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Judging Thomas: The Life and Times of Clarence Thomas
"Clarence Thomas believes himself a man of vision besieged on all sides by people of little imagination who just don't get him....The remarkable thing about Judging Thomas is that it made this liberal believe it, too. Just because Clarence Thomas is, arguably, the Supreme Court's most conservative member, just because he is a black man who seeks to eradicate the Civil Right legislation of the past fifty years, just because he is the man Emerge magazine dubbed 'Uncle Thomas: Lawn Jockey for the Far Right,' this does not mean that he doesn't deserve a little respect. Weird? You bet. Let me explain..." C. P. Farley, Powells.com (read the entire Powells.com review)
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?
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. Driven by his grandfather's relentless demand that he counter racial injustice with hard work and accomplishment, Thomas has waged an often lonely fifty-year campaign to forge his own American identity against others' expectations of who he should be.
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. Foskett reveals that beneath the silent, often brooding exterior is a man of depth, empathy, and wit, but one still deeply scarred by his humiliating Supreme Court confirmation.
Judging Thomas is a seminal biography of the youngest and most recognizable justice, and the man who may succeed William H. Rehnquist to become the nation's first black chief justice.
"This in-depth look at the life of Clarence Thomas, who has kept a low public profile for over a decade, is a refreshing change. Foskett, a journalist for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, focuses on Thomas's growth — from his upbringing at the hands of a strict grandfather through his time at Yale Law School and his eventual, albeit controversial, ascension to the Supreme Court. Relying on a mixture of secondary sources and oral interviews, Foskett delves into Thomas's intellectual development, from a flirtation with black power in college to his embrace of the natural law philosophy that dictates his strict reading of the Constitution. While Foskett leaves no stone unturned in detailing Thomas's history, he occasionally is less effective at connecting the dots: is there a connection between Thomas's strict upbringing, his attendance at religious schools and his hard-line judicial philosophy? Foskett is occasionally critical of Thomas (he notes a scandal that dogged Thomas when he headed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission), but mainly argues that Thomas's legal mind has been unfairly criticized because he's a black conservative. Foskett's conclusion that Thomas was likely more truthful at his Senate confirmation hearings than Anita Hill will be a turnoff to some. But those able to suspend political judgment will learn a lot about the court's most controversial justice." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Book News Annotation:
Clarence Thomas, the youngest and most controversial member of the Supreme Court, could become the longest-serving justice in history, influencing US law for decades to come. Foskett's biography is based on interviews with Thomas, fellow justices, family members, and hundreds of friends and associates, as well as archival material and Thomas's own speeches, legal writings, and other materials. It traces the justice's working-class roots, his flirtation with the priesthood and with Black Power, the resentment that fueled his opposition to affirmative action, and the conservative beliefs that eventually led him to the Supreme Court. Foskett is an investigative reporter for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and was the newspaper's Washington correspondent from 1996 to 2001.
Annotation ©2004 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
In this eye-opening biography, Foskett offers a comprehensive and provocative examination of the life of Clarence Thomas, the controversial Supreme Court justice. 8-page photo insert.
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.
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