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Doing Justice: A Prosecutor's Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law

4.28  ·  Rating details ·  4,009 ratings  ·  516 reviews
By the one-time federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, an important overview of the way our justice system works, and why the rule of law is essential to our society. Using case histories, personal experiences and his own inviting writing and teaching style, Preet Bharara shows the thought process we need to best achieve truth and justice in our daily li ...more
Kindle Edition, 368 pages
Published March 19th 2019 by Knopf
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Start your review of Doing Justice: A Prosecutor's Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law
The first third of the book didn't thrill me.> But the rest of the book was ace! Most interesting was how and why prosecutors make decisions and how they proceed with cases. Nothing is free from corruption or politics. It seems that a great deal of time is spent 'flipping' other criminals, getting them to be snitches, grasses, or as the author calls them, "co-operators". A slightly uncomfortable (to me) expression was talking about when these informants came to "proffer". I don't think of the wo ...more
Laurie Anderson
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Made me want to sell everything and go to law school. Highly recommended.
I saw an interview with Bharara on PBS. I found it so interesting, I bought the book. Preet Bharara is a former federal prosecutor for the Southern District of New York. The television show Perry Mason inspired a generation to go into the field of law. This book could inspire another generation to do the same.

The book is well written and easy to read. Bharara discusses the law, moral issues, and does so in a conversational tone with interesting anecdotes. The author covers everything from the cr
The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York (SDNY) tries cases that originate in New York’s financial centers, but also covers high-profile cases that have national and international resonance. Over two hundred lawyers and equally as many support staff work to administer law enforcement oversight to eight New York counties. Its resources, reach, and independence have earned it the nickname “The Sovereign Court” among members of the legal profession. SDNY attracts capab ...more
Tom Mathews
Of all the books written recently by people who have been fired by President Donald Trump, the one written by former chief prosecutor for the SDNY Federal Court Preet Bharara is the only one that does not focus on the events leading up to said firing. That isn't to say that the book ignores the Trump presidency or that there are no references to it. More than anything, this is book about what it takes to be a good prosecutor, a good attorney, and also, to a large degree, what it takes to be a go ...more
Preet Bharara appeared on my radar by getting fired. He was previously head US Attorney of SDNY and he was fired by Donald Trump. He stayed on my radar due to several of his appearances on liberal news media programs. I liked what he had to say, so I requested a copy of the audiobook from my library and here we are.

This book is not about politics, though politics do play a part in our justice system. If you're looking to read this book to hear Mr. Bharara trash Trump, you're looking in the wrong
I read this because I have enjoyed and admired Preet Bharara's public presence as an anti-Trump voice. He's thoughtful and intelligent and the kind of man who is everything Trump isn't. This book wasn't as political as I had hoped, but it was a great overview of the different parts of the justice system and how important ethics are in each of them--and while he doesn't directly say a whole lot about the president, his views on what the right thing to do is often serve as rebuke to the lack of et ...more
Apr 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I love Preet Bharara. I never miss his podcast each week, "Stay Tuned," and I think he is one of the most credible and measured voices in the American landscape today. I was prepared throughout most of the book to give this a four-star rating at the very least, but the last few pages bumped it up to a resounding five stars. Everyone should read this book.
Jul 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
This was a wonderful look at justice from a former federal
prosecutor's POV. He offered many case examples. He
worked for the Senate Judiciary Committee, & vetted
candidates for federal judgeships for Senator Schumer.
President Trump extended his term as US Attorney and
then several mos. later, in a political move, fired him.
Mr. Bharara is employed as a NYU Law School professor
& a CNN legal analyst.

Federal prosecutors of the Southern District in New York
(SDNY) initiated civil and criminal case
Carly Friedman
Preet Bharara, a former prosecutor for the Southern District of New York, wrote an insightful and interesting book about the legal system and how it relates to many aspects of life. I wanted a bit more legal information but overall the book was informative and very enjoyable.

