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My Grandfather's Son

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  2,747 ratings  ·  463 reviews
Provocative, inspiring, and unflinchingly honest, My Grandfather's Son is the story of one of America's most remarkable and controversial leaders, Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas, told in his own words.

Thomas speaks out, revealing the pieces of his life he holds dear, detailing the suffering and injustices he has overcome, including the acrimonious and polarizing Sen
Hardcover, 289 pages
Published October 1st 2007 by Harper
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Average rating 4.13  · 
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 ·  2,747 ratings  ·  463 reviews

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Dec 28, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: adults
I really enjoyed this book. If someone had asked me a month ago if I would like to read Thomas' autobiography, I would have looked at them like they were crazy! :)

But, I saw him interviewed recently on EWTN by Raymond Arroyo and I was stunned by how humble and self-effacing this Supreme Court justice was. In 1991, when he was confirmed to the SC, I was newly married and politically naive. I pretty much thought Anita Hill was a poor victim to this brutal man...just what the media wanted me to bel
Marvin Watts
Jul 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing
One of my heroes, a man who had to struggle for what he wanted to achieve. He didn't blame others for whatever mistakes he may have made. He took personal responsibility for them. It was a shame what his enemies put him through, but he's a Supreme Court justice.
Patrick Peterson
Apr 14, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: young people, libertarians,
May 2014? - Justice Thomas reads this book himself. Very sober, deliberate style. It might even be considered a bit boring in the beginning. But gradually it builds into a gripping tale of perseverance and strong, independent characters.

At the end of the 2nd of 9 CDs (12 hours), he is about a 20 or 21 year old junior at Holy Cross College, and he just discovered "Ann Rand." He says he did not accept all the tenets of Rand's philosophy of Objectivism, but it made much sense of the world. It was c
Kevin Brooks
Jan 14, 2008 rated it it was amazing

I must say that this book is as pivotal, revolutionary and impacting as the The Auto-Biography of Malcom-X, a book I read in college at Grambling State University over 15 years ago. Malcom X’s story had a tremendous impact on my life.
I am proud to say that this book is a must read for anyone who says that they are concerned with the plight of Black folks in America. ......Clarence Thomas epitomizes The Courage TO Be as Paul TIllich profoundly purports in his book of the same title. As I read t
Nate Cooley
Justice Thomas's book, "My Grandfather's Son", was to me an enthralling and incredibly introspective story on how one of the most enigmatic public figures in our nation's recent history got to where he is today.

For a long time, Clarence Thomas has been a mystery to me (and I am sure to many others as well). In "My Grandfather's Son" though, Justice Thomas opens the shutters to his life (his words, not mine) and bares his soul. He talks openly about what it was like to be abandoned by his father
Oct 29, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: Legal Minds/Well Intentioned Liberals
This is a must read for any person who reads Thomas' SCOTUS opinions and think "WTF IS HE THINKING"? A very important back story on Justice Thomas' difficult and and poverty-stricken personal history. Raised by his grandfather to believe that personal responsibility is the ONLY way to succeed in your life, he is a true believer of the "pull-yourself-up-by-the-bootstraps" philosophy.

His opinion in Grutter v. Bollinger (the University of Michigan/affirmative action cases) makes much more sense in
May 29, 2016 rated it it was ok
2.5 stars. First, the good. The opening 50 pages or so are spectacular. Justice Thomas grew up in rural poverty in tiny Pinpoint, GA. The details are fascinating, especially about how his family coped with living in a segregated society. His tales about his grandparents and their discipline (especially from his grandfather) are told so lovingly and with such heart. It's clear that Justice Thomas believes that he owes so much of his life and success to the lessons he learned from his grandfather. ...more
Sam Taylor
Jun 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing
One of my favorite books that I have ever read. A strongly written memoir authored by my favorite SCOTUS justice, Justice Thomas’ story has left me inspired and motivated. Thomas’ life up to his confirmation to the Supreme Court is one that shows how small steps are necessary in becoming a leader and how challenging the accuracy of conventional thought is required when deciding what to stand for.
May 26, 2008 rated it it was ok
Recommended to jimstoic by: Judge Brian Hill
Shelves: law
My Constitutional Law professor loaned this to me. I found it interesting. There's actually a lot inspiring about Justice Thomas's story. Unfortunately it's told with a lack of self awareness. For example, here's his description of a meeting with Women Employed (p. 165):

"About a hundred mostly white women showed up. They gave every impression of being successful, and judging by the questions they asked me, they were smart and sophisticated as well. Yet I couldn't understand how angry they seemed
May 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
“And now you know the rest of the story.”

