Synopses & Reviews
Drawing on untapped archives and full of fresh revelations, here is the definitive biography of America’s legendary defense attorney and progressive hero.
Clarence Darrow is the lawyer every law school student dreams of being: on the side of right, loved by many women, played by Spencer Tracy in Inherit the Wind. His days-long closing arguments delivered without notes won miraculous reprieves for men doomed to hang.
Darrow left a promising career as a railroad lawyer during the tumultuous Gilded Age in order to champion poor workers, blacks, and social and political outcasts against big business, Jim Crow, and corrupt officials. He became famous defending union leader Eugene Debs in the landmark Pullman Strike case and went from one headline case to the next—until he was nearly crushed by an indictment for bribing a jury. He redeemed himself in Dayton, Tennessee, defending schoolteacher John Scopes in the “Monkey Trial,” cementing his place in history.
Now, John A. Farrell draws on previously unpublished correspondence and memoirs to offer a candid account of Darrow’s divorce, affairs, and disastrous finances; new details of his feud with his law partner, the famous poet Edgar Lee Masters; a shocking disclosure about one of his most controversial cases; and explosive revelations of shady tactics he used in his own trial for bribery.
Clarence Darrow is a sweeping, surprising portrait of a legendary legal mind.
From the Hardcover edition.
Winner of the Los Angeles Times Book Prize for Biography
The definitive biography of Clarence Darrow, the brilliant, idiosyncratic lawyer who defended John Scopes in the “Monkey Trial” and gave voice to the populist masses at the turn of the twentieth century, thus changing American law forever.
Amidst the tumult of the industrial age and the progressive era, Clarence Darrow became America’s greatest defense attorney, successfully championing poor workers, blacks, and social and political outcasts, against big business, fundamentalist religion, Jim Crow, and the US government. His courtroom style—a mixture of passion, improvisation, charm, and tactical genius—won miraculous reprieves for men doomed to hang. In Farrell’s hands, Darrow is a Byronic figure, a renegade whose commitment to liberty led him to heroic courtroom battles and legal trickery alike.
About the Author
John Aloysius Farrell is the author of the highly acclaimed Tip O’Neill and the Democratic Century, which was featured on the cover of the New York Times Book Review, received rave reviews from the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic Monthly, and the Boston Globe, and was a New York Times “Notable Book” and a Washington Post Book World “Rave of the Year.” He is a staff correspondent at National Journal magazine in Washington, D.C. Previously, he was Washington bureau chief for the Denver Post, served as Washington editor, White House correspondent for the Boston Globe, and was a senior writer at the Center for Public Integrity. He lives with his wife and two children in Washington.