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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life in the law
Michael Mansfield's passion and enthusiasm for his job blazes throughout this well written review of the cases in which he has been involved over 40 years as a barrister. A staunch supporter of civil liberties, the author has almost always defended rather than taking on the prosecution role. The book covers such well known cases as the Birmingham 6, the Guildford 4, the...
Published on 10 Sep 2009 by Damaskcat

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3.0 out of 5 stars A complex look into the Justice system
A fairly decent read from a lawyer with a moral conscience, the title of 'radical lawyer' may be a bit over descriptive . It takes the reader through some of the criminal justice systems more controversial trials and talks about the judiciaries role in accommodating bad law.
Published 2 months ago by jim hunter


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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Life in the law, 10 Sep 2009
By 
Damaskcat (UK) - See all my reviews
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Michael Mansfield's passion and enthusiasm for his job blazes throughout this well written review of the cases in which he has been involved over 40 years as a barrister. A staunch supporter of civil liberties, the author has almost always defended rather than taking on the prosecution role. The book covers such well known cases as the Birmingham 6, the Guildford 4, the murder of Jill Dando, the Marchioness diaster and the inquest into the deaths of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayad. It provides fascinating insights into all these cases and certainly changed my view of some of them.

I do not always agree with Michael Mansfield's politics but I could never doubt the sincerity of his beliefs and the vigour with which he has fought his cases. The consequences for him have not always been pleasant. He received many threats during his career and his car was once blown up when parked in London, though that particular bomb was not targetted at him personally. He shows just how dangerous it can be to defend some people if society as a whole is against them. He provides carefully written arguments in favour of retaining jury trial for as many offences as possible and against relying blindly on DNA evidence as though it is infallible.

For anyone interested in the workings of the justice system this will be a must read. The style is approachable, almost conversational in tone, and difficult and complex issues are explained simply. The book will also be of interest to anyone who has followed these many famous cases through the media - here is a chance to see them from the inside. A thoroughly interesting and worthwhile read in my opinion and I recommend it to anyone who is interested in our life and times.
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40 of 43 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An excellent read., 7 Sep 2009
An an aspiring barrister, I found this book enlightening and enthralling. Charting Mansfield's rise from conventional middle-class roots to the top of the legal profession and detailing that charted his rise, this is an exhilarating and disarmingly honest book.

Mansfield's prose is straightforward but eloquent and he communicates his story in a direct, yet highly articulate manner (much as one would doubtless find his courtroom deliveries).

I would thoroughly recommend this account of one who made a career of championing the rights of those demonised by many members of the press and the establishment to anyone, whether they have an interest in law or not. Those who read this memoir will find it honest, charming and eye-opening.
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53 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An inspiration, 7 Sep 2009
I studied law for a year before changing course at Uni a few years back (it wasn't quite for me) but never lost my respect for those who practice it. And arguably at the top of the list of high profile figures in the law is Michael Mansfield.

Lawyers, however, ever fluent in "legalese", aren't traditionally known for talking straight, so I feared that Mr Mansfield might be a little plodding. But you'll be pleased to know that this book is far from plodding. There are highlights here from pretty much every major case and inquest of the past 40 years here, each of which is narrated in very a pacey and intriguing way.

From his experiences in high-profile cases he brings to life the drama of the court-room and the tension of a public enquiry where a melting pot of huge emotions and questions of law are brimming over on every side. The moment when he makes a Para-trooper, Soldier F, finally admit that yes, he did shoot an unarmed man on Bloody Sunday, makes for harrowing, hairs-on-the-back-of-your-neck stuff. And there's lots more like it. The Jean Charles de Menezes chapter in particular is hugely fascinating and very moving.

I've read a couple of reviews of the book in the past week and what's funny is that even those who disagree vehemently with his politics recognise that he's an inspirational figure who's done more than any other person to help shape and improve the British legal system.

Anyone interested in the law, current affairs, international relations, government and policing should read it. You can't fail to be inspired, occasionally depressed, enlightened and entertained.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Beyond the narrowly legal...., 7 Feb 2012
By 
Phillip Taylor (Richmond Upon Thames, England) - See all my reviews
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RECOLLECTIONS OF A CONTROVERSIAL CAREER

An appreciation by Phillip Taylor MBE and Elizabeth Taylor of Richmond Green Chambers

`This is a memoir,' states Michael Mansfield in his preface, `not an autobiography.... it is a collage of recollections and reminiscences.' On reading this fascinating account of Michael Mansfield's fascinating life, we are still a little puzzled as to why the book is not an autobiography. However you classify it, though, it's worthy of note because of the name and fame of its author.

Mansfield, it's fair to say, is Britain's best known defence lawyer, with a towering reputation as a doughty fighter, even for ostensibly lost causes. Presenting a challenge to conventional wisdom and the established view has been his forte.

He seems to have had an attraction to controversial cases, all of them difficult, some of them virtually hopeless. Barristers refer to these as `hard cases' and so they are. A shortlist of the cases he has pugnaciously fought includes Angela Cannings... Jill Dando and Barry George... Dodi Fayed and Princess Diana... Stephen Lawrence, and Jean Charles de Menezes.