This autobiography by Clarence Thomas is amazing. Looking at both sides now, I have to say Clarence Thomas’ credibility has risen off the charts for me. Back in 1991, I watched the confirmation hearings and wondered a few times, “Wow, could he really have said these things?” even though I was rooting for him to be nominated. I did think Anita Hill sounded a little too slick, but once in a while I questioned it. While watching these hearings, I was in awe
Dec 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Loved this autobiography. Clarence had a rough start in life but ended up living with his grandpa (“Daddy”) who (despite very little money and intense prejudice in their community) did everything he could to help Clarence learn to work hard and make something of his life. Clarence tells it like it is but doesn’t fall into the victim mentality, despite the racial prejudice he faced throughout his life. He feels very strongly that affirmative action is not in the best interest of blacks: while att ...more
Jennefer Free
May 11, 2008 rated it really liked it
I was in college when the Senate confirmation hearings for the nomination of Clarence Thomas were taking place. It was the first time that I had become really interested in any current or political event. I became so engulfed in what to me was the apparent injustice with which he was being treated; I couldn't stop watching the hearing. I cut class for a few days so that I could participate as a spectator.
I thoroughly enjoyed reading Thomas’ personal account of his life. The progression and refin
Christian D.  Orr
Dec 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A thoroughly readable, insightful, and informative book, that gives his first-hand insight into the life and mindset of Justice Thomas. An eye-opening look at how he overcame extreme poverty (for example, carrying all of his belongings in two grocery bags) and racism (not just from whites, but suprisingly from lighter-skinned blacks as well) during his childhood in the Jim Crow-era Deep South, the values and work ethic instilled in him by his "Daddy" (his maternal grandfather), his collegiate ye ...more
Jan 18, 2016 rated it really liked it
Clarence Thomas is a man who has succeeded because of his intellect, astonishing work ethic, persistence, drive, and faith. In his memoir, "My Grandfather's Son", he details the life that these qualities created. The fact that he seems to not be bitter is testament to his personal faith and integrity. I picked up the book knowing very little about Thomas' life before the infamous confirmation hearings. Everything that happened before than is vastly more interesting. The section on his youth and ...more
Todd Kruse
Sep 15, 2013 rated it liked it
Overall I enjoyed this book because I learned a great deal about Justice Thomas' childhood and his struggles with drinking and financial challenges. I had no idea of the problems he dealt with on his way to the Supreme Court but he did not 'close the loop' really on these personal struggles which leaves a reader wondering if Thomas has managed these demons.

I was left with the impression that Justice Thomas was never really at peace with himself so given his lifetime tenure on the Court as a Jus
Oct 16, 2013 added it
Excellent! Judge Thomas is candid about his struggles as a successful black man in a white world. Pulls no punches regarding the negative aspects of the political scene but also doesn't white wash his own failings and negative attitudes. The concluding chapters, detailing the ordeal he went through prior to his confirmation to the Supreme Court, were powerful. His spiritual journey, away from his early faith and then back to an even stronger, closer walk with God was inspiring.
Rohit Sudarshan
Aug 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Painful and poignant, Clarence Thomas’ memoir very much made me feel the intense bigotry of segregated Georgia but also the intolerance of the Catholic Church and the prejudice of elite institutions. In laying bare its impact on his psyche, Thomas makes himself remarkably vulnerable in ways that few powerful people are willing to do. He describes the feeling of shame at being called ABC (America’s Blackest Child) by his African American childhood peers and the hateful eyes and slurs that accompa ...more
Aug 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing
In these emotionally-charged times of perceived racial injustice, it is refreshing to read the modest memoir of Supreme Court Associate Justice Clarence Thomas. By shedding light on his own remarkable path from utter poverty to his current position, it is plain that there are and have been considerable opportunities available for hard-working Americans of all races. It is also clear how unrelenting the political process can be.

The book focuses on the events leading to Thomas' turbulent Supreme
Jul 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: All open-minded persons.
Recommended to David by: Lauded by some newsman commenting on Trump's new supreme-court nomination
Memoir begins with Thomas's hard-scrabble childhood and ends with his hard-fought confirmation to the U.S. Supreme Court. And yes, everything about his life to that point was HARD.

The opening material about growing up poorer-than-dirt-poor in the Jim Crow South is eye-opening and something worth reading to today's fortunate children. But his upbringing by his disciplined and determined grandparents molded his character and his faith. At times he wandered from his faith, and sometimes he drank t
Feb 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
This was extremely readable and an inspirational biography. Thomas was raised by his grandfather as his parents were not able to or didn't care to raise him. His grandfather was extremely strict, made him work from dawn to night. Lived in Georgia where life was too easy in the summer and youth got in trouble, so grandparents built a home on a farm where Thomas and his brother couldn't be around bad influence and had to work hard. He had a tough life but when he became an adult he realized he own ...more
Erin Bottger (Bouma)
Jul 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
As I read this autobiography of Clarence Thomas, the man grew substantially before my eyes. From a rural Georgia boyhood of barefoot poverty and dislocation, he journeyed, along with his militant generation of Blacks, through the Jim Crow South, on to radical college days, Yale Law School, pioneering government work, a failed marriage, controversial public prominence, remarriage, and an embattled acceptance hearing to serve on the U.S. Supreme Court.

