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Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary
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Thurgood Marshall: American Revolutionary

4.06 of 5 stars 4.06  ·  rating details  ·  287 ratings  ·  34 reviews
This New York Times Notable Book of the Year, 1998, is now in trade paper.

From the bestselling author of Eyes on the Prize, here is the definitive biography of the great lawyer and Supreme Court justice.
Paperback, 504 pages
Published February 1st 2000 by Broadway Books (first published September 14th 1998)
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Ryan Holiday
Although an informative book, Juan Williams' Thurgood Marshall is an all too common example of a biography where the strength of the subject is forced to shine through weak writing. It is unfortunate that publishers allow the prominence of radio hosts and television pundits almost free reign to chronicle the lives of important historical figures knowing full well that the combination of names will often outweigh the quality of the book.

In this case, Thurgood Marshall is not done justice by Willi...more
Victor Corral
Juan Williams' writing, while mediocre, sheds light on the life and work of a man who perhaps did the most to dismantle (though not completely) institutional racism in America.

The chronological narrative plows through many of Marshall's legal battles, sometimes too briefly, but gives a good overview of many of them. Perhaps the book's biggest strength is both its scope (it covers his whole life), and the personal stories and battles between Marshall and his contemporaries (both inside and outsi...more
Caroline
I have to confess, to my shame, that I never really knew who Thurgood Marshall was until I read Devil in the Grove: Thurgood Marshall, the Groveland Boys, and the Dawn of a New America earlier in the year, in which he represented the 'Groveland Boys'. I found the glimpse of his role as chief lawyer for the NAACP in some of the most important civil rights cases fascinating, so when I came across this book I snapped it up to read. Having done so, I would say it is a must-read for anyone remotely i...more
Craig Cunningham


This is a wonderful biography of a great legal mind, and a mammouth figure in American culture. Certain Republican Senators dismissed Justice Marshall as an "activist judicial mind" during the confirmation hearings of Solicitor General Elena Kegan. These Senators must read this book. Juan Williams gives a complete biographical discription of the man, as pure human being, while capturing the genius of Justice Marshall. As a college professor, I teach courses relating to African American History a...more
Lucander
This is so much better than I thought it would be! A very detailed look at Marshall's life as a man, lawyer, activist, and judge. Reads surprisingly quickly for a biography that is this thick. I really felt like I "knew" Thurgood as well as anyone could after having read this...at least as well as someone could given his reputation for bring standoffish in his later years. Through personal papers and dozens of oral histories, Williams tells the story of Marshall's life and, to his credit, doesn'...more
Virginia
This is a wonderful book. The title is certainly fitting. I had not been aware of the huge role Thurgood Marshall played in fighting for the rights of individuals, and especially the African-American. His belief was that integration needed to be done through the legal system to have long lasting results. Juan Williams material is based on many, many interviews as well as all the law cases and newspaper coverage of the times. I feel the hard work Mr. Williams put into this book, saved the oral hi...more
Melissa
I do not usually read non fiction, especially biographies so I was unsure about reading this one. I realized after the first chapter that my worries were unfounded. Williams writes a compelling picture of Thurgood Marshall, about whom most might just know one sentence and one obscure fact. The book covers his personal life as well as his professional/political life as a lawyer. In fact, the cases mentioned were my favorite parts of the book.
Williams also did a fair job at not being too heavy ha...more
Kathryn Merwald
Thurgood Marshall is one of my heroes, despite (or maybe because of) all of his flaws.
Sey
A solid biography of Thurgood Marshall. Williams, through interviews and stories from those who new Marshall, was able to give readers an in depth understanding of one of the most important civil rights leaders from the 20th century. Several important court cases were mentioned, and their ever lasting impact was discussed. The struggle with race and becoming one of the most prominent figures in history, makes his story a must read. It's hard to believe that Brown v. Board of Education will barel...more
Steve
A thorough and fair review of Justice Marshall's life and contributions to the "Civil Rights movement". Although an uncomprimising and flawed man, I now hold Justice Marshall in high regard and possibly the most important litigator in the 20th Century.

