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Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality

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Simple Justice is generally regarded as the classic account of the U.S. Supreme Court’s epochal decision outlawing racial segregation and the centerpiece of African-Americans’ ongoing crusade for equal justice under law. The 1954 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education brought centuries of legal segregation in this country to an end. It was and remai Simple Justice is generally regarded as the classic account of the U.S. Supreme Court’s epochal decision outlawing racial segregation and the centerpiece of African-Americans’ ongoing crusade for equal justice under law. The 1954 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education brought centuries of legal segregation in this country to an end. It was and remains, beyond question, one of the truly significant events in American history, “probably the most important American government act of any kind since the Emancipation Proclamation,” in the view of constitutional scholar Louis H. Pollak. The Brown decision climaxed a long, torturous battle for black equality in education, making hard law out of vague principles and opening the way for the broad civil rights upheavals of the 1960s and beyond. Simple Justice is the story of that battle. Richard Kluger traces the background of the epochal decision, from its remote legal and cultural roots to the complex personalities of those who brought about its realization. The result is a landmark work of popular history, graceful and fascinatingly detailed, the panoramic account of a struggle for human dignity in process since the birth of the nation. Here is the human drama, told in all its dimensions, of the many plaintiffs, men, women, and children, variously scared or defiant but always determined, who made the hard decision to proceed – bucking the white power structure in Topeka, Kansas; braving night riders in rural South Carolina; rallying fellow high school students in strictly segregated Prince Edward County, Virginia – and at a dozen other times and places showing their refusal to accept defeat. Here, too, is the extraordinary tale, told for the first time, of the black legal establishment, forced literally to invent itself before it could join the fight, then patiently assembling, in courtroom after courtroom, a body of law that would serve to free its people from thralldom to unjust laws. Heroes abound, some obscure, like Charles Houston (who built Howard Law School into a rigorous academy for black lawyers) and the Reverend J.A. DeLaine (the minister-teacher who, despite bitter opposition, organized and led the first crucial fight for educational equality in the Jim Crow South), others like Thurgood Marshall, justly famous – but all of whose passionate devotion proved intense enough to match their mission. Reading Simple Justice, we see how black Americans’ groundswell urge for fair treatment collides with the intransigence of white supremacists in a grinding legal campaign that inevitably found its way to the halls and chambers of the Supreme Court for a final showdown. Kluger searches out and analyzes what went on there during the months of hearings and deliberations, often behind closed doors, laying bare the doubts, disagreements, and often deeply held convictions of the nine Justices. He shows above all how Chief Justice Earl Warren, new to the Court but old in the ways of politics, achieved the impossible – a unanimous decision to reverse the 58-year-old false doctrine of “separate but equal” education for blacks. Impeccably researched and elegantly written, this may be the most revealing report ever published of America’s highest court at work. Based on extensive interviews and both published and unpublished documentary sources, Simple Justice has the lineaments of an epic. It will stand as the classic study of a turning point in our history.


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Simple Justice is generally regarded as the classic account of the U.S. Supreme Court’s epochal decision outlawing racial segregation and the centerpiece of African-Americans’ ongoing crusade for equal justice under law. The 1954 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education brought centuries of legal segregation in this country to an end. It was and remai Simple Justice is generally regarded as the classic account of the U.S. Supreme Court’s epochal decision outlawing racial segregation and the centerpiece of African-Americans’ ongoing crusade for equal justice under law. The 1954 Supreme Court ruling in the case of Brown v. Board of Education brought centuries of legal segregation in this country to an end. It was and remains, beyond question, one of the truly significant events in American history, “probably the most important American government act of any kind since the Emancipation Proclamation,” in the view of constitutional scholar Louis H. Pollak. The Brown decision climaxed a long, torturous battle for black equality in education, making hard law out of vague principles and opening the way for the broad civil rights upheavals of the 1960s and beyond. Simple Justice is the story of that battle. Richard Kluger traces the background of the epochal decision, from its remote legal and cultural roots to the complex personalities of those who brought about its realization. The result is a landmark work of popular history, graceful and fascinatingly detailed, the panoramic account of a struggle for human dignity in process since the birth of the nation. Here is the human drama, told in all its dimensions, of the many plaintiffs, men, women, and children, variously scared or defiant but always determined, who made the hard decision to proceed – bucking the white power structure in Topeka, Kansas; braving night riders in rural South Carolina; rallying fellow high school students in strictly segregated Prince Edward County, Virginia – and at a dozen other times and places showing their refusal to accept defeat. Here, too, is the extraordinary tale, told for the first time, of the black legal establishment, forced literally to invent itself before it could join the fight, then patiently assembling, in courtroom after courtroom, a body of law that would serve to free its people from thralldom to unjust laws. Heroes abound, some obscure, like Charles Houston (who built Howard Law School into a rigorous academy for black lawyers) and the Reverend J.A. DeLaine (the minister-teacher who, despite bitter opposition, organized and led the first crucial fight for educational equality in the Jim Crow South), others like Thurgood Marshall, justly famous – but all of whose passionate devotion proved intense enough to match their mission. Reading Simple Justice, we see how black Americans’ groundswell urge for fair treatment collides with the intransigence of white supremacists in a grinding legal campaign that inevitably found its way to the halls and chambers of the Supreme Court for a final showdown. Kluger searches out and analyzes what went on there during the months of hearings and deliberations, often behind closed doors, laying bare the doubts, disagreements, and often deeply held convictions of the nine Justices. He shows above all how Chief Justice Earl Warren, new to the Court but old in the ways of politics, achieved the impossible – a unanimous decision to reverse the 58-year-old false doctrine of “separate but equal” education for blacks. Impeccably researched and elegantly written, this may be the most revealing report ever published of America’s highest court at work. Based on extensive interviews and both published and unpublished documentary sources, Simple Justice has the lineaments of an epic. It will stand as the classic study of a turning point in our history.

