Anna Engel's Reviews > A Civil Action

A Civil Action by Jonathan Harr
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's review
Aug 16, 2011

liked it

I first read A Civil Action just about 5 years ago exactly. Now that I work in the environmental consulting field, everything makes so much more sense, and, thus, is more interesting. I better understand the plaintiffs' fears and also the enormity of the task facing their lawyers in researching and putting together a case of this magnitude. The amount of money, paper documentation, manpower, and expertise that was needed is mind-boggling, especially considering my current part in that process.

The book is divided into well-defined sections, much as the trial was: the stories of the plaintiffs, the build-up to the trial, the trial itself, the deliberations of the jury, and the outcome. The final quarter of the book gets pretty frustrating because it centers around how much money is being pissed away by the plaintiffs' lawyers.

Overall, the book is very well done and makes a serious stab at telling the whole story without giving in to sensationalism.

I've since ordered a couple of other books on Woburn, so it will be interesting to see how each one takes on the complex issues of cancer clusters, causation, liability, and public fear.

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