In the first section, I enjoyed his perspectives on the fact-finding part of prosecution. He relates it to the importance of asking ALL the question. This can be hard for over-achievers who are used to knowing all the answer
Lu Han
Jul 01, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I DON'T read non-fiction but I got this book free from work and it was like just lying around staring at me (I swear it was just glaring at me) so I decided to pick it up, and the next thing I knew I was devouring this book. Bharara has this way of grabbing your attention with these really interesting anecdotes, real life cases and his experiences. I was utterly captivated and horrified at times, but enjoying every minute. I also really enjoyed how human Bharara came off, and didn't have a detac ...more
David Quinn
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The clunky title sounds like something out of a Family Guy! episode and the cover art is bland and unimaginative but getting past these shortfalls is easy with Bharara's talent for storytelling. His intelligent, thoughtful and thought provoking style reminded me of Atul Gawande's excellent book Complications.

Bharara takes the reader through the major facets of the criminal justice system by way of personal reflection and relevant stories. The material is accessible to all readers regardless of t
❤Marie Gentilcore
This was a very informative look at the federal prosecutor’s office as experienced by Preet Bharara. What I enjoyed most about this book was the cases Mr. Bharara used to illustrate his message. He starts off with a case that turns out to be the Melendez brothers, who were personal friends of a friend who was certain they couldn't be guilty. It was all very fascinating.
Andy Miller
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Some reviews compare Preet Bharara's book unfavorably to his much followed tweets, after reading this nuanced book long discussion on "Doing Justice" I think those reviews sadly reflect on today's attention span and not on the book.
Bharara divides his book into different chapters, each discussing a different phase of the criminal justice system, each reflecting thoughtful analysis based on experience of a prosecutor who has been there. For example, in his chapter on informants he writes
Joseph Sciuto
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Mr Preet Bharar served as U.S. Attorney for the famous Southern District of New York from 2009 to 2017. He is famously remembered, recently, for being unceremoniously fired by President Trump, after the President extended his term.

The Southern District is known for its independence, and its notoriety for prosecuting some of the biggest, headline making cases in the United States and aboard. They have handled cases involving terrorism, bank fraud, corrupt politicians, drug kingpins and the mob. A
Mar 21, 2019 rated it did not like it
Shelves: could-not-finish
I am not really sure what makes American public figures write as if they are preachers or teachers? Why are they constantly on some kind of morality high horse?
Why do they treat their reader as if we are at worst, wayward teens, and at best, poor souls who are in serious need of a life coach.
James Comey did this in his otherwise fairly interesting book.
Michelle Obama did the same in her memoir.
And now we have Preet Bharara. It feels like they all have the same editor or the same writing teache
Apr 13, 2019 rated it really liked it
Interesting observations and anecdotes about law and justice, largely based on Bharara's legal career. My favorite chapter was about the value of asking questions.... even "dumb" questions are useful.
Justin Tapp
Nov 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Doing Justice: A Prosecutor's Thoughts on Crime, Punishment, and the Rule of Law by Preet Bharara

This may be my favorite book of 2019 thus far. I thought this book might be a screed against the Trump Administration, but it's not; Trump or his associates only occasionally get mentioned. The author is writing as formerly the U.S. Attorney for the Southern District of New York from 2009-2017, where he managed an office of prosecutors. This jurisdiction handles a lot of cases with large firms listed
I truly cherish Preet Bharara. His podcast is a delight. My enjoyment of this book may suffer from the happenstance that I just re-read Bryan Stevenson's Just Mercy immediately before. That is a deep story of someone holding our nation to its creed against titanic forces.

Doing Justice is the story of someone who wielded those titanic forces, as counsel to a senator and as the United States Attorney for the Southern District of New York. Preet Bharara did heroic work. He took on corrupt politici
Franke James
Mar 21, 2019 rated it it was amazing
In these confusing times, when jaw-dropping crimes by the powerful receive only a light slap on the wrist, while petty crimes by the powerless receive years and years behind bars, I ache for reassurance that there are prosecutors, who really care about doing justice. Preet Bharara's book convinced me there are, and he is one of them.

