Vanderbilt Law Review

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Book Reviews

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Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality By Richard Kluger

Reviewed by Paul L. Murphy

Richard Kluger is a novelist and editor who retired to devote his full time to an extensive study of the landmark Supreme Court decision of Brown v. Board of Education.' Perceiving the Brown decision as a watershed with respect to America's willingness to confront the consequences of centuries of racial discrimination, Kluger set out to tell the entire story of the Brown decision. Kluger approaches the Brown case not as a study of the law and its permutations, but as a study of "how law and men interact, how social forces of the past collide with those of the present, and how the men selected as America's ultimate arbiters of justice have chosen to define that quality with widely varying regard for the emotional content of life itself."'


American Lawyers in a Changing Society, 1776-1876 By Maxwell Bloomfield

Reviewed by Richard E. Ellis

This book has a number of virtues. It is fluently and, at times,even engagingly written. Its research is wide ranging. It is often suggestive. It is critical of other interpretations without being pretentious and arrogant. Yet, it is also a book with serious flaws. It lacks focus and balance, and it fails to elaborate adequately on its most important points. It frequently offers interpretations that are confusing and questionable, and, despite the promise of the title, it does not relate adequately the legal profession to the changing nature of American society in the hundred years after independence.


Unequal Justice: Lawyers and Social Change in Modern America: By Jerold S. Auerbach.

Reviewed by Sanford Levinson

Jerold Auerbach, professor of American history at Wellesley College, has written an extremely valuable, but vexing, study of the social and political attitudes of America's legal elite during the twentieth century. Its value lies in Auerbach's demonstration of the social conservatism, at times sliding over into abject bigotry, that motivated many venerable leaders of the American Bar. Any image of the Bar as genuinely committed to meritocracy-the linking of Bar membership and leadership to attributes other than proper racial, religious, or social background-must collapse in the face of the evidence collected by Auerbach. Insofar as one value of historical understanding is simply the chastening of our tendency toward idealization of the past, Auerbach has performed a real service.