He has a rather robust, conversational style when he writes and soon, within the first few pages, you're drawn into the quite eventful narrative of his wartime childhood in normally quiet middle class, suburban north London, with references to sirens, bombs, blackouts and rationing, not to mention being bereft of bananas and wondering if the next bomb you hear is going to hit you.

You'd think that after all that, he'd have relished a quieter life, but no; it would appear that he rather thrived on conflict -- always the lot of a seeker after justice and truth -- and he certainly found it at the Bar.

Interestingly, he reveals that it has been anger which has been the driving force of his career. It all started apparently, when a local police officer charged his mother with a parking offence, from which she strenuously defended herself in court, discovering to her dismay, that there are police officers out there who are not above lying. She was triumphantly acquitted, but warned the young Michael ever after: `never trust a man in uniform.'

The bulk of the book thereafter focuses on Mansfield's cases, mostly the high profile ones that turned him into a high profile lawyer. `As a defence lawyer,' he says (on the front cover so you can't miss it) `it's my job to defend the indefensible.'

Certainly his cases have generated some sensationally detailed headlines and body copy in the press and in among the personal reminiscences, his book is replete with commentary and insights. Take the Marchioness Riverboat disaster of 1989, for example, the aftermath of which was as murky as the waters of the Thames in which so many young people perished. His comments on the inquests and judicial public inquiries which usually follow such disasters are certainly thought provoking.

`It is one thing to agree about the need to know,' he remarks, `It is quite another to get answers from institutions, corporations and government departments.' `Progress', he adds is brought about `by the extraordinary efforts of ordinary groups of families, friends and individuals...who fight for what is right and who initiate change.' He concludes that they occupy the moral high ground and their courageous stand benefits us all- no one should ever sit back and think there is nothing we can do!

This important memoir contains any number of inspirational moments like this. The author's more triumphant and/or controversial cases, described in enthralling detail, serve to create a rich tapestry of some of the most significant and newsworthy events in our recent history, most of which have caused public disquiet, even horror and, it is to be hoped, will ultimately lead to a spirit of reform which is this radical lawyer's real mission.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating overview of contraversial legal cases in UK, 18 Oct 2009
By 
Twiz (London, UK) - See all my reviews
A well-written and clear book that I as a nonlegal reader found hard to put down. It is a must for anyone with an interest in our changing legal rights or a belief in the security of the innocent, or indeed anyone looking for a compulsive good read.

I was reminded of the salient features of many past cases that have hit the headlines. Mr Mansfield leads the reader easily through the history and complex features of these cases such as the Marchioness Disaster and, more recently, Jean Charles de Menezes. Points of law and the fallibility of forensics are among issues discussed.
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12 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly recommended, 8 Oct 2009
I was so impressed with this i ended up buying three and giving them away to friends.
All chapters are self contained and can easily be read in any order.
I hadn't realised quite how radical Michael Mansfield was until i read this. It also shines a bright light onto some of the darker recesses of the judicial and police systems in this country and abroad.
One is left in no doubt that the fight against injustice continues, often led by a small dedicated, and often misunderstood group. Most of them may go unrecognised, but thank God they are there for us.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book written by a great man, 9 Sep 2009
By 
Tim Kevan (Braunton, Devon) - See all my reviews
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There are few things more important in a democratic society than the defence of our own precious civil liberties against the over-arching power of the state and this is never more so than today with the right to silence gone, the right to a jury trial slowly being whittled away and detention without charge continuing to raise its head. Michael Mansfield can justifiably claim to be one of the people who truly has stood up for people's rights. Someone who, for my part, makes me proud to be a barrister simply by association. On this level, these memoirs inspire in just the same way as does Atticus Finch in 'To Kill a Mockingbird'. But they are far more than this. They are funny, entertaining and extremely informative. They are also written with a pathos that shows very clearly the passion which the author puts into every one of his cases. A great book written by a great man.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars, 13 July 2014
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i liked it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A mix between a biography, a legal dispensory and an insight into how the law really works., 23 Jun 2014
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Michael Mansfield is some one who has been in the press and news over some major legal cases, most celebrated as I far as I am concerned, was his helping unearth much over the killing of Princess Diana and Dodi Fayed. What I had not realized is just how long he has been defending the indefensible and upholding the rights of the minority against the establishment. He is extremely articulate and intelligent. I am sorry this book is not promoted more. In this dumbing down age, Mansfield's book comes as a refreshing read for anyone who wants to know real information about real incidents. He is not impartial in his experiences, but that does not mean he is incapable of giving the whole story to his readers. The chilling walk across the open prison yard to negotiate with a prisoner with little to lose while holding the Assistant Governor hostage, is just one of a number of memorable reports he shares, and downplays his enormous courage and emphasis on justice. No, I do not agree with his viewpoints and opinions, but I could not help but respect them either.
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2.0 out of 5 stars boring summary of old cases, 10 Jun 2014
By 
Silverdolphin23 (LONDON, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Memoirs of a Radical Lawyer (Kindle Edition)
On the one hand it's good we have a few like mr Mansfield. Just to counterbalance the old fascists here in Britain.
But honestly - the chap really is disarmingly naive in his ever optimistic appraisal of human beings and their potential.

Anyway I read his book and got quite x lot out of it. Thank you sir for writing it !
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Memoirs of a Radical Lawyer
Memoirs of a Radical Lawyer by Michael Mansfield
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