30 review for Simple Justice: The History of Brown v. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality

  1. 5 out of 5

    Jean

    Kluger’s book is a comprehensive compilation of the historical court case Brown V Board of Education and the Supreme Court decision that outlawed segregation. The author also covers the history of slavery in the United States and life after the Civil War for the black people. He describes the injustice, degradation and abuse to the black people. Kluger also covers the twenty years it took for states to fully respond to the Court’s directives to desegregate schools. The author also reviews, in gre Kluger’s book is a comprehensive compilation of the historical court case Brown V Board of Education and the Supreme Court decision that outlawed segregation. The author also covers the history of slavery in the United States and life after the Civil War for the black people. He describes the injustice, degradation and abuse to the black people. Kluger also covers the twenty years it took for states to fully respond to the Court’s directives to desegregate schools. The author also reviews, in great detail, the 13th, 14th and 15th amendments. Kluger shows how the law has served to create and alter who we are as a society. The book is well written and meticulously researched. It is a lengthy book at 822 pages. It is a detailed history of the treatment of blacks in this country. The author reminds us that freedom without resources is simply a different form of slavery. Kluger introduces the reader to pivotal black attorneys such as Thurgood Marshall, Charles Houston and William Hastie. This is a must-read book. I am left with the thought that Kluger’s book presents America’s own version of a living holocaust. I read this as an e-book on my Kindle app for my iPad. The recent release of the book in digital form was 2011. It was originally published on December 12, 1975.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Clif

    My ancestry is entirely Southern on both my father's and my mother's side. Several relatives fought for the Confederacy and a great grandfather raised cotton and was a cotton broker in Memphis, Tennessee after the end of the Civil War. When it came to pushing forward the American ideal of liberty and justice for all, I'm sorry to say my family was nowhere to be found. I recently visited Memphis, where the National Civil Rights Museum is built into the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. My ancestry is entirely Southern on both my father's and my mother's side. Several relatives fought for the Confederacy and a great grandfather raised cotton and was a cotton broker in Memphis, Tennessee after the end of the Civil War. When it came to pushing forward the American ideal of liberty and justice for all, I'm sorry to say my family was nowhere to be found. I recently visited Memphis, where the National Civil Rights Museum is built into the Lorraine Motel where Martin Luther King, Jr. was killed fifty years ago. I also visited a private museum called Slave Haven in the home of an unusual white man who helped slaves to escape on the underground railroad. In the news recently was the opening of the National Memorial for Peace and Justice, that features a powerful exhibit on the lynching of black men in America. I hope everyone can visit these places. Nobody should leave them with a sense of complacency. Slavery is gone. That ended The American Horror Story, part 1, but it was succeeded by part 2 which could be said to have ended with the Supreme Court decision around which this book is built, Brown vs Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. Could we say there is a part 3 still going on today what with police executions of blacks chronicled with videos for all to see and a hugely disproportionate number of blacks in prison? Too many schools remain segregated simply by the fact that whites have either rushed to leave the cities, have enrolled their kids in private schools or home school their kids. That this segregation exists is no fault of the effort at school desegregation that Simple Justice is about, but for every legal success, there is a way to get around it. Richard Kluger has written a document. Contained within the 800 pages is a thorough look at the plight of the Negro (the primary term used for black Americans throughout the book, written in 1975) from the start of an unwilling arrival before American independence. The account is often shocking, frequently revealing, always educational. It takes a good third of the text to provide the truly awful background information necessary as a foundation for understanding all the work that needed to be done to begin to remedy what was so acceptable to white America. The reader will find out about Radical Reconstruction immediately after the Civil War, when the southern states did all they could to keep blacks in a state of slavery even if officially it was outlawed. An irate Congress clamped down on blatant Southern moves to keep the boot of the white man on the black man's neck, passing the 13th, 14th and 15th Amendments to the Constitution, but as could be expected, interest in doing the right thing flagged rapidly as Northern financial interests saw the benefits of allowing Southern racism free rein in exchange for the opening up of a new territory to profit. A Supreme Court ruling in 1896, Plessy vs Ferguson made "separate but equal" facilities for blacks on railroads legal and a new frontier of segregation advanced, shunning blacks from all manner of services such as restaurants, hotels, movie theaters...and schools. Separation was the operative word, with equality being ignored. The first decades of the 20th century saw the lives of blacks made miserable as white Southerners dreamed up ingenious ways of denying blacks the vote or any kind of decent work and engaged in lynchings with enthusiasm. The author follows the use of black troops in France in WW1, where they realized that there could be equality between the races. He tells of Booker T. Washington's philosophy of the black man working his way up on his own to take his place with whites, something whites accepted with glee as it put no responsibility on the whites for what they had done to erect every hurdle they could think of to keep the Negro down. The start, by whites, of all black Howard University, the creation, mostly by whites, of the NAACP (National Association for the Advancement of Colored People), the defiant writing of W.E.B. DuBois, the position of U.S. presidents on racial issues...it's all here. No significant personalities in the struggle over justice, black or white, are neglected and each gets a generous introduction. The reader is never wondering why things happen as they do because of the rich background Richard Lugar provides, making sense of every development along the way. Reacting to the long history of injustice, typified by schools that were segregated, a handful of black intellectuals all connected to Howard University, several being attorneys with the NAACP Legal Defense Fund headed by Thurgood Marshall, go out to build the case that segregation between groups is inherently unequal. From this point, the author moves into yet another subject - the workings of the American justice system and the Supreme Court. This book is thick for a reason. Simple Justice made me appreciate how shallow and essentially worthless are standard history texts, texts that offer what are little more than headlines that could hardly do more than leave the student of history at a loss for the meaning of what happened in the past and how it connects to the present. The guiding principle is to let no school board be offended. It's unfortunate that the people who most need to know what is in this book are very unlikely to read it and no reading can be effective if there is no motivation to learn what the text has to say. In my dream world, every police officer would know the story that Richard Lugar tells so well in Simple Justice. I doubt anyone would not be moved by this book, though one might be depressed that 43 years have passed since it was published and 64 years have passed since the Brown decision was made by the Supreme Court. I was disappointed when I visited the National Civil Rights Museum that this book was not for sale in the book store there. Though it deals with the time before Martin Luther King, Jr. rose to acclaim, it presents the earlier years of the outright denial of civil rights in a way that deserves wide readership.

