BRENNAN VS. REHNQUIST

THE BATTLE FOR THE CONSTITUTION

A ho-hum digest of 100 Bill of Rights cases decided by justices Brennan and Rehnquist along predictable ideological lines. ``This is not an insider's account,'' warns Irons (Political Science/Univ. of California, San Diego; The Courage of Their Convictions, 1988, etc.) in his preface. ``I did not interview either justice for this book. Neither have I talked with former clerks or looked at private papers.'' Bad move. Had Irons provided some behind-the-robes analysis, this book might have had drama. (Irons himself acknowledges Brennan's legendary ability to use his charm to win votes in controversial cases.) And had he focused on far fewer cases—say, ten—his analysis might have had some depth. Instead, this numbing case-by-case-by-case summary provides little insight into the jurisprudence of the men who, for 18 years, were the Court's leading voices on the left and right—and even less insight into their personalities. After a perfunctory stab at characterizing each justice in a chapter-long biography, Irons proceeds to march through the Bill of Rights, offering an overly dense historical context for each amendment and then quoting from Brennan's opinion, on the one hand, and Rehnquist's on the other. Most of the big constitutional issues of the post-Warren Court are here—abortion, affirmative action, the death penalty, the right to die, school prayer. But all Irons offers is the revelation that Brennan consistently votes for individual litigants against the government, and uses the word ``dignity'' in his opinions a lot, while Rehnquist sides with state legislatures and the police, and relies on the word ``deference.'' (Fans of Rehnquist will chafe at the frequent snide comments about his proclivities for ignoring precedent and distorting evidence—but it's unlikely that this tedious book will generate much heat on the subject.) Plodding he-said/he-said treatment that makes for strenuous cover-to-cover reading.

Pub Date: Oct. 5, 1994

ISBN: 0-679-42436-9

Page Count: 400

Publisher: Knopf

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1994

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Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis...

THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE

50TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION

Privately published by Strunk of Cornell in 1918 and revised by his student E. B. White in 1959, that "little book" is back again with more White updatings.

Stricter than, say, Bergen Evans or W3 ("disinterested" means impartial — period), Strunk is in the last analysis (whoops — "A bankrupt expression") a unique guide (which means "without like or equal").

Pub Date: May 15, 1972

ISBN: 0205632645

Page Count: 105

Publisher: Macmillan

Review Posted Online: Oct. 28, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: May 1, 1972

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IN MY PLACE

From the national correspondent for PBS's MacNeil-Lehrer Newshour: a moving memoir of her youth in the Deep South and her role in desegregating the Univ. of Georgia. The eldest daughter of an army chaplain, Hunter-Gault was born in what she calls the ``first of many places that I would call `my place' ''—the small village of Due West, tucked away in a remote little corner of South Carolina. While her father served in Korea, Hunter-Gault and her mother moved first to Covington, Georgia, and then to Atlanta. In ``L.A.'' (lovely Atlanta), surrounded by her loving family and a close-knit black community, the author enjoyed a happy childhood participating in activities at church and at school, where her intellectual and leadership abilities soon were noticed by both faculty and peers. In high school, Hunter-Gault found herself studying the ``comic-strip character Brenda Starr as I might have studied a journalism textbook, had there been one.'' Determined to be a journalist, she applied to several colleges—all outside of Georgia, for ``to discourage the possibility that a black student would even think of applying to one of those white schools, the state provided money for black students'' to study out of state. Accepted at Michigan's Wayne State, the author was encouraged by local civil-rights leaders to apply, along with another classmate, to the Univ. of Georgia as well. Her application became a test of changing racial attitudes, as well as of the growing strength of the civil-rights movement in the South, and Gault became a national figure as she braved an onslaught of hostilities and harassment to become the first black woman to attend the university. A remarkably generous, fair-minded account of overcoming some of the biggest, and most intractable, obstacles ever deployed by southern racists. (Photographs—not seen.)

Pub Date: Nov. 1, 1992

ISBN: 0-374-17563-2

Page Count: 192

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Sept. 1, 1992

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