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Memoirs of a Radical Lawyer Hardcover – 7 Sep 2009

4.4 out of 5 stars 59 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Hardcover: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Bloomsbury Publishing PLC; First Edition edition (7 Sept. 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0747576548
  • ISBN-13: 978-0747576549
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 4.4 x 24.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (59 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 101,049 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description


`A fascinating insight into the mind of a man who has devoted his life to securing the liberty of others ... These memoirs benefit from a career spent at the heart of some of the most controversial criminal cases of the past four decades' --New Statesman

`Brilliant...a sophisticated criminal practitioner who has delivered some of the most powerful pieces of advocacy witnessed in this country's courtrooms' --Chambers Legal Directory 2009

`Michael Mansfield, QC, believes in the rule of law; that everyone is entitled to a defence of himself in these memoirs, but he also presents himself as passionate and political in pursuit of well-defined ideals' --The Times

`This is essentially a fascinating and passionate record of the author's major cases in courts, inquests and public inquiries, whose context will be as familiar to the general reader as to the lawyer, and which concerned or raised issues beyond the narrowly legal.' --Michael Beloff, Spectator

`Such is Mansfield's skill as an advocate that even in his chapter of his book he persuaded me that, as a matter of fact, there is something extremely fishy about the death of Princess Diana in the Paris underpass ... I hugely admire him ... This book is not just a show-off catalogue of his greatest hits. It is a shaming, chilling list of injustices. It is a reminder of how very difficult it is, once an injustice has been committed, to alter the public minds and to alter the minds of the Appeal Court Judges...He was right about the Birmingham Six, right about Stephen Lawrence, right about the Bloody Sunday, could it be - could it really be - that he is right about the death of Princess Diana? Was she really murdered?' --A.N Wilson, Daily Mail

'Mansfield's handling of witnesses shows a deftness and lightness of touch, combined with an unrelenting grasp of the underlying details .. tightly written, and ... manages to distil his cases down to their central issues with a minimum of jargon, making it an enjoyable read.' --Thom Dyke, New Statesman

About the Author

Michael Mansfield QC was born in 1941 and educated at Highgate School and Keele University. Called to the Bar in 1967, he established Tooks Chambers, in 1984 and became Queen's Counsel in 1989. He has represented defendants in criminal trials, appeals, inquests and inquiries in some of the most controversial legal cases the country has seen, particularly where issues of Civil Liberty have arisen; he is President and Patron of numerous organisations including the Haldane, Amicus and Viva!, Professor and Honorary Fellow of many universities as well as being a regular contributor to public debates on human rights issues.

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Damaskcat HALL OF FAMETOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 10 Sept. 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Hardcover
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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Format: Paperback
Length: 4:20 Mins


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.
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