  3. 5 out of 5

    Becky

    It was a long one, but I'm glad I got through this important book that documented the history and legacy of Brown v. Board of Education. Some exceptional quotes: "In their zeal to slash 'handouts' to those struggling with poverty, the new conservative policymakers who would run the federal government for the next dozen years never bothered to analyze the potential cost benefits of sustained rehabilitation programs for the nation's needy, i.e., whether a well-directed helping hand in the form of pr It was a long one, but I'm glad I got through this important book that documented the history and legacy of Brown v. Board of Education. Some exceptional quotes: "In their zeal to slash 'handouts' to those struggling with poverty, the new conservative policymakers who would run the federal government for the next dozen years never bothered to analyze the potential cost benefits of sustained rehabilitation programs for the nation's needy, i.e., whether a well-directed helping hand in the form of preschool learning assistance, job training, drug rehabilitation, low-cost business loans, and maximum school desegregation might not dramatically reduce U.S. taxpayers' bills for jobless benefits, aid to dependent children, drug abuse, crime control, and medical treatment for the poor." "Americans simply seem more dedicated to exploring outer space than to saving their inner cities; we lavish our wealth on outsized vehicles and state-of-the-art weaponry rather than on improving young minds or caring for the public health... The result has been an extreme maldistribution of the nation's wealth that outrages remarkably few Americans. Only an unpredictable wind shift toward altruism seems likely to power a new national consensus that identifies government as neither enemy nor savior but as a useful tool when put prudently to the task. As long as those put in charge of it profess to hate it, government cannot be the prime mover in the pursuit of justice."

