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Judging Thomas: The Life and Times of Clarence Thomasby Ken Foskett
Synopses & Reviews
Clarence Thomas, the youngest and most controversial member of the Supreme Court, could become the longest-serving justice in history, influencing American law for decades to come. Who is this enigmatic man? And what does he believe in?
Judging Thomas tells the remarkable story of Clarence Thomas's improbable journey from hardscrabble beginnings in the segregated South to the loftiest court in the land. With objectivity and balance, author Ken Foskett chronicles Thomas's contempt for upper-crust blacks who snubbed his uneducated, working-class roots; his flirtation with the priesthood and, later, Black Power; the resentment that fueled his opposition to affirmative action; the conservative beliefs that ultimately led him to the Supreme Court steps; and the inner resilience that propelled him through the doors.
Based on interviews with Thomas himself, fellow justices, family members, and hundreds of friends and associates, Judging Thomas skillfully unravels perhaps the most complex, controversial, and powerful public figure in America today.
He is black and conservative. He suffered the indignities of segregation but spurned the civil rights activism that ignited from its abuses. He was a beneficiary of affirmative action but now attacks it as a blight on black achievement. He was born poor but espouses the conservative politics of the wealthy elite. He is the Court's only racial minority but refuses to vote for perceived interests of racial minorities. Judging Thomas unravels the mystery of one of the most controversial and fascinating public figures on the American stage today. It untangles the complexities of his life and explores some of the important personal, political and historical forces that shaped him. It examines his life through the broad lens of history (not just through the miscoscope of Anita Hill, which reduced his life to a single event). It draws a contemporary portrait of a complex and poorly understood figure whose life illuminates an aspect of the American black experience that most American
About the Author
Ken Foskett, an investigative reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, covered legal affairs and state politics before serving as the newspaper's Washington correspondent from 1996 to 2001. Prior to joining the Journal-Constitution in 1989, Foskett worked for three years in southern Africa for Save the Children. A graduate of Yale and the Columbia Graduate School of Journalism, he is married and lives with his wife and son in Georgia.
For his biography of Justice Thomas, Foskett interviewed more than 300 people from every phase of Thomas life. Justice Thomas sat for interviews and is quoted in the book, along with Justice Antonin Scalia and Ruth Bader Ginsburg, two of his closest colleagues. Foskett interviewed Thomas family members, schoolmates, college classmates and numerous officials from the Reagan and Bush administrations. “Part of the reason I wanted to write about Justice Thomas is that most people with first hand knowledge of his life were around to talk about him,” says Foskett. “They provided details, nuance and texture that isnt always available to biographers relying on letters, personal papers or secondary sources.”
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