GO EAST, YOUNG MAN by William O. Douglas


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There actually was a time when Mr. Justice Douglas was not on the Supreme Court, and this attractively informal memoir brings those years into focus. The early chapters describe his boyhood in Yakima, Washington where poverty and polio both failed to limit his horizons; in fact, his love affair with the mountains began as part of a regimen to strengthen his disease-weakened legs. Eventually, Douglas traveled east to attend Columbia Law School. There, as throughout his educational career, he held several part-time jobs, actually missing the first six weeks of classes because he was busy earning tuition money by writing a business law curriculum for a correspondence school. Such prodigious accomplishments are typical; all but the most militant Douglas detractor will finish this book convinced that the Justice is brighter and more productive than ordinary mortals. The memoir sketches the years spent practicing and teaching law, then moves on to the sojourn in Washington when Douglas ran the SEC and was one of F.D.R.'s friends and advisers. His clear-eyed view of F.D.R.'s strengths and weaknesses is enlightening as are intriguing cameos of a range of Washington figures from Harold Ickes to Felix Frankfurter. Reading this wide-ranging, relaxed memoir is like chatting with Douglas about the experiences that shaped his view of the United States and its Constitution. A very special chance to watch a remarkable mind at work.

Pub Date: April 17th, 1974
Publisher: Random House