  4. 5 out of 5

    David

    Why try to sum it up myself, when the author does a perfect job at the end of the book: "Exorcism is rarely a pretty spectacle. It is frequently marked by violent spasms and protracted trauma, and so it has been in the two decades since Brown signaled the beginning of the nation's effort to rid itself of the consuming demons of racism...the bruising post-Brown years have clearly marked the onset of the third major stage in the history of black-white relations in America. During the first, blacks w Why try to sum it up myself, when the author does a perfect job at the end of the book: "Exorcism is rarely a pretty spectacle. It is frequently marked by violent spasms and protracted trauma, and so it has been in the two decades since Brown signaled the beginning of the nation's effort to rid itself of the consuming demons of racism...the bruising post-Brown years have clearly marked the onset of the third major stage in the history of black-white relations in America. During the first, blacks were openly classified as property, and even those who were not held in legal slavery were generally regarded as having been placed on earth to do the bidding of white men.The 13th Amendment technically ended that state of formal subjugation in 1865. The second stage promoted the colored man to the category of marginal human being, evidently of the same species as the white man and technically entitled to the same rights and protections, but an unfortunately witless, lecherous, odoriferous sort whose very presence was an eyesore as the nation reached for greatness. Denied learning, denied all but the most primitive vocational training, denied access to the political and social institutions that functioned as a giant ethnic melting pot for the European peoples who stocked American shores, the Negro hobbled into the 20th Century as a reviled scapegoat for the frustrated, a target for the sadistic, and an inconvenient reminder of past sins and current indifference. It seemed only natural that he should have been segregated as a pollutant. Not until the Supreme Court acted in 1954 did the nation acknowledge that it had been blaming the black man for what it had done to him. His sentence to 2nd class citzenship had been commuted; the quest for meaningful equality -- equality in fact as well as law -- had begun. It is more the business of melodrama than social analysis to suggest that a single moment or event can change the course of history. It is not suggested here that Brown, alone, was such a moment or event. The Court's decision might more aptly be called the cresting wave of a tidal movement unleashed by the great economic earthquake of 1929. Not until then did the nation seriously acknowledge that its most sacred obligation went beyond the protection of capital to the well-being of its citizens. People were no longer infinitely discardable, and the New Deal of Franklin Roosevelt became the first national administration to treat black Americans as recognizably human. Worldwide conflicts with fascism and Communism added to the country's consciousness that its colored citizens had not been precisely beneficiaries of the social order; a system that tolerated so much human spillage was plainly in need of repair. Full employment and an extended economic boom unlike any the world had ever known contributed to the growth of tolerance in post-war America; there was work for all, though no one was handling cushy jobs to colored people. The good times reached into the South, which now embraced full-scale industrialization and lost much of its economic and psychological isolation from the rest of the country. The electronic communications revolution advanced the national homogenization process. Radio, television, the movies, and the phonograph brought an insistent mass culture of shared sights, sounds, and attitudes to every region, every social class, every income level, and every ethnic category in the land. If the common denominator was not very high and did as much to imbed as uproot racial stereotypes, all this cross-fertilization reduced much of what provincialism remained in the country and gave wide exposure to the achievements of such Negroes as Ralph Bunche, Richard Wright, Louis Armstrong, and Jackie Robinson. Evidence was accumulating that black Americans had much to offer their country if given the opportunity to grow up in decent surroundings and make their way like everyone else. Revulsion over incidents of racial violence grew. The clergy, longtime protector of Jim Crow religion in much of the nation, turned moral as well as pious and began to call for racial equality and act in ways to help achieve it. It was in this receptive soil that the Supreme Court planted the seed of Brown. Every colored American knew that Brown did not mean he would be invited to lunch with the Rotary the following week. It meant something more basic and more important. It meant that black rights had suddenly been redefined; black bodies had suddenly been reborn under a new law. Blacks' value as human beings had been changed overnight by the declaration of the nation's highest court. At a stroke, the Justices had severed the remaining cords of de facto slavery. The Negro could no longer be fastened with the status of official pariah. No longer could the white man look right through him as if he were invisible, in the title words of Ralph Ellision's stunning 1952 novel, Invisible Man. No more would he be a grinning supplicant for the benefactions and discards of the master class; no more would he be a party to his own degredation. He was both thrilled that the signal for demise of his caste status had come from on high and angry that it had taken so long and first exacted so steep a price in suffering." - R. Kluger. The timeline: 1. 13th Amendment (1865): outlaws slavery 2. 14th Amendment (1866): guarantees right of all individuals to equal protection and due process. 3. Civil Rights Cases: States are not empowered to prevent private discrimination, even by businesses said to be open to the public at large. 4. Plessy v Ferguson (1896): SCOTUS rules separate, but equal permissible under the 14th Amendment. Segregation is deemed legal. 5. Cummings v Richmond County Board of Ed (1899): SCOTUS upheld segregated school policies. 6. Berea College v Kentucky (1908): SCOTUS ruled that states could impose segregation in public as well as private enterprises. Triggered Jim Crow laws across the South. 7. Gong Lum v Rice (1927): SCOTUS supported Mississippi's classification of Martha Lum as "colored" and thus required to attend Negro school. 8. Murray v Maryland (1937): Maryland Court of Appeals supported the lower court's order to have the University of Maryland law school admit Donald Murray as equal facilities were not available to him. 9. Gaines v Canada (1938): SCOTUS ordered University of Missouri law school integrated under Plessy doctrine since the state had no equal law school for blacks. 10. Alston v School Board of the City of Norfolk (1940): US Court of Appeals 4th Circuit ruled illegal pay discrimination based on color. 11. Sipuel v Oklahoma State Board of Regents (1948): SCOTUS issued per curiam opinion that instructed Oklahoma to provide a legal education for Ada Sipuel in compliance with 14th Amendment. A State had to offer something that passed for a school to meet separate but equal test, and it had to do so promptly, but it didn't have to integrate. 12. Sweatt v Painter (1950): SCOTUS issued unanimous decision that black plaintiff be admitted to the University of Texas law school on grounds the colored school failed to offer equal educational opportunity. Separate but equal still lawful, but the equality had to be real or the separation was Constitutionally intolerable. 13. McLaurin v Oklahoma State Regents for Higher Education (1950): SCOTUS ordered the restriction placed on black plaintiff removed as they handicapped his puruist of effective graduate instruction. If separate facilities are not provided no one can suffer restrictions or harassments at a biracial school. 14. Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, Briggs v Elliott (South Carolina), Davis v County School Board of Prince Edward County, Virginia, Gebhart v Belton (DE), and Bolling v Sharpe (Wash DC) (1954): "Does segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of race, even though the physical facilities and other "tangible" factors may be equal, deprive the children of the minority group of equal education opportunities? We believe that it does." - SCOTUS

