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Publisher's Summary

Clarence Darrow is the lawyer every law school student dreams of being: on the side of right, loved by many women, played by Spencer Tracy in Inherit the Wind. His days-long closing arguments delivered without notes won miraculous reprieves for men doomed to hang.
Darrow left a promising career as a railroad lawyer during the tumultuous Gilded Age in order to champion poor workers, blacks, and social and political outcasts against big business, Jim Crow, and corrupt officials. He became famous defending union leader Eugene Debs in the land­mark Pullman Strike case and went from one headline case to the next-until he was nearly crushed by an indictment for bribing a jury. He redeemed himself in Dayton, Tennessee, defending schoolteacher John Scopes in the “Monkey Trial,” cementing his place in history.
Now, John A. Farrell draws on previously unpublished correspondence and memoirs to offer a candid account of Darrow's divorce, affairs, and disastrous finances; new details of his feud with his law partner, the famous poet Edgar Lee Masters; a shocking disclosure about one of his most controversial cases; and explosive revelations of shady tactics he used in his own trial for bribery.
Clarence Darrow is a sweeping, surprising portrait of a leg­endary legal mind.
©2011 John A. Farrell (P)2012 Tantor
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Critic Reviews

"A completely engaging portrait of a flawed man of noble ideals." ( Booklist)
"[This is] vintage Darrow, inspiring, enraging, and, in Farrell's engrossing biography, marvelously alive." ( The New York Times)
"John A. Farrell, with access to previously unavailable materials, brings the 'grandest legal career in American history' to life again in a masterfully researched and elegantly written volume." ( The Boston Globe)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Jean on 09-12-12

The Champion of the poor

I found this biography of Darrow interesting, I learned a lot of information about the politics of the time as well as the social problems leading to worker's unions strikes and as well as the state of the Law. Farrell presented in detail each of Darrow's most famous trials. I was most interested in his defense of Eugene Debs and the Pullman strike. It was covered in another book I read not long ago but from a different point of view. The other trial I was anxious to read about was the John Scope's trial. I had seen the movie with Spencer Tracy but never read about it in detail. Farrell also covers Darrow's early tries at politics and covers his failed marriages and repeated affairs. I was disappointed that Farrell did not mention Earl Rogers as Darrow's attorney when he was tried for jury tampering. Over all this book reveal Darrow as a man with flaws and a great legal mind who had an actors flare when in trial. If you are interested in reading about the fight for the middle class and the Jim Crow laws between 1890 to 1930's you will learn a lot from this book. Danny Campbell did a good job narrating this book.

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8 of 9 people found this review helpful

4 out of 5 stars
By CHET YARBROUGH on 07-14-14


John A. Farrell’s biography of Clarence Darrow shows a human being that carries neither the staff of Moses nor the fork of Beelzebub. Darrow is a man both good and bad, riven with temptation, transgression, and guilt; like all conventionally normal human beings.

Farrell shows Darrow as one above a crowd of 19th century humanists because of a bed-rock belief that no higher authority has the right to murder another. Though Darrow never finishes college, he is shown as a man with an excellent memory, exceptional oratorical skill, and a prescient understanding of human nature. On the road to “Esquiredom”, Darrow–a literary omnivore, reads and quotes the lions of literature.

Darrow believes all human beings, by nature, are flawed and capable of minor and/or major transgressions. Because of Darrow’s view of human nature, he earned a reputation for defending the poor and powerless; representing heinous murderers, reviled minorities, divorcing wives, and indigent families. Whether guilty or innocent, Darrow defended the accused. He charged the highest rates for those who could afford it, and charged as little as possible for those with limited resources. Farrell shows Darrow on the right side of history, supporting union movements and civil rights for Negroes and women when both are anathema to most government and business leaders.

This is an excellent biography; well narrated by Danny Campbell. Farrell shows Darrow to be a flawed hero that helped turn the tide of capitalist greed and American’ discrimination; both of which are battles still raging in the 21st century.

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2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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