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Louis D. Brandeis: A Life

3.9 of 5 stars 3.90  ·  rating details  ·  154 ratings  ·  26 reviews
The first full-scale biography in twenty-five years of one of the most important and distinguished justices to sit on the Supreme Court–a book that reveals Louis D. Brandeis the reformer, lawyer, and jurist, and Brandeis the man, in all of his complexity, passion, and wit.

A huge and galvanizing biography, a revelation of one man’s effect on American society and jurispruden
ebook, 928 pages
Published September 22nd 2009 by Schocken (first published January 28th 1981)
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Frank Stein

This book is an extensive, probably too extensive, look at an undeniably fascinating man.

In the early 20th century Brandeis became known as the "People's Attorney" for taking on cases for labor unions, utility consumers and others. But as he himself said, he preferred not to be tied down to particular clients, and he aimed to be the "counsel to the situation." This meant he was often the mediator or the negotiator in a host of what he called his "pet reforms". Early in his life he took on the W
Jan 22, 2011 Linda added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: flannery
This is a really long book - over 700 pages - but, to me, it's worth reading. First of all, I like learning about the lives of famous people, especially ones whose names and careers I've heard about but know nothing about. Louis Brandeis became one of the most notable Supreme Court justices and it's very interesting to learn about the cases that got him there. It also shows that although life goes on, nothing changes. Lots of the challenges he faced (like the separation of banking from its inves ...more
Andy Miller
After reading this I wish we had a Louis Brandeis on the Supreme Court now. This new biography traces his life and reminds us that Brandeis was an extremely successful attorney who made a great deal of money representing business and commercial interests before focusing on the cases that led him to be known as the People's Attorney, including the introduction of the "Brandeis briefs."

The book reminds us that Brandeis was always committed to capitalism, he just felt that the law needed to adapt t
Jean Poulos
One of my goals for 2014 is to read about the Supreme Court justices so here is my first one this year. The life of Louis B. Brandeis, as explored in Professor Urofsky’s remarkable book, had innumerable passages that amazed me. Urofsky’s prose along with the meticulous detail he put into the book help capture the sweep and the details of the life of Brandeis. More than half the book is about Brandeis’s pre-court years. Brandeis was fifty-nine years old when he was appointed to the court. Urofsky ...more
At times Brandeis was riveting, yet there were segments that caused my eyes to glaze over, whole portions that I found myself skimming. Actually, “skimming” is a euphemism. I literally skipped a chapter or two. However, in a book of almost 1000 pages, that’s not so terrible. Where the biography focused (exhaustively and brilliantly) on Brandeis the intellectual giant, Brandeis the son, brother, friend, husband, father, grandfather, student/former student, mentor, co-jurist, espouser of causes, r ...more
I just read and highly recommend Melvin Urofsky’s Louis Brandeis: A Life. This comprehensive and highly readable biography covers everything from Brandeis’s youth in Louisville to his remarkable career as “The People’s Lawyer,” from his lifelong devotion to the Zionist cause to the bitter controversy over his confirmation as the first Jew ever appointed to the United States Supreme Court, from the many fierce battles he fought within the Court during his more than two decades of service to his c ...more

Long book...but worth every minute of reading...Urofsky is a historian that can also write in a manner that reads well. Brandeis was a very interesting person...the only trouble with reading a book like this is that it makes your own life seem so insignificant. Brandeis did more in his life than most people can do in three lives. Truly on to the next Urofsky book.
Mary Whisner
A hefty book about an amazing man. Brandeis was involved in so many activities!
I was especially interested in some of the early material about his law practice.
Oh, there's so much to say.
Excellent, mostly fascinating biography of the great Supreme Court Justice. It is very comprehensive, almost too much so. The sections on his career on the Supreme Court are by far the most interesting parts of the book, but it takes a very long time to get there. I would have liked more on how the Brandeis opinions eventually became law, and less on matters such as the early rate setting cases and the internal politics of the Zionism movement. The biography is very, very favorable to Brandeis a ...more