And, the rock that got him through was his gr
Patti Alexander
Jun 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A great read about his life & the grandfather who saved him ...more
Jan 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
What an amazing story of a child born into poverty, raised in poverty by grandparents determined to give him a better life and is now serving on the Supreme Court. Honest and painful at times, Judge Thomas doesn't pull any punches about mistakes he made, yet his determination to live life for the long term inspires the reader to strive to do his best no matter what the circumstances.
Apr 24, 2008 rated it really liked it
I can’t say I’m terribly interested in either race or politics, so the fact that a) I sought out this book (this was following a glimpse of an interview with Justice Clarence Thomas; my father-in-law shared it with me a year ago while we were on vacation) and b) I actually enjoyed this rather compelling memoir was surprising.

Like many others of my generation (okay, I took a nonscientific poll consisting of one other person — my husband), we’ve heard of Clarence Thomas but knew almost nothing abo
Mar 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2015, biography
Thomas tells the story of his life from his childhood in Pinpoint, GA, to his first days as Supreme Court Justice. He credits above all his maternal grandfather, "Daddy," with making him the man that he is today. When his mother could not care for him and his brother, they came into the home of and under the law of "Daddy," a man who was tough, rigid, unyielding, rode his grandsons hard and pushed them to excellence, but certainly not with compliments and platitudes. Steps along the way for Thom ...more
May 06, 2013 rated it really liked it
"Only the person who takes the voyage can really talk about it."

Clarence Thomas's life is what we used to call an American Success Story. My Grandfather's Son details is life from being born in rural poverty to becoming an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Thomas was abandoned by his father and, at age 9, was shipped off by his mother to be raised by her parents. After the dual assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy in 1968, young Clarence's life fractured. He dropped
Jeff Raymond
To say that Clarence Thomas is one of the most polarizing Supreme Court justices is probably an understatement, and given that his confirmation was over 20 years ago at this point, many of us coming into politics now, or coming into it in the last decade, know very little of him outside of what is reported and what happens on the Supreme Court.

It was with some excitement (after having a copy of this book for nearly five years) and trepidation that I picked this up to read with all of that in min
T.E. George
Jan 20, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
This book showed up in the mail from a book club I belong to. I didn't order it but decided why not give it a read. Of course I watched some of the senate hearings when Justice Thomas was nominated for the bench. And, in shameful honesty, I also got caught up in the soap opera of Anita Hill's testimony and Justice Thomas' response. Beyond that I admit I knew nothing about the man.

As a general rule I do not read movie reviews before going to the movies. Why should I let someone else decide for me
Aug 17, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I began this book with a love/hate relationship. I loved some of the views Thomas expressed early on his book, but I started hating him in the middle chapters as he made some very condemnable choices in his private life -- I generally try to avoid being judgmental like that but I was turning to this book so that I could learn from someone I could respect, so I wasn't too happy with it in the middle. BUT, the last three or four chapters are amazing.

After a tumultuous couple decades in his private
Oct 01, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Loved, loved, loved this book. It is the American dream at its essence, as well as a great study in perseverance and courage. I appreciated Thomas' approach to telling his story, making no excuses for missteps and bad decisions, disclosing the good and the bad, and ultimately learning lessons from his life experiences. It was gratifying to understand where he came from & how his character & beliefs were shaped by that. It was equally gratifying that he did not blame his family for the problems h ...more
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Clarence Thomas is an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, having served since 1991. Justice Thomas is the second African American to serve on the nation's highest court, after Justice Thurgood Marshall, whom he succeeded.

Thomas grew up in Georgia, and graduated from college and law school in New England. In 1974, he was appointed an Assistant Attorney General in Missouri (

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There's something great about a paperback book: They're perfect book club choices, you can throw them in your bag and go, and they've been out in...
26 likes · 3 comments
“I could tell...that my friends were doing their best to get across the message that I wasn't Frankenstein's monster but a perfectly normal human being. What they didn't understand was that my opponents didn't care who I was. Even if they had wanted to know the truth about me, it would have made no sense to them, since I refused to stay in my place and play by their rules and was too complicated to fit into their simple-minded, stereotypical pigeonholes. In any case, I couldn't be defeated without first being caricatured and dehumanized...[T]hey couldn't allow my life to be seen as the story of an ordinary person who, like most people, had worked out his problems step by unsure step. That would have been too honest-and too human.” 9 likes
“Merely because I was black, it seemed, I was supposed to listen to Hugh Maskela instead of Carole King, just as I was expected to be a radical, not a conservative. I no longer cared to play that game ... The black people I knew came from different places and backgrounds - social, economic, even ethnic - yet the color of our skin was somehow supposed to make us identical in spite of our differences. I didn't buy it. Of course we had all experienced racism in one way or another, but that did not mean we had to think alike” 8 likes
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