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The Forgotten Memoir of John Knox: A Year in the Life of a Supreme Court Clerk in FDR's Washington

3.85 of 5 stars 3.85  ·  rating details  ·  26 ratings  ·  5 reviews
"My name will survive as long as man survives, because I am writing the greatest diary that has ever been written. I intend to surpass Pepys as a diarist."

When John Frush Knox (1907-1997) wrote these words, he was in the middle of law school, and his attempt at surpassing Pepys—part scrapbook, part social commentary, and part recollection—had already reached 750 pages. His
Paperback, 312 pages
Published September 1st 2004 by University Of Chicago Press (first published June 1st 2002)
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Oliver Bateman
This strange, idiosyncratic work was rescued from obscurity and prepared for popular release by notable academics Garrow and Hutchinson. I can't imagine what the original version of this memoir looked like--Knox's eye for detail is keen, but his weird, awkward prose style certainly isn't--and even at 260 pages it seems a bit on the long side. There's some hilarious stuff in here, ranging from James "Pussywillow" McReynolds' stubborn resistance to modern times (e.g., he believes that wristwatches ...more
Mark Desrosiers
A nondescript ambitious young man, with a vivid man-crush on Willis Van Devanter, John Knox had the misfortune of serving for a year as the law clerk for the most odious Supreme Court justice of all time, James C. McReynolds. This is his memoir of that year.

Though one would expect a memoir about living with one of the nastiest men of all time to be replete with daily anecdotes of horror, this remains pretty safe and sane. The most hilarious revelation is how Justice McReynolds took a bath every
Aug 15, 2007 Mark rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: memoir
John Knox was law clerk to Supreme Court Justice James McReynolds in the mid-1930s, when President Franklin Roosevelt tried to add members to the court to eliminate the stranglehold of conservative justices who kept blocking his New Deal initiatives. Knox's diary, which wasn't published until after his death, is a fascinating look at life in the nation's highest court and the political struggles of the Depression. As with all diaries, there are places that drag because of the sheer weight of quo ...more
L.M. Elm
A man crippled by incredible insecurites, clerks for Supreme Court Judge Reynolds during FDR's attempt to pack the court to pass his New Deal legislation. If you want the scoop on the inner workings of the court or the social scene in 1930, this book will fit you well.
Jul 04, 2013 B rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: own, westend
This is a fascinating book. It reads like an historical fiction: Say Dan Gutman's "Justice McReynolds and Me."

It's weird because Knox is so ineffectual and the Justice is so distant that, even though things are happening, it seems like Knox is really just hanging out. Sometimes he gets awfully glum and keeps talking an irreparable break, but it looks like McReynolds wound up with only one problem with Knox.

Still there is a lot of interest in the book because the minor details are so timebound.

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