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Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas

4.13  ·  Rating details ·  333 ratings  ·  48 reviews
An instant sensation and a National Book Award finalist on publication, Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas reveals that there was in fact much to doubt about the character of Clarence Thomas and his denial of Anita Hill's accusations during the riveting and fractious Supreme Court confirmation hearings. Drawing on hundreds of interviews and scores of documents ...more
Hardcover, 406 pages
Published September 18th 1997 by Houghton Mifflin (first published November 3rd 1994)
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Trish
Mar 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Trish by: Jill Abramson
This detailed account of the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court confirmation hearings in 1991 was written by two experienced reporters, Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson, then working for the Wall Street Journal. Their research suggests there is every indication that Clarence Thomas lied when asked if he made lewd remarks to Anita Hill, and there are plenty of people who can attest his general demeanor is in line with Anita Hill’s testimony. I read this book now because of a recent article by Jill ...more
Julie Ehlers
Vividly I remember, in the fall of 1991, walking back to my college dorm room one afternoon and turning on my tiny dorm-room TV. There was certainly no cable in dorm rooms back then, at least not at my school, so there was only one thing on: the Clarence Thomas Supreme Court hearings—specifically, the part of the proceedings where Anita Hill was being questioned. As I recall it, I put the TV on just in time to hear Arlen Specter suggest that Hill’s testimony was an elaborate scheme to get ...more
Anna
Nov 30, 2013 rated it really liked it
Almost ten years ago, millions of Americans sat in front of their television sets watching the Senate Judiciary Hearings. At issue was whether or not to confirm Judge Clarence Thomas for a seat on the Supreme Court. The viewing public sat on the edge of their seats taking sides, whether to believe the charges Anita Hill brought forth. Was Clarence Thomas guilty of sexual harassment? Who was telling the truth. I, too, couldn't decide and like many African Americans, I cringed at the sight of a ...more
Ms.pegasus
Apr 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone
“Selling” is too benign a term for the 1991 confirmation process of Clarence Thomas to the Supreme Court. “Guerilla war to confirm” might be a more apt description. Revenge was the ruling passion that fueled right-wingers after the failed confirmation of Robert Bork in 1987. Among these were Paul Weyrich, Thomas Jipping, the Rev. Louis Sheldon, and Gary Bauer. Unfamiliar with these names? Unless you are a student of political science, that's possible. Think instead of the Heritage Foundation, ...more
Clif
Sep 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
We've all seen the statue of justice blindfolded, eyes covered so that the accused cannot be seen.

If only justice worked that way! What "Strange Justice" gives the reader is an account of how a process, some might call it a circus, works. While it's true that the rules of a Congressional inquiry are lax compared to those in a court of law, the same factors come into play. Which party, the prosecution or the defense, is more clever in making a case? Read this book to understand why "justice" is
...more
Lobstergirl
Jan 15, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: everyone
Shelves: own, american-history
The fascinating story of how Clarence Thomas ended up on the Court, and how our new Vice President Joe Biden (then chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee) helped him get there.
Helen
Jun 21, 2016 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Adults.
Recommended to Helen by: No-one.
This was a thorough, well-researched account of how Clarence Thomas became a Supreme Court (SC) justice - the answer is he opportunistically became a thoroughly compromised conservative Republican in the era of Reagan/Bush and just managed to get nominated & confirmed in the year before President Bush the First's term of office ended, and the Clinton "era" began.

This is a fascinating book detailing Thomas's ambition from a young age, the fact that affirmative action programs did enable him
...more
Chuck
May 22, 2013 rated it really liked it
Back in 1991, the televised Senate confirmation hearings on Clarence Thomas's candidacy for the Supreme Court were as gripping as they were bizarre. After all, how often do you get to hear senators solemnly discussing a porn star and a passage from The Exorcist? Still, as the hearings unfolded, it seemed natural to suppose that there were significant developments taking place behind the scenes. And indeed there were, as is confirmed by Jane Mayer and Jill Abramson in their terrific and ...more
Monica
Jan 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I didn’t realize the depth of the evidence against Thomas or how poorly Hill was treated. Sadly, so many sentences in the book could have been applied to Kavanaugh/Ford. It’s depressing that nothing has changed.
Mayre
Oct 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I cannot believe how much this book and its content, mirror what's happening now
Gina
Dec 21, 2009 rated it really liked it
This is a very thorough book. It fills out a lot of the information that I was pretty sure about, especially why so many things were kind of understood or unclear. It details not just what happened during the confirmation hearings, but even the politicking that led to Thomas being nominated in the first place.

The story is well-told, but it is a story that is pretty uniformly awful. There is so much deception and viciousness on the side promoting Thomas, and so much incompetence on the side that
...more
Frank
Jan 27, 2011 rated it really liked it
Very informative -- and disturbing -- relation of how Clarence Thomas becoem a jusitce of the Supreme Court. The book was written in 1994, so we can see Thomas today with not so much different eyes, but with clearer vision.

As someone who reacalls hearing the Thomas confirmation hearings on a car radio while en route to Washington, and being incensed at the treatment Anita Hill received, this book puts facts into clearer perspective.