I confess that I am a Williams fan, and I enjoy his writing style. The last chapter is quite repetitive, but overall the writing is to the point and full of the personal details that endear you to the subject of the biography.

Joe
Fascinating man and story. The writing/story telling leaves something to be desired
Brian
This was the Sullivan Brother's book selection for the Fall reading. I learned a lot about his life and how the experiences he had growing up in Baltimore helped shape his attitudes about segregation and its unfairness. He achieved much in his life while still being very human - full of contradictions. It will be an interesting discussion when we meet to discuss the book.
Kendra
Although my dog is named after him and he was my husband's favorite Chief Justice when he studied the law, it wasn't the only reason I read it. This was a very interesting man, a visionary and an important figure in American history. So many people really don't know this and the book is excellent if you are interested in finding out more.
George Bradford
A genuine American hero of the 20th Century, Marshall was a brilliant trial lawyer for several decades before being nominated for the Supreme Court.

This book covers it all. From his childhood in Baltimore, through his education, his career as a fearsome attorney and his tenure as a legal giant on the United States Supreme Court.
Carolyn
Didn't know who Juan Williams was until I read this book about 12 years ago. Just a brilliant account of one of the trailblazers of the Civil Rights Movement who doesn't get enough credit in my view. Not to mention he was the first African American appointed to the Suprement Court under Lyndon Johnson. Excellent book.
Annieamw Wilson
This is such an excellent biography, and especially timely in light of Obama's election. Marshall was a fascinating man who lived in fascinating times. As a lawyer, I really liked the legal aspect as well, but think a non-lawyer would enjoy it too. The author makes history come alive.
LauraLee
Excellent biography. The author gives a clear view of Marshall without showing too much bias on one side or the other. Marshallis not given the credit historically for his efforts in civil rights movement. Williams helps in this biography to bring the history forward.
Shawna
A really great book. Interesting, educational, personal. This book taught me so much about the civil rights movement and what daily life was like for the average black person of that era. Marshall's personal life was not so admirable.
Karl
The story is an interesting and important one, but, sadly, the prose leaves much to be desired. Given the dearth of biographies on so important a figure as Thurgood Marshall, however, I do recommend the book.
Mac
Marshall argued many of the most important cases decided by the Supreme Court, including Brown v Board of Education before he became a Supreme Court justice. A fascinating American; his life story well told.
Chuck Jackson
This is a well written biography. I was surprised at the division within the civil rights leadership and the apparent dismissive attitude of Marshall's toward direct action group like MLK, etc.
Debi Jo Michael
I read so much European history - it was good for me to learn a little more about my country too. Fascinating subject. His contributions to this country far outweigh his time on the Supreme Court.
Mike
One of the best biographies I've ever read. Williams perfectly blends research and journalistic flair in this intimate portrait of a giant in the American civil rights movement.
Mrs. T
Learned a lot and liked the way Mr. Williams chronicals Marshall's cases that lead to the break down of Jim Crow laws and urshered in civil rights for all people.
Kimberly
I feel like i just found out Santa isn't real! I still love him though!

Not the most well written book, but the most comprehensive book on the former Justice to date.
Mark
Interesting to read about Marshall's contributions. Sometimes forgotten and eclipsed by MLK. Also interesting to learn about his views on MLK and social protest.
Kevin Hartzog
Dec 02, 2011 Kevin Hartzog is currently reading it
Saw the HBO movie Thurgood with my AVID students. This book seems to be the perfect companion to the early years of Thurgood Marshall.
Kenitta
This book allowed a glimpse behind the persona to see the man. I throughly enjoyed the read.
Jean Justice
Dense. I learned a lot about Marshall and what made him the man he was.
Kef
Wonderful story, An almost forgotten figure in American history.
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