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The Story Of My Life [Paperback]

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Book Description

1 Aug 1996
In The Story of My Life recounts, and reflects on, his more than fifty years as a corporate, labor, and criminal lawyer, including the most celebrated and notorious cases of his day: establishing the legal right of a union to strike in the Woodworkers' Conspiracy Case; exposing, on behalf of the United Mine Workers, the shocking conditions in the mines and the widespread use of child labor; defending Leopold and Loeb in the Chicago "thrill" murder case; defending a teacher's right to present the Darwinian theory of evolution in the famous Scopes trial; fighting racial hatred in the Sweet anti-Negro and the Scottsboro cases; and much more. Written in his disarming, conversational style, and full of refreshingly relevant views on capital punishment, civil liberties, and the judicial system, Darrow's autobiography is a fitting final summation of a remarkable life.

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The Story Of My Life + The Old Devil: Clarence Darrow: The World's Greatest Trial Lawyer + The Essential Words and Writings of Clarence Darrow (Modern Library Classics)
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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: DaCapo Press (1 Aug 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0306807386
  • ISBN-13: 978-0306807381
  • Product Dimensions: 22 x 14 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 366,449 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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About the Author

In 1894 Clarence S. Darrow (1857--1938) resigned from his lucrative job as chief counsel for the Chicago and North Western Railway to defend, without fee, Eugene V. Debs, president of the nascent American Railway Union. This bold action--the first of many--marked the beginning of one of the most extraordinary and influential legal careers in American history.

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IT may seem absurd that I should be sitting here trying to write about myself in an age when only a mystery story has any chance as a best-seller. Read the first page
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
definitely an excellent read. for those who have read "clarence darrow for the defence" and enjoyed it, this book may very well make you feel like you are visiting an old friend.
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Amazon.com: 4.7 out of 5 stars  13 reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars thehobophilosopher 12 Aug 2007
By Richard E. Noble - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
We don't hear or read all that much about Clarence Darrow these days. He was clearly what is termed a "liberal." Actually the American derisive version of the term "liberal" may have been coined in his honor.

Clarence once gave a speech at a prison where he lectured on his theory of the nature and origin of crime and its treatment and cure. When he was done a reporter interviewed some of the prisoners who were in attendance. They all thought that Clarence was a very kind and understanding man but even they, as criminals, couldn't bring themselves to be quite so understanding about their own criminal natures as Mr. Darrow was.

Though he was an agnostic or even possibly an atheist, he believed in destiny or fate when it came to the determination of an individual's life. He felt that a man or human being was no more capable of deterring his destiny than a planet hurdling through space could alter its direction or change its course.

If there is a God and consequently a devil, I have no doubt that at the Final Judgment, Clarence Darrow will be on hand to bring before the Almighty the case for the Devil and his right to be evil. I can hear him now: "Didn't you know, my God Almighty, when you created the devil that he would be evil and do evil things? And since you must have known the devil would be evil when you created him can you truly consider Yourself to be "All Just" in condemning him now? What kind of an omniscient, infinitely loving God are you? What kind of infinite justice are you pretending to practice here anyway?"

Clarence Darrow only defended people. He was called "The Attorney for the Damned." He never prosecuted. And there is no doubt, if you were in need of defense, Clarence was one man that you wanted on your side.

Clarence was seventy-five when he sat down to write this book and his thoughts and ideas are as clear and cogent as ever. Clarence was certainly the kind of grandfather any child would love to have. There would never be any question of his support and love for you ... ever. Not that he would agree with what you did or why you may have done it - but there is no doubt in my mind that he would be there "in your defense."

So Clarence believed that everything had a plan, was determined and that we were all subject to our own personal destiny. But he did not believe that there was a "planner." Nor did he believe that the plan was fair, honest or decent. There was a plan and it was determined but it had no direction; it occurred spontaneously, moment by moment; and it was without moral integrity. It was unjust and arbitrary. It was a plan as devised by an unthinking "mother nature" whose guiding force was science, evolution and chance. That you would end up where you would end up was assured. But your position was not designed by a responsible, thoughtful Nature; nor was it governed by fair play or moral rectitude. It would be the way that it would be and it would be that way whether you liked it or not and regardless of right or wrong.

I guess one would say that Clarence was a fatalist.

