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Root and Branch: Charles Hamilton Houston, Thurgood Marshall, and the Struggle to End Segregation

4.2  ·  Rating Details ·  98 Ratings  ·  28 Reviews
The riveting story of the two crusading lawyers who led the legal battle to end segregation, one case and one courtroom at a time.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education is widely considered a seminal point in the battle to end segregation, but it was in fact the culmination of a decades-long legal campaign. Root and Branch is the epic story of the two
Hardcover, 276 pages
Published January 19th 2010 by Bloomsbury Press (first published 2010)
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Mar 13, 2010 Tommy rated it really liked it
An uninformed reader would think this is a book strictly about Brown v. Board of Education, but a couple of things quickly become apparent. First, the Brown case does not come until the very end of the book. Rawn James, Jr. rightly demonstrates that it is only the climax of a decades-long series of legal battles over segregation. In the twenty years before Brown, there was a lot of tension to get through and a lot of groundwork to be laid through court cases that established precedents--usually ...more
Jan 26, 2010 Kate rated it it was amazing
I was the winner of this particular title from the first reads section of this site. Being a Baltimore native I thought I was pretty familiar with this portion of history especially since it dealt with Thrugood Marshall, one of our local heroes. This account of the struggle against segregation and the steps involved in that long and trying process grabbed me from the beginning. The account alternates between Thrugood and his Mentor as their lives come together and how they work toward the common ...more
Sharyn L.
Apr 17, 2010 Sharyn L. rated it really liked it
Received my copy 1/14/10. Looking forward to stsrting it soon.

1/30/10 First few paragraphs are gripping. Should be an interesting non-fiction read after finishing "The Help."

2/20/10 I'm still reading reading this book. It is excellent, compelling writing. My only "complaint" is that there is so much detail, I can only read a few pages before I need to take a break to "process" it. I will defintitely finish it; it will just take some time and occasionally a need to read some light fiction.

What am
Tim Elston
Jun 16, 2016 Tim Elston rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Tim by: Tim Elston
Shelves: biographies
This is a first-rate biography of Houston and Marshal, two leading civil rights attorneys whose efforts led the nation from the early days of the 1930s, when black Americans were still being lynched and were not allowed to sit on juries, to the moment in history when the "separate but equal" doctrine was overturned on the grounds that segregation was inherently unequal. The author takes the reader on a journey through the crucial legal cases of these men's careers, each of which is riveting on i ...more
Jan 25, 2010 Elyssa rated it really liked it
I won this in the Goodreads book give-away. The story of the lives of Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall was interesting, espcially when their lives intersected.

The author outlines their tireless efforts as they fought individual cases of unjust segregation in higher education and employment. All of this led to the historic Brown vs. The Board of Education suit. This is also my main criticism of the book. It seemed like the author wanted to quickly finish his book and did not spend
Jan 08, 2015 Violinknitter rated it it was amazing
I had almost no idea of the long legal wars fought in the decades before Brown vs. the Board of Education to even make the decision possible.

The book covers a great deal of historical territory in an engaging and succinct manner. I listened to the Audible version, which was engrossing. I'm assuming the experience of reading it on the page would be similar.

I can't recommend this title highly enough.
Raven Moore
Oct 14, 2014 Raven Moore rated it it was amazing
This book reminds you that a very few but strong group of people fought all their lives in order to make the US a place where all people could walk, talk, and be freely. And, it makes you realize that the reason why we still have problems today is because we never actually implemented Brown vs. Board of education in every town or even in every state. We are still largely segregated and thus largely disconnected with what it means to be and love a human being.
Jun 13, 2010 Gail rated it really liked it
Shelves: worth-reading
Born in the late 1950's, I was impressed with what I didn't know about the history behind my country's racial struggles. I now have a long list of people to add to my ongoing knowledge. The only thing that prevents Root and Branch from being a 5-tar read is that it is dry and tough going in some spots, but the information to be gleaned is well worth the effort.
Jan 16, 2013 Jessica rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, 2013
I never thought that a book about historical law could be so fascinating and compelling. Even though I knew the history, reading about it from this perspective made it new to me, and I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.
Robert Owen
Aug 01, 2014 Robert Owen rated it really liked it
Rawn James’ “Root and Branch” is an interesting deep dive into the pre-Brown v. Board of Education life of Thurgood Marshall and a fascinating review of the long-term strategy devised by Marshall’s mentor, Charles Hamilton Houston, to achieve the landmark Supreme Court decision. The Civil Rights Movement, for all its passion and conflict, did not just spring from the soles of Rosa Parks’ tired feet one day when she decided she’d had enough and would not relinquish her seat on a Montgomery bus. I ...more
Feb 09, 2010 J.D. rated it liked it
Going into this, I have to admit my knowledge of Marshall, White and Houston was limited to what small amount would have been offered in any of my History classes. Needless to say, that did not amount to much and I being in my 20's I am of the age that has a hard time comprehending that the events in these books were so recent. I have certainly seen my share of racism in my life, but can not fathom a time where there could be such rampant discrimination(although that rabbit trail is not worth fo ...more
Feb 22, 2010 Jeffrey rated it liked it
Recommends it for: People who read the occasional non-fiction book
I won this book in a First Reads Giveaway

In an all too brief book, Rawn James Jr. manages to simultaneously educate and frustrate the reader with excellent prose that does not delve deeply enough into the subject matter.

In dividing his limited page count, 235 pages of text plus footnotes & index, between profiling Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall, and illustrating their attempts to end segregation, James fails to really do service to either.