  5. 4 out of 5

    Frank Stein

    First off, I have to say that the book is just too damn long. At almost 800 pages it manages to recount in mind-numbing detail the daily travails of the five lower court cases that were combined on appeal to become the Brown v. Board of Education case that appeared before the Supreme Court in 1952. It also constantly interrupts the narrative of each of these cases to recount at length the biography of almost everyone involved in the cases, from second-tier researchers to assistant counsels. Its First off, I have to say that the book is just too damn long. At almost 800 pages it manages to recount in mind-numbing detail the daily travails of the five lower court cases that were combined on appeal to become the Brown v. Board of Education case that appeared before the Supreme Court in 1952. It also constantly interrupts the narrative of each of these cases to recount at length the biography of almost everyone involved in the cases, from second-tier researchers to assistant counsels. Its just too much. That said, if any case warrants this sort of intense scrutiny it is Brown v. Board. This decision not only permanently reshaped American political and cultural life, it inaugurated the entry of the Supreme Court into the smallest interstices of all American life, for better and for worse. The justices at the time, especially Felix Frankfurter, seemed to understand its completely unprecedented (a dirty word in judicial proceedings) nature, but felt compelled by the magnitude of the injustices brought to light by the NAACP, and by the Supreme Court's gradual chipping away at whites' legal dominance (from Gaines v. Canada in 1938, which forced states to provide in-state law school education for both whites and blacks if segregation existed, to McLauren v. Oklahoma Board of Regents in 1950, which ended segregation inside an Oklahoma law school that exiled the one black student to a desk outside of classes or in ridiculous roped-off areas in the middle of the class). The long road to Brown is ultimately a story that demands the sort of comprehensive telling Kluger gives it. The first part of the book is actually a surprisingly original and fascinating look at the previous 150 years of judicial rulings on civil rights that belongs in anyone's library and provides the essential underpinning of the Brown case. And although the detailed local stories in the final cases can become tedious, they also provide remarkable insight into local politics and race relations in the 1950s. For instance, Luger discusses the ten-year reign of Kenneth McFarland, the school superintendent in Topeka, Kansas, out of which the Brown case emerged. McFarland unified all the school board's power in his own hands beginning in 1941, and brought in compliant black administrators and teachers who feared that integration might hurt their job prospects (Kluger shows how this fear was pervasive among black teachers, who constituted the largest part of the black "middle class" in this period). At the integrated high school in the city, McFarland forced blacks and whites to have separate sports teams, with different color uniforms, and separate student assemblies, and even prohibited mixing in the cafeteria. Such were the complicated local politics of segregation outside the deep South. At the heart of the book though, is the amazing story of Howard Law School. Once the Harvard-trained Charles Houston took charge of the decrepit school in 1930 (it didn't even have a library), he transformed it into one of the most dynamic and activist centers of law in the whole country. Bringing on board people like Spotswood Robinson and Thurgood Marshall, the school became tightly associated with the legal defense wing of the NAACP, set up on a shoestring in 1939 for tax purposes, and with their help began challenging segregation laws across the country. Houston and his proteges, once hardly given the time of day by white counsels, made numerous successful appearances before the Supreme Court that culminated in Brown v. Board barely 10 years later. It is an almost fairy-tale story of a small band of misfit dreamers who succeeded in changing the course of world history. It is truly incredible. And it is such incredible stories that make this book so fascinating. Though I often got tired of its maunderings and details, I'm extremely glad I read it.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth Finnegan

