Top critical review
Good introduction to Marshall, but superficial
on 6 April 1999
Thurgood Marshall needs a better book than this one, but in the absence of a more comprehensive, analytical volume, that would be alot longer & cover his thought and his life, this work will have to do. Juan Williams is a very good writer, the prose is "breezy" and the book is a fast read laden with interesting characters & interesting gossip. It shows Marshall's central place in 20th century, indeed US historical, civil rights in various arenas, not just racial justice. He is a very appealing person as well ... someone any reader probably would enjoy having known. I noticed in the forward that Williams was prevented from talking to some of the people closest to Marshall, which is most unfortunate. The book is not an expose but a very favorable view of the man. Marshall's relatives should be kicking themselves for not having shared their views & experiences with Williams. The next biographer will almost certainly be a more critical writer than Williams. Where the book falls down is in its exposition of Marshall's thought & some of the details of his legal work. So we come away, unfortunately, not understanding that Marshall was an intellectual giant, not just a legal-oriented civil rights leader. I enjoyed this book very much but gave it only 3 stars because it is almost entirely missing Marshall's intellectual life.