A practicing attorney and close observer of the federal courts examines the career of a present-day legal titan.
Each era produces a jurist who, while passed over for the Supreme Court, nevertheless exerts an outsized influence on the law. For our generation, that pre-eminent judge is Richard A. Posner (b. 1939) of the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals. Measured in citations alone—i.e., the number of times other judges invoke his opinions as authority—Posner far outstrips any contemporary. Known principally for his pragmatism and economic analysis of law, he has authored thousands of opinions on a wide range of legal issues during his 35 years on the bench. His decisions are notable for their impeccable reasoning, broadly allusive language, original analysis, and memorable turns of phrase. In addition, as a teacher and scholar, legal reformer, frequent debater, lecturer, interviewee, and the author of more than 40 books and innumerable articles and essays, he has extended his provocative thinking and influence to an audience beyond the legal community. Relying on extensive interviews, a thorough familiarity with Posner’s formidable paper trail, and a forthright acknowledgment of the judge’s many critics—including the likes of philosophers Martha Nussbaum and Ronald Dworkin, former Harvard Law Dean Erwin Griswold, and Justice Antonin Scalia—Domnarski (Swimming in Deep Water: Lawyers, Judges, and Our Troubled Legal Profession, 2014, etc.) compiles a useful, well-informed guidebook to Posner. The author provides plenty of biographical information, most of it supplied early on in his treatment of the judge’s youth, his undergraduate and law school days, and his years in Washington, D.C. But the focus is on the work, on the issues and ideas that preoccupied Posner through the decades, first as a professor at Stanford and Chicago Law and then as an appellate judge.
Practitioners will better understand Posner’s impact on the law; general readers will appreciate this introduction to that increasingly rare breed: a public intellectual worthy of their time.
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").
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)