At times Brandeis was riveting, yet there were segments that caused my eyes to glaze over, whole portions that I found myself skimming. Actually, “skimming” is a euphemism. I literally skipped a chapter or two. However, in a book of almost 1000 pages, that’s not so terrible. Where the biography focused (exhaustively and brilliantly) on Brandeis the intellectual giant, Brandeis the son, brother, friend, husband, father, grandfather, student/former student, mentor, co-jurist, espouser of causes, r
Francis Martinez
Masterful biography that educates the reader, not only on the life and work of one of our most distinguished jurist but also a wonderful history of the early progressive era.
Catherine Woodman
Thank god I had a long travel day with which to read this (although almost immediately I thought I might have done better to buy it on the kindle. It is a 1000 pages, 750 of the actual book, and quite weighty). Interesting book on Brandeis,I learned alot about him, and within the context of his life (which I wasn't that clear on when it was exactly and what his background was). There were alot of holes in the story--he was not a guy who left alot of material behind, so in some ways left more que ...more
Excellent biography that clearly explicates not only the life of Brandeis but also his legal philosophy, the times in which he lived, and his legacy. Although the author clearly has a high regard for Brandeis, he does not hesitate to point out flaws and inconsistencies in some of his judgements as well as relate them to today's circumstances. The book does become a bit dry in the later chapters that review various Supreme Court cases, but all of the case studies are brief and explained in such a ...more
A well-written biography, especially considering the author is a lawyer. Justice Brandeis was ahead of his times in his views on civil liberties, the risk of big business and the role of the legal profession. He was behind the times on race relations, the conflict of interest in having a sitting Supreme Court justice give advice to members of the other branches of government, and the consequence of Jewish settlement in Palestine. The author gave an unvarnished look at the strengths and weaknesse ...more
Ron Spiegelhalter
Interesting at first but becomes plodding. i gave up. Find another book.
Richard Anderson
Very fine overview of his career, good as history and explication of law.
This is an excellent comprehensive biography of a very impressive man. I only wish we had more people today with his ethics and principles and courage. I have read quotes and bits and pieces about this outstanding Supreme Court Justice and was looking forward to learning about him and his life. The author is an expert on Brandeis and wrote in an easy to read manner. The book is long and took quite a commitment of time but I felt it was worth it.
Gordon Smith
Justice Brandeis left an immense legacy, but his life before becoming a Supreme Court justice was more interesting than his life on the Court. Still, fascinating from beginning to end.
Excellent biography of one of the most important of the 20th century Supreme Court justices; disjointed at times (cause for 4 out 5 stars) as a result of the author jumping back and forth between Justice Brandeis' private life; his work as a Zionist; and his development as an attorney and Supreme Court justice. Highly recommended
I'd give this 3.5 stars. The book is great for learning about Brandeis, but I wasn't thrilled with the style (much more thematic than chronological, equal attention given to various subjects, despite some being straightforward and less interesting, and others complex and fascinating).
This was fine. Didn't meet my high expectations.

Brandeis's life was very interesting. But I couldn't get into this quasi-chronological thematic chapter organization. I would prefer the story in chronological order so that it's surprising and dramatic.
Long, slow read...or how to make a fascinating life boring. If you want to read biographers who know how to write, then read Caro, Berg and Morris. Their bios of LBJ, Lindbergh and Teddy Roosevelt are outstanding.
An incredible read. What an amazing man. If the country can repeat history by producing a second Gilded Age, maybe real progressives can make a comeback too.

I learned alot about Brandiex that I did not know, but this bio was not well written.
Too Long. Interesting man.
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MELVIN I. UROFSKY is professor of law and public policy and a professor emeritus of history at Virginia Commonwealth University.
More about Melvin I. Urofsky...
A March of Liberty: A Constitutional History of the United States Volume I: From the Founding to 1890 A March of Liberty: From 1877 to the Present Documents of American Constitutional and Legal History: Volume II: From the Age of Industrialization to the Present Levy Family and Monticello, 1834-1923: Saving Thomas Jefferson's House Documents of American Constitutional and Legal History: Volume I: From the Founding Through the Age of Industrialization

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