LAWYERS AND THE AMERICAN DREAM

In this age of lawyer-bashing, attorney/novelist Speiser (Superstock, 1982) offers an unusual—and shameless—paean to the plaintiff's bar—those lawyers who, in the author's view, fulfill the American Dream of righting wrongs while making themselves rich. Speiser begins by analyzing the law firm featured on L.A. Law, characterizing its attorneys as ``Equalizers''—lawyers who enrich themselves by representing underdog clients (Speiser draws a contrast between these entrepreneurs of equal justice and other types of attorneys, like civil-rights and some criminal-defense lawyers, who may do worthwhile public service but typically don't make a lot of money in the process). The author uses this pop paradigm as a framework for a series of fascinating stories- -dramatic tort cases in which individual victims of modest means achieved stunning victories against tycoons and huge corporations. He proudly recounts his own role as an Equalizer (many of the cases cited are his own), extolling punitive damages and other weapons of the plaintiff's lawyer and arguing that civil litigation enhances democracy, corporate responsibility, and even the economy. Speiser goes on to outline plans to make the civil-litigation system bigger, more accessible, and more lucrative. Predictably, he argues that Dan Quayle's plan to institute the English rule in American courts—the rule that the loser in a lawsuit pays for all costs (a regulation intended to deter litigation)—would be counterproductive and possibly even anti-American. Speiser concludes that democratic, market-oriented societies need a thriving plaintiff's bar, and he urges the development of this institution in other countries as well. Speiser tells some absorbing tales of success in court, but his reduction of the American Dream to a quest for riches is unworthy, and his self-serving tribute to the plaintiff's bar will have readers shaking their heads and smiling.

Pub Date: April 1, 1993

ISBN: 0-87131-724-9

Page Count: 430

Publisher: N/A

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15, 1993

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AND THE MARCH ON WASHINGTON

This early reader is an excellent introduction to the March on Washington in 1963 and the important role in the march played by Martin Luther King Jr. Ruffin gives the book a good, dramatic start: “August 28, 1963. It is a hot summer day in Washington, D.C. More than 250,00 people are pouring into the city.” They have come to protest the treatment of African-Americans here in the US. With stirring original artwork mixed with photographs of the events (and the segregationist policies in the South, such as separate drinking fountains and entrances to public buildings), Ruffin writes of how an end to slavery didn’t mark true equality and that these rights had to be fought for—through marches and sit-ins and words, particularly those of Dr. King, and particularly on that fateful day in Washington. Within a year the Civil Rights Act of 1964 had been passed: “It does not change everything. But it is a beginning.” Lots of visual cues will help new readers through the fairly simple text, but it is the power of the story that will keep them turning the pages. (Easy reader. 6-8)

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 2001

ISBN: 0-448-42421-5

Page Count: 48

Publisher: Grosset & Dunlap

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2000

Did you like this book?

No Comments Yet

WHAT A WONDERFUL WORLD

A LIFETIME OF RECORDINGS

Noted jazz and pop record producer Thiele offers a chatty autobiography. Aided by record-business colleague Golden, Thiele traces his career from his start as a ``pubescent, novice jazz record producer'' in the 1940s through the '50s, when he headed Coral, Dot, and Roulette Records, and the '60s, when he worked for ABC and ran the famous Impulse! jazz label. At Coral, Thiele championed the work of ``hillbilly'' singer Buddy Holly, although the only sessions he produced with Holly were marred by saccharine strings. The producer specialized in more mainstream popsters like the irrepressibly perky Teresa Brewer (who later became his fourth wife) and the bubble-machine muzak-meister Lawrence Welk. At Dot, Thiele was instrumental in recording Jack Kerouac's famous beat- generation ramblings to jazz accompaniment (recordings that Dot's president found ``pornographic''), while also overseeing a steady stream of pop hits. He then moved to the Mafia-controlled Roulette label, where he observed the ``silk-suited, pinky-ringed'' entourage who frequented the label's offices. Incredibly, however, Thiele remembers the famously hard-nosed Morris Levy, who ran the label and was eventually convicted of extortion, as ``one of the kindest, most warm-hearted, and classiest music men I have ever known.'' At ABC/Impulse!, Thiele oversaw the classic recordings of John Coltrane, although he is the first to admit that Coltrane essentially produced his own sessions. Like many producers of the day, Thiele participated in the ownership of publishing rights to some of the songs he recorded; he makes no apology for this practice, which he calls ``entirely appropriate and without any ethical conflicts.'' A pleasant, if not exactly riveting, memoir that will be of most interest to those with a thirst for cocktail-hour stories of the record biz. (25 halftones, not seen)

Pub Date: May 1, 1995

ISBN: 0-19-508629-4

Page Count: 224

Publisher: Oxford Univ.

Review Posted Online: May 20, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: March 1, 1995

Did you like this book?

more