    Last year I was supervising a graduate student (not enrolled in the college where I work full-time) who was teaching in an affluent, predominantly white neighborhood. In her class, there were a handful of students of color. I asked the graduate student what she thought it would feel like to be on the only African-American student in her class. I was expecting this to be a simple question, which would elicit one of the following responses, (a) it must be hard not seeing anyone who looks like you, Last year I was supervising a graduate student (not enrolled in the college where I work full-time) who was teaching in an affluent, predominantly white neighborhood. In her class, there were a handful of students of color. I asked the graduate student what she thought it would feel like to be on the only African-American student in her class. I was expecting this to be a simple question, which would elicit one of the following responses, (a) it must be hard not seeing anyone who looks like you, (b) we are mindful of the fact that we need to keep the classroom library stocked with books that represent the diversity of the American experience, (c) the student is doing well academically, and to my knowledge has not encountered any overt incidences of discrimination. Instead the response I got was, "When she first started at this district, we checked to see if she lived in public housing, but she does not." The most frightening aspect of this statement is the word "we," which suggests that this response to the arrival of African-American student is endorsed at the institutional level. The other frightening thing about this is the assumption the supervisor, a white person, would not object to it. My immediate reply was polite and succinct, "In this town most people are professionals. I expect her parents are in finance, law or medicine." As a professor of education, I want to understand how a graduate student might have learned this. So, I went back to the textbook and reread it. The textbook provides statistics on disproportionality in special education. The over-representation of African-American students in certain IDEA disability groups is attributed to social-economic circumstances. No mention is made of the history of discrimination African-Americans have had to overcome. When presented in isolation the statistics lead pre-service teachers to believe that the playing field is even, that all students have to do is work a little harder to keep up. The reality is for students from historically underrepresented groups there are still hurdles for them to overcome. This book outlines the history; social, biographical and legal behind the Supreme Court case Brown vs. Board of Education, Topeka, Kansas. The landmark case which made school segregation illegal. It illustrates how the case was not an isolated event which resulted in a common sense judgement, but a long, hard-fought battle. This book is a must for all educators. It demonstrates how the deep economic divides in this country were legally sanctioned. No matter how hard working your grandparents or great-grandparents worked, they could not overcome those barriers. Meanwhile other groups were saving so they could set their children on a college-bound path. In terms of leveling the playing field, generations of time were lost. This book teaches us that the least we can do as educators is present complete information. Data without context can be as dangerous as no data at all.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Adam

    Exquisite. This is unquestionably one of the best books I've ever read, and, I really cannot imagine how it could be outdone. To summarize the book would be unfathomable. A description of its scope would inevitably fall short. The writing and voice is so clear, yet the depth of the material is so great. As the subtitle notes, Simple Justice is in a way, a history of the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education. But to say it is a history of the case alone risks suggesting that the Exquisite. This is unquestionably one of the best books I've ever read, and, I really cannot imagine how it could be outdone. To summarize the book would be unfathomable. A description of its scope would inevitably fall short. The writing and voice is so clear, yet the depth of the material is so great. As the subtitle notes, Simple Justice is in a way, a history of the Supreme Court's decision in Brown v. Board of Education. But to say it is a history of the case alone risks suggesting that the book covers the legal battle alone. Nothing could be further from the truth. Or perhaps, that's exactly on point. It seems far from the truth because Kluger dives so deep into the lives of the litigants, the arbiters, the plaintiffs, the defendants, the actors of every scene and every story. Historically, the book beings long before any anti-discrimination case is ever filed. In face, much of the first third of the book dissects and lays bare a history of racial injustice that is so key to understanding our present faults, yet is so actively and intentionally buried in textbooks, school lessons, and the 'collective narrative.' Yet, at the same time, the stories of these individuals, from the most famous, to the most homely, are the story of the case. The history of racial injustice is the story of the case. The history of the court, is the story of the case. And the lives, loves, and laughs of every single person who has lived in this country, is the story of this seminal case. Kluger presents it all. He dives so deep down rabbit holes that you forget whether your reading about Brown, or about the local history of some small South Carolina town. Is it an expose on the inner workings of the Supreme Court, or a political biography of famous historical actors. It is all of that and more. The writing is truly elegant. Accessible, fascinating, compelling, and incredibly well documented. One does not feel as though they are being dragged through a timeline, nor subjected to one wild individual's view of the world. This is the story that is not told, or at least is not yelled. Here Kluger shouts it out with all his might. An absolutely necessary book, at least, because it is incredible, at most, because it offers a history that so frequently is so poorly presented. Brilliant.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Mark

