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Using the framework of the contentious five-day Senate hearing to confirm Marshall as the first African-American Supreme Court justice, Haygood creates a provocative and moving look at Marshall's life as well as the politicians, lawyers, activists, and others who shaped - or desperately tried to stop - the civil rights movement of the 20th century: President Lyndon Johnson; Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., whose scandals almost cost Marshall the Supreme Court judgeship; Harry and Harriette Moore, the NAACP workers killed by the KKK; Justice J. Waties Waring, a racist lawyer from South Carolina, who, after being appointed to the federal court, became such a champion of civil rights that he was forced to flee the South; John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy; Senator Strom Thurmond, the renowned racist from South Carolina, who had a black mistress and child; North Carolina senator Sam Ervin, who tried to use his Constitutional expertise to block Marshall's appointment; Senator James Eastland of Mississippi, the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who stated that segregation was "the law of nature, the law of God"; Arkansas senator John McClellan, who, as a boy, after Teddy Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House, wrote a prize-winning school essay proclaiming that Roosevelt had destroyed the integrity of the presidency; and so many others.
This galvanizing book makes clear that it is impossible to overestimate Thurgood Marshall's lasting influence on the racial politics of our nation.
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By Jean on 12-12-15
Haygood is master of the ticktock narrative
“Showdown” is not a standard biography. Haygood frames the book through the confirmation fight of Thurgood Marshall. The author provides flashbacks to provide more information of the life of Thurgood Marshall and the various Senators of the Justice Committee. The suspense build and build as Marshal faced off against a wolf pack of Southern Senators who were determined to block his nomination to the Supreme Court in July 1967. President Johnson let these white supremacist senators know he would just continue to nominate one black person after another in a showdown with the Dixiecrats.
Historically only a handful of Supreme Court nominees had faced much scrutiny from the Senate until the Marshall hearings in 1967, which changed all nominations since then. The Chairman of the Judicial Committee was an unabashed white supremacist, Senator James Eastland of Mississippi. Eastland’s father lead a lynching of a black man on his cotton plantation and his daughter was crowned Miss Confederacy in 1956. Eastland conducted the hearings with open hostility of Marshall. Marshall faced one after the other of the old Southern bulls of the Committee such as Strom Thurmond and Sam Ervin. Everett Dirksen, a Republican, led a coalition of Senators to successfully confirm Marshall’s appointment to the Supreme Court.
The book is well written and well researched. Haygood does a good job avoiding getting mired in legal jargon. If you are interested in Civil Rights or the Supreme Court this is a must read for you. Reading this book and listening to the current news I am struck that this country has not changed its racial prejudice, until now I had believed we had overcome our racial prejudice and fear of people that have different believes, but current events have proved me wrong. Dominic Hoffman did an excellent job narrating the book; his accents were good except for that of Robert and Edward Kennedy.
7 of 8 people found this review helpful
By Stephen on 05-04-17
The Narrator Mumbles
This narrator had a tendency to mumble and poorly enunciated his words. The book was not well written.
If you want to listen / read a good book on Thurgood Marshall I would recommend Gilbert King's Devil in the Grove.
2 of 2 people found this review helpful