James covers the basic premise of ea
Nate Landers
Nov 19, 2013 Nate Landers rated it it was amazing
Charles Hamilton Houston and Thurgood Marshall are names every African American should know. Apparently, my high school educators have omitted most of our black history with a summarization of civil rights; crediting its success to people like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and Rosa Parks. There would have not been a successful Civil Rights Movement without the earlier sacrifices of these men who judiciously fought for equality during America's darkest years. Root and Branch begins with images of in ...more
Jun 23, 2010 Wgaines rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Historians, Lawyers, African American Studies
If one is interested in the fight against Racism and Segregation then Rawn James, Jr's. work "Root and Branch" is an excellent choice.

This is book although a biography, reveals the perseverance of two prominent lawyers,who sought to fight Racism through the judicial system.

This book is fill with various cases, such as Brown vs. Board of Ed, Gaines vs. Canada, and so much more.

It also give various accounts of the political machinery blocking the advancement of African Americans. i.e. A southern
Jul 29, 2014 Mawgojzeta rated it really liked it
I am so glad I took the opportunity to read this book.

I found the constant introduction of new names confusing at times. This is in no way due to how the book was written, though. I knew virtually nothing about either of these fine men nor any of the other people (great and small) that Mr. James includes. That is a pretty sad testament to what history is taught to students in public schools.

I took the book slow; a few pages at my lunch break. That worked very well for me. Despite my slow progre
David Lucander
Interested in the legal history of the Civil Rights Movement and don't have time to read a ton of books? Then check this out! Rawn James basically combines Genna McNiel's biography on Charles Hamilton and Juan William's biography on Thurgood Marshall, and he does so with a third of the page count you'd have if you read these two other books. Obviously, a lot gets left out - but this book gets the job done. I love the idea of a tandem biography, and the author couldn't have picked a better duo to ...more
Mary Alice
Sep 19, 2013 Mary Alice rated it did not like it
This book could easily have been five stars because the subject matter and insights are fascinating. But it's disorganized and often confusing. A friend has commented that this is two mini-biographies. That's true, though the book ends in 1973 and though Houston is dead, the rest of Marshall's life is a puzzle.)

I was disconcerted by the juxtaposition of the two men's lives and the mixing of personal events and professional achievements. I was also confused by the non chronological nature of the
Margaret Sankey
Jul 23, 2011 Margaret Sankey rated it liked it
Like all turning point history, Brown v. Board of Education was far more complicated than one case--this legal history outlines the 25 year path from Charles Hamilton Houston's reorganization of the Howard Law School as a boot camp for civil rights lawyers, and the evolving strategy of insisting on state fulfilling separate but equal in Murray v. Maryland, inclusion of African Americans on juries in Hale v. Kentucky, eroded real estate covenants in Shelley, integrated graduate schools in Sipuel ...more
May 15, 2016 Olivia rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed reading this book. I had to read it for my American History class and am really happy that I chose this one. Shows the journey that Thurgood Marshall and Charles Houston went on the encourage civil rights, notably desegregation of schools, up until the monumental Brown v. BOE court case. It shows the many struggles the two faced working to reach equality for all and the many court cases they won while working their way up to larger scale cases as their reputations in the legal c ...more
Jan 30, 2016 Katie rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book. Clearly a topic not discussed in the schools where public school desegregation was a long fought battle by Charles Hamilton Houston & Thurgood Marshall. It wasn't just the Brown v. Board of Education, but many in the decades prior to this decision. I'm glad I picked up this book in an unlikely store, the dollar store.
Nov 11, 2014 Jim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very helpful history of the legal side of this country's civil rights movement, especially as it was conducted by Charles Houston and Thurgood Marshall. All of us, regardless of race, owe those involved in that struggle, a great deal. For they were instrumental in bringing America closer to living the promise made in our founding documents.
Craig Cunningham
Aug 20, 2010 Craig Cunningham rated it it was amazing
Fantastic discussion of the actual litigation and strategies associated with the American Civil Rights Movement. A very thorough analysis of the strategy used by Charles Hamilton Houston. Further, the book illustrates the way in which Howard Law School at Howard University became a think tank an intellectual center for the battle for Civil Rights. Great Book
Sep 12, 2014 Hannah rated it liked it
I found learning about the legal strategy behind desegregation and all of the cases leading up to Brown v. Board fascinating, but I had a hard time staying engaged with the story. I learned a lot, but wouldn't say this was an enjoyable read.
Sunny Solomon
Feb 19, 2010 Sunny Solomon rated it it was amazing
Riveting history of desegregation at its legal beginnings. Moving biography of the friendship between Charlie Houston and Thurgood Marshall, the key legal players in the NAACP's courtroom dramas. Will be reviewing for Clayton Books, Clayton, CA, in-store and online.
Richard Charlton  Pharris Jones
I have separate books on Thurgood Marshall and Charles Hamilton Houston and I wanted a more in-depth insight as to how these two intertwined professionally...
Terry McArdle
Apr 28, 2012 Terry McArdle rated it it was amazing
Dramatic, inspiring, heroic. I could not put this down. One caveat: Marshall has been a personal hero for a long time.
Feb 23, 2015 LorenzoT rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A WONDERFUL BOOK… The most important book I’ve ever read... If I could recommend just one book for every American to read – This would be the book…!
Liz rated it really liked it
Jun 28, 2015
Mahlon rated it really liked it
Jan 11, 2014
Carline Eaves
Carline Eaves rated it really liked it
Jul 27, 2015
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