    The very problem that might induce hesitancy to write a history of a judicial decision as notable as Brown v. Board of Education—namely, that people might tend towards mistaking their general awareness of the case for an understanding of its compelxities, nuances, and context—is the exact reason that makes its writing so essential. Kluger reports the details of the case and its background in painstaking detail, revealing the herky-jerky progress of the African American pursuit of equality in edu The very problem that might induce hesitancy to write a history of a judicial decision as notable as Brown v. Board of Education—namely, that people might tend towards mistaking their general awareness of the case for an understanding of its compelxities, nuances, and context—is the exact reason that makes its writing so essential. Kluger reports the details of the case and its background in painstaking detail, revealing the herky-jerky progress of the African American pursuit of equality in education. He writes with an unflashy but sophisticated verve; there’s no fat in his prose, but plenty texture. He overlaps his storylines, jumps back and forth in time as appropriate, and keeps all the plates spinning effortlessly, checking in on each at the most efficient moment. Just as the book as a whole provides extensive and expansive context behind Brown v. Board, it also provides depth, and often ambiguity, to well-known icons and images of the civil rights movement. The structure of the book is a top-down burrowing from a recognizable case, argued and decided by recognizable names, to find the backgrounds and circumstances who made them the players we think we know, and then redefining too their essential identities. Surrounding this excavatory technique is the establishment of scaffolding essential to the understanding of the complex path towards the Supreme Court, primarily legal and societal structures and strictures, as well as the introduction of detailed theories of anthropology, sociology, and psychology, Kluger’s inclusion of which reflects the NAACP’s controversial use of such data in their legal briefs. There are also anecdotes that serve to subtly remind the reader of the contemporaneous atmosphere, including multiple instances of well-meaning whites, including Chief Justice Earl Warren, putting blacks in the position of being denied service because they forgot the extent of segregation. (Additional contextualizing elements that might have been helpful, and appropriate fits with Kluger’s goals and overall approach, are regional and national contemporary news reports on the state of segregated education, as well as the public’s opinion of it.) While reportorial in his tone, Kluger doesn’t quite avoid subjectivity—he casts acerbic sidelong judgement at times, as if in disbelief, and slyly editorializes at other times with his word choice—but he maintains an admirable insistence on understanding and relaying the positions of even the segregationist hardliners. His portrayal of the reasoning behind every man’s perspective on both sides of the battle for desegregation brings to mind the words of Jean Renoir’s Octave in his The Rules of the Game—“The real hell of life is that everyone has his reasons.” Kluger studiously demonstrates too that desegregationists were often ineffectual and capitulative, and that defendants, plaintiffs, and attorneys on both sides, judges, and justices all, as is the wont of humans, were often led by the pursuit of self-interest more than that of justice. The author is not interested either in valorizing the Supreme Court as an institution (nor the justice system as a whole, for that matter), showcasing several rulings with no apparent logic (among which some would include Brown as well). He does take the opportunity to correct public opinion and the historical record in positive directions as well, including going a long way towards giving their due those operators for the cause of equality who preferred to shun the limelight in their lifetimes (or felt compelled to for their safety). Perhaps the most surprising takeaway from Simple Justice is just how much surprise with which Kluger manages to instill it. Much of this comes from the ambiguities introduced, willfully and otherwise, at various levels of the justice system; throughout, there are surprising rulings, convoluted reasonings, reversals of intention, outcomes that sometimes seem to surprise even those responsible for producing them. The widespread familiarity of the case’s ultimate formal outcome certainly helps in this regard; the tortuous path to equality would likely read as too maddening, frustrating, and ultimately heartrending if one didn’t know towards what end it led. The number of points at which what could only be thought of at the time, and even retrospectively, as the correct choice backfires spectacularly; Simple Justice, and Brown v. Board, are emblematic of the need to trust process and execution over individual results. The threads leading to Brown v. Board are predominated by false hopes and infinitesimally incremental progress. There is a chaotic element to much of the timeline—at times an apparent arbitrariness to the timing of NAACP decisions to enter the fray; at other points, their entry is knowingly rushed but unavoidable, spurred on by the legal advances of less-skilled outsiders who threaten to doom their cause. Kluger’s employment of a fluid timeline helps him accentuate the implicit suspense of his topic; he will intentionally lead up to a notable circumstance and then begins a new storyline to provide context needed before that climactic point. He doesn’t engage in the chronological flattening common in nonfiction which often either gives the reader the impression of an overly simplified and overly linear sequence of cause and effect, or reduces the number of relevant details included, or even in the best cases results in relevant information being given too early, due to a stringent enforcement of the real ordering of lapsed time, resulting in details being forgotten by the time they come into play. Kluger’s sophisticated handling of the layering includes persons, events, case, and books that crop up in multiple timelines, elegantly keeping the reader apprised at all times of where he is in time. (A slight downside is that basic background information occasionally ends up disclosed two or three times, and in very similar fashion.) The uncertainty of all but the final case makes for a book that allows for a level of engagement by the reader that is rare in nonfiction, where even if the specific details between point A and point B are unknown, one can often correctly infer the details of the connecting chord. Here, one is put in the position of reading the words of endlessly enigmatic judges and justices, and not only attempting to determine their thoughts, but also how their thoughts might be read, and then manipulated, by both their brethren and the attorneys arguing before them; even if one doesn’t choose to engage in this level of analysis, it’s fascinating merely to watch the characters’ constant strategizing and honing the specificity and targeting of their approaches. Nicely complementing this logic puzzle quality is the decidedly unsolvable and impenetrable nature of the legal system, which allows for inexplicability in ways favorable and unfavorable. For all his exhaustiveness, there is no way for Kluger or anyone else to determine the reasoning behind lack of interference with sloppy witnesses or behind rulings in the face of all apparent logic. This ensures that the book retains a pleasing, if maddening, degree of mystery. As all through-lines reach their intersection point in terms of both time and location, the book becomes a bit more traditional in its structure, which flattens out from its previous depths into mostly a back and forth between the counsels on either side of the court case. The chapters get longer, too, as the process seems to slow down, to linger longer at each stage. Despite the fact that the scope of discussion is more limited, the full range of complexity formerly introduced comes into play in every stage of argument and debate, formal and informal, as the Court hears the case and comes to a decision, so the sheer amount of material that Kluger has to cover is no less than in earlier chapters, and due to the few discreet points of the timeline, he actually has less opportunity to break the material into additional chapters. This increasing length of the chapters, along with a narrative that moves much less, and less lightly, between multiple viewpoints and threads, subtly prepares the reader for the accumulation of the force that will go into the decision, though to some degree at the expense of the momentum that has been maintained until then, and the sacrifice of the more unconventional approach toward overlapping timelines before that point. Once the decision and decree have been handed down, additional information can feel a bit anticlimactic. But in a way, it’s quite appropriate; the climax, known in advance and long anticipated, gives way to the underwhelming dénouement of the final chapter, a dispiriting look at the way in which the presumed impact of the Brown v. Board decision was in fact blunted in the fifty years following its announcement. Kluger doesn’t have the luxury space-wise of digging deeply into the specifics of the aftermath of the decision, which also contributes to an inability to properly construct a narrative for that segment, so his findings mostly are presented as a deluge of statistics. In an appendix immediately following the main text, Kluger presents in full the decisions in both Brown v. Board and Bolling v. Sharpe. There’s a finality in the closing—“It is so ordered.”—that at first seems powerful, but on consideration, is merely customary. The book leaves us as life did, with the text of the decisions as mere words, however powerful they may have been intended to be, with their power yet to be interpreted in whatever way by future generations, a grim proposition considering the various interpretations of law that we’ve witnessed in the preceding 800 pages.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nicole R

