Erik Graff's Reviews > The Last Trials of Clarence Darrow

The Last Trials of Clarence Darrow by Donald McRae
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's review
Jan 03, 2012

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bookshelves: biography
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Recommended for: Darrow fans
Read in January, 2012 — I own a copy , read count: 1

Like so many other high school students I was introduced to Clarence Darrow by the play Inherit the Wind. Later in life I learned of his relations with the early 20th century labor movement and with such socialist notables as Eugene Victor Debs and Carl Sandburg. Most recently I read a history of the Scopes trial.

This book focuses on three of his last and most important trials: Leopold & Loeb, Scopes and Sweet--the last of which was news to me. The author ties them together with something like a biography of the lawyer as an adult by drawing upon his correspondence with a one-time lover and long-time friend, Mary Field, as well as upon her own journals and interviews. While the trial descriptions are good, the constant return to Ms. Field often seems strained, as if the author were trying to maintain her importance even through period when the two of them were distant. Here I imagine he simply was at pains to produce the new information his research had uncovered as regards their relationship. Unfortunately, the material generally detracts from tale.

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