It's ideal reading for anyone who cares about politics, justice,
...more
Oliver Bateman
Nov 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
Perhaps the single best (and best-researched) tell-all books of all time. When you consider this hit shelves in '94 or so, and Thomas had been on the Court for three years...why didn't people care more that this man wallpapered his room in pornography? Or at least, why didn't more people care that this guy was a genuinely weird son of a gun? Ah Joe Biden, greatest Judiciary Committee chairman ever, who gave us such jurists as this!
Jerry Peace
Nov 15, 2013 rated it really liked it
Hypopptuniguiler-noun- a hypocritical opportunist full of guile-see- governmental tenure of Clarence Thomas. Sad book about a sad, sad man
Clay
Apr 25, 2011 is currently reading it
Confirms my low opinion of Bushes, conservatives, and especially of Thomas.
Steve
Jun 12, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Steve by: Jim Braude and Margery Eagan
[Anita Hill] will be injured and destroyed and belittled and hounded and harassed - real harassment - different than the sexual kind.

------Republican Senator Alan Simpson, threatening Ms. Hill before she testified about sexual harassment by Clarence Thomas, page 272


This, I think, is a one-sentence summation of what was most vile about the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Clarence Thomas. That Senators espousing Thomas's cause showed no compunction about bragging of their intended bullying
...more
Matt
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Reading this book was like reading an exceedingly good and painstakingly detailed New Yorker article, which makes sense, since Jane Mayer is one of the authors. She's always been among my favorite journalists and this, the first of the books she's authored or co-authored I've read, is more than a worthy example of her immense talent.

It is, likewise, and much more importantly, a rigorous telling of the politicking and mendacity that surrounded the Clarence Thomas confirmation hearings, which
...more
Marian
This read was part of a resolution to get to some very long-neglected books on my TBR: we're talking more than 20 years this one traveled about from home to home, country to country with me. Worth the wait, as it were? Very much so. Extensively reported and intelligently synthesized, and honestly galling. Though I was a 20-something during the Thomas confirmation hearings and followed them somewhat, there is so much more to the effort to place him on the court than I ever knew.

Even now, the fact
...more
Dennis McCrea
May 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Jane Mayer’s book ‘Dark Money’ from January 2016 is what introduced me to Mayer’s excellent research journalism. She is a co-author here and the book precedes ‘Dark Money by 13 years. And the offensive theme of ‘Dark Money’ one sees as well in this book and the question begs, is it little wonder? This book is but a continued reference to what has transpired in this country via the Reagan Revolution, the Religious Right and what has come to pass today with Trumpism. Those that want to idealize ...more
Kat
Jun 30, 2019 rated it really liked it
Shelves: read-in-2019
In some ways, this book was extremely dated - there were some glaring copy errors that made me wince, and I think Mayer and Abramson were unwilling to engage with the racism surrounding Hill and Wright in the same way that they did about Thomas. (Not to mention the subtitle, which is ... quite wincy.)

Still. There is so much that we don’t know about the Thomas confirmation hearings and it is so clear that this person does not belong on the Supreme Court - and that Joe Biden’s cowardice may mean
...more
Pie Resting-Place
Jan 14, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: recent-events
There's something cute about this book. While Clarence Thomas was relevant again in the light of Brett Kavanaugh's appointment to the supreme court, the real value of this book lies in the snapshot it gives of the state of American politics in the nineties. You can already see the tendencies that would lead the Americans to where they are now, but you can also see that so many norms and democratic institutions were working much better than they have in years.
Renee Taylor
Dec 26, 2018 rated it really liked it
A well written book that gives you the inside story of what went on to sell the idea of Clarence Thomas taking on the role in the Supreme Court. It was an interesting look at the character of Thomas by looking at his background and the basis of the allegations raised by Anita Hill. It is strange justice when all these details are taken into consideration and the end results as they relate to Thomas.
DJ Cheek
Oct 01, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I was quite young when the Thomas confirmation hearings happened, so I had only a cursory understanding of Anita Hill's story. This is a compelling read on its own, and especially so in light of our current situation. Mayer and Abramson have compiled an exhaustive and damning account of Thomas's misdeeds, and the smearing of Anita Hill.
Hannah
May 10, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: gender-studies, legal
I've heard the testimony of Anita Hill referenced so many times in the last year as the "me too" movement has captured society's imagination. I have no memories of her testimony and so found this account fascinating and important to understand. Now I fully understand Rebecca Traister's argument that without Anita Hill, there is no "me too" movement.
Betsy
Dec 12, 2017 rated it liked it
An important read; especially around the political scheming to secure Thomas' nomination, not to mention shame on Democrats & Joe Biden for allowing Hill's reputation to be trashed. I wanted to hear more about Anita Hill & less about Clarence Thomas.
Andrew
Oct 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing
History repeats. Reading in-depth about the Thomas/Hill hearings post-Kavanaugh is as revealing as it is unsurprising. The parallels, while certainly no coincidence, are still astonishing and maddening to anyone who cares about honesty and decency.
Walter Mack
Jul 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shame on Both Parties

Read It And take action. This book is a call to people today to do the right thing no matter what. It is time to read and respect Anita Hill and deplore what happened to her and make a.personal commitment that it will not happen again on your watch.
JK
Jan 10, 2019 rated it it was amazing
If Joe Biden runs for President in 2020, a copy of this book needs to be stapled to his forehead.
Malachy
Jul 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
read to experience unending rage
Matt Medelman
Jan 07, 2019 rated it really liked it
Jane Mayer tells the tale of Democrats failing Anita Hill and everyone else by doing what they do- being less ruthless and organized than Republicans.
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Jane Mayer is a staff writer for The New Yorker and the author of three bestselling and critically acclaimed narrative nonfiction books. She co-authored Landslide: The Unmaking of the President, 1984–1988, with Doyle McManus, and Strange Justice: The Selling of Clarence Thomas, with Jill Abramson, which was a finalist for the National Book Award.

Her book The Dark Side: The Inside Story of How the
...more