I have been reading about the exploits and adventures of Clarence Darrow for a long, long time but always from the viewpoint of another observer. This is the first time that I have read and learned about Clarence Darrow from Clarence Darrow. It was different. As someone once said, an autobiography is never objective and this autobiography supports that allegation. But it was certainly one of the more enjoyable self-defenses or personal evaluations that I have ever read. But I have always enjoyed listening to philosophers expound and generalize on themselves, and their situations.

Make no mistake, Clarence is a philosopher. He is a man of very strong and definite opinions. He doesn't mince any words in defending what he believes or thinks.

He has a very good way with words. There is kindness, understanding and even poetry in his style.
In this book he goes over many of the important legal cases for which he is famous. I had previously read about all of them; I have read many of his actual defenses but I have never heard about these stories right from the horse's mouth. This man is so simple in his speech, so logical and so reassuring in the correctness of his stance that it is easy to see how he was so often victorious.

He lost the Scopes case (Monkey Trial) against William Jennings Bryan. Many people even today think that he actually won that case.

He defended union agitators and even the radical 1WW and Big Bill Haywood but he supported World War I despite the union and labor movement's strong opposition.

This book is a descriptive lesson in the art of growing old. It is melancholy; it is thoughtful but sad. It is an old, lovable man saying good-bye to life. The very last chapter is a poem in prose.

I have always been attracted to and admiring of Clarence Darrow. I feel much closer to the man now that I have read the story of his life, narrated in his own words. He was a sentimental, tough, well spoken, simple, logical, compassionate and ardent supporter of the things that he believed and the people whom he loved and befriended during his life. I feel that this man could have been a good friend. Though he has never met me, I feel that I am one of his friends. Like him, I may not agree exactly with everything that he believed but that small distinction does not deter in any way our one-sided friendship.

I like his style. I hope that a bit of him has rubbed off on me.

Richard Edward Noble - The Hobo Philosopher - Author of:

"America on Strike" American Labor Union History.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Fighting the good fight. 9 Jan 2005
By frumiousb - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Darrow takes the reader through some of his most famous cases and explains the philosophy with which he approached his career and the law in general. Any reader interested in the history of the period should find his accounts fascinating: Eugene Debs, John P. Altgeld, the MacNamara Case, the Loeb-Leopold murders, and the famous Scopes "monkey trial" case are just some of the points touched upon in the Darrow autobiography.

Darrow is a clean and competent writer, if not an artistic one. The prose is easy to read and understand. In places, the book can get frustrating because he leaves a topic well before the reader has lost interest. Future publishers would do well to publish this book together with some pointers for further reading.

The Da Capo Press edition is published with a very strange little introductory essay by Alan Dershowitz. In it, he seems more interested in rehabilitating the memory of Bryan than he does in introducing the book. The reader may want to skip it until after finishing the main book itself.

Beyond the obvious lawyer/law student audience, I would also recommend this book to readers interested in labor politics, the early history of the 20th century in the US, and social justice.
11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Pessimist by Profession 11 Dec 2001
By James Hercules Sutton - Published on Amazon.com
Interesting for style as well as insight into courtroom tactics, psychology of jurors, crime and muckraking. His basic premise about jurors: If he can get them to imagine, he can get them to doubt. So his approach, always personal, was perpetually appealing to imagination. It worked, mostly, even when clients were guilty. It's his reliance on reason that makes him a skeptic. Causation is the basis of his world and personal views. Seeing the effect of the law, he argues that judging is worse than judgement, and he would dispense with both. He is at some pain to describe what he gave up to plead, rather than the life he gained by it. His seriousness can be attributed to the injustices he saw, effects he attributes more to chance than choice. He espouses the theory of continental drift, in 1939! A sharp mind interested in everything. As he says himself, if he had to do it over, . . . he'd have been a scientist.
11 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read Book for Lawyers-Want-to-Be 31 July 2001
By Tzu Yu - Published on Amazon.com
This book successfully captured the life of Clarence Darrow, who is no doubt one of the greatest attorneys of the early 20th century. His abilities to defend the indefensible are most extrordinary. I will certainly recommend this book to anyone espeically pre-law or law school students.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best 2 Dec 2008
By Houston Lawyer - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Highly worthwhile. You will feel like this was written specifically for you. Fascinating philosophic analyses by Darrow which are relevant even today. Even if you disagree with him, you will appreciate Darrow's thoughtful insights into issues that continue to haunt America and the world, such as the impact of money on justice, capital punishment, the wisdom of the criminal justice system as applied, and on. A true treasure and you should get it while it is still in reprint. It will be a book you will keep for future reference.
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