advantage of by heartless drones from corporate America. In fact, the authors disclose, Lerach grew up in a stable, middle-class family. Nonetheless, his sense of perceived injustice drove him to the plaintiff’s bar, with lucrative private-sector institutions as his targets. The lawyer’s eventual celebrity grew not only because of his skilled lawyering but also his aggressive behavior—including highly publicized verbal challenges—toward nearly everybody who crossed his path, sometimes including his mentor Melvyn Weiss. Although the authors portray a hidden humanitarian streak in Lerach, for the most part he comes across as deeply unpleasant. His final downfall, which led to a prison term and the termination of his law practice, centers on a scheme to recruit plaintiffs with cash. He is scheduled to complete his prison term during 2010.

A well-reported, densely written saga with a gigantic cast of characters that becomes difficult to track through the ever-shifting narrative.

Pub Date: March 2, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7679-2994-3

Page Count: 544

Publisher: Broadway

Review Posted Online: Jan. 9, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 2010


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

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



Well-told and admonitory.

Young-rags-to-mature-riches memoir by broker and motivational speaker Gardner.

Born and raised in the Milwaukee ghetto, the author pulled himself up from considerable disadvantage. He was fatherless, and his adored mother wasn’t always around; once, as a child, he spied her at a family funeral accompanied by a prison guard. When beautiful, evanescent Moms was there, Chris also had to deal with Freddie “I ain’t your goddamn daddy!” Triplett, one of the meanest stepfathers in recent literature. Chris did “the dozens” with the homies, boosted a bit and in the course of youthful adventure was raped. His heroes were Miles Davis, James Brown and Muhammad Ali. Meanwhile, at the behest of Moms, he developed a fondness for reading. He joined the Navy and became a medic (preparing badass Marines for proctology), and a proficient lab technician. Moving up in San Francisco, married and then divorced, he sold medical supplies. He was recruited as a trainee at Dean Witter just around the time he became a homeless single father. All his belongings in a shopping cart, Gardner sometimes slept with his young son at the office (apparently undiscovered by the night cleaning crew). The two also frequently bedded down in a public restroom. After Gardner’s talents were finally appreciated by the firm of Bear Stearns, his American Dream became real. He got the cool duds, hot car and fine ladies so coveted from afar back in the day. He even had a meeting with Nelson Mandela. Through it all, he remained a prideful parent. His own no-daddy blues are gone now.

Well-told and admonitory.

Pub Date: June 1, 2006

ISBN: 0-06-074486-3

Page Count: 320

Publisher: Amistad/HarperCollins

Review Posted Online: May 19, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 15, 2006

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