I enjoyed reading "Doing Justice". Preet Bharara's voice is conversational, down to earth, always smart and often funny.

The book is divided into four sections: Inqu
Former Federal Prosecutor Preet Bharara’s nonfiction book Doing Justice was my favorite read of 2019. A unique mix of opinion essays, memoir, history, and even true crime, Bharara reflects on case histories and his personal experiences to explain our current justice system and his critiques of it.

If you have even a passing interest in the legal field or the US government, pick Doing Justice up. Bharara covers a wide range of topics divided into four parts, Inquiry, Accusation, Judgement, and Pun
Apr 04, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2019, nonfiction, crime
I am a great devotée of Bharara's podcast and pre-ordered this book for pub-day Kindle delivery, but I think he's a better speaker and interviewer than writer. The book contains some sophisticated musings on justice (and especially on restraint and mercy) and some engaging stories about prosecuting crimes. It also has cheesy sports metaphors.

And the occasional freestanding clause.

What I mean is that there is a disconnect between the sophistication of Preet's ideas and his writing that doesn't ex
Apr 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I listen to Preet Bharara's podcast every week. We have a lot of differences politically, and I don't agree with him on everything, but he is intelligent, respectful, and articulate. He's principled, moral, and very well thought out.
His book was great- a very thoughtful and interesting reflection on his time as a federal prosecutor.
Preet Bharara introduces the legal system and walks the reader thru the Inquiry, Accusation, Judgment and Punishment. He brings up the challenges for honest investigators, attorneys, judges, and defenders at each stage.

Why I started this book: I knew of Bharara not from his work, but from Donald Trump's pettiness and from Samantha Bee's blanket fort interview. It was enough to get me to pick up this book and I'm glad that I did.

Why I finished it: Bahara spends time discussing the particulars bu
Jodi Keller
Apr 18, 2019 rated it liked it
It pains me to only give this 3 stars. I love Preet. LOVE him. He's the most badass crusader for justice that ever lived. I would vote for him for president in a heartbeat. Heck, I'd probably marry him if he asked. But, I have to admit, the subject matter of this book just didn't hold my attention. Sure, there were some interesting little tidbits from real cases. Particularly Skelos and Silver. But for the most part, it was less than compelling.

Any other author would have gotten 2 stars. The ex
Apr 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! I couldn’t put it down. I thought it was a unique take on explaining the justice system without feeling overwhelmed by legal mumbo-jumbo. This book kept me engaged. I hope he writes more.
Joe Kurtek
Apr 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Damn - what a good book. Highly recommend this one. Really enjoyed reading it.
Samarth Gupta
Apr 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
Easy to read book about the thought processes of prosecutors. Uses a lot of a great examples and stories. Pretty inspiring.

“After all, every human being’s life in this world is inevitably mixed with every other life and, no matter what laws we pass, no matter what precautions we take, unless the people we meet are kindly and decent and human and liberty-loving, then there is no liberty. Freedom comes from human beings, rather than from laws and institutions.” - darrow

“Smart laws do not assure ju
Jan 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
So my full disclosure of bias on this review is that I was a court stenographer at SDNY for most of Preet's tenure as both an AUSA and as the US Attorney. So part of my love for this book is based on nostalgia and the fact that I remembered many of the cases written about, whether through personal experience or of just office lunchroom chatter among my coworkers covering the cases. The fact that I could put actual faces to so many names mentioned in this book was exciting. But aside from the nos ...more
Mitzi Moore
Feb 09, 2020 rated it liked it
Interesting tales of a semi-famous former US Attorney
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“After all, every human being’s life in this world is inevitably mixed with every other life and, no matter what laws we pass, no matter what precautions we take, unless the people we meet are kindly and decent and human and liberty-loving, then there is no liberty. Freedom comes from human beings, rather than from laws and institutions.” 6 likes
“Self-doubt in moderation is animating and motivating, not paralyzing. Leaders who have purged themselves of all self-doubt will not be leaders for long and, in my view, are dangerous while in command. I learned, over time, that self-doubt is my friend, and arrogance my enemy.” 5 likes
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