    I typically resent having reading assigned for a class. Especially when the professor assigns upwards of 150 pages a week, which eats into my personal reading time. But, I did not mind in the slightest with Simple Justice. It was well-written, intriguing, and provided great insight to what it takes to strategically position an important issue in the court system so that the Supreme Court takes it up at the right time and addresses the exact question that you want addressed. The scope of this book I typically resent having reading assigned for a class. Especially when the professor assigns upwards of 150 pages a week, which eats into my personal reading time. But, I did not mind in the slightest with Simple Justice. It was well-written, intriguing, and provided great insight to what it takes to strategically position an important issue in the court system so that the Supreme Court takes it up at the right time and addresses the exact question that you want addressed. The scope of this book was hundreds of years. It started with what life was like for black people in pre-Civil War slavery, moved through the Civil War and the political reasons that led to the the ending of slavery and the attempt to provide rights through the 13th, 14th, and 15th amendment, and then it addressed the amazing ways these rights were still withheld through social "norms and traditions." The big hit was Plessy v. Ferguson that set up the separate-but-equal doctrine that ruled the land for 75 years. As early as 1930, the newly formed-NAACP was challenging separate-but-equal in court, and chose education as the platform to gradually move the courts to chip away at the doctrine until forced to face the question of whether separate was inherently unequal and therefore unconstitutional. This book covered a lot of legal strategy. It spoke to the attitude of the nation and the courts toward black right -- and, to be honest, the overarching question of states rights -- during these years, outlined the personal backgrounds and constitutional stances of the Justices that made up the Supreme Court at the time, and highlighted the legal brilliance of Thurgood Marshall, who was chief counsel on most of these cases. It also showed how even the black community itself was divided on how best to move forward on this issue. I think I would have enjoyed the book much less if I did not have a professor to lead a discussion seminar based on the readings. The professor's personal hero is Marshall and his personal knowledge added so much historical context and insight that I would never have gotten from simply reading the book. Holding the book back from a full 5 stars is that sometimes the author got a little too bogged down in describing the lives of people very tangential to his story. Also, I am sure it was a nightmare to figure out the chronology of the book with cases being filed and appeals taking years, but I got a bit confused on when rulings were made that set or did not set legal precedent. And, as long as the book was, I would have liked a bit more on the struggles to actually integrate schools after Brown -- Little Rock Nine anyone? -- but that is likely an entire book within itself. Overall, a wonderful book that showed me just how little I really knew about one of the most -- if not THE most -- defining Supreme Court decision of all time.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Mark Bowles

    A. Overview 1. “The American nation must exploit its inner resources...if it is to linger long at the center of the global stage. This is a book about the resurrection of those inner resources. (Ix)” The nine people of the Supreme Court is the least democratic branch of the national government. It is to these isolated people that America has brought its most important political and social problems. This book is the history of one lawsuit, but it is not a study of law. Instead, it examines how law A. Overview 1. “The American nation must exploit its inner resources...if it is to linger long at the center of the global stage. This is a book about the resurrection of those inner resources. (Ix)” The nine people of the Supreme Court is the least democratic branch of the national government. It is to these isolated people that America has brought its most important political and social problems. This book is the history of one lawsuit, but it is not a study of law. Instead, it examines how law and men interact. This case is important because no other case has so directly affected the daily lives of so many Americans. It marked a turning point in Americas willingness to end centuries of racial discrimination. III. Under color of law: A. Briggs v. Elliot was the first of the 5 cases named after a gas station attendant who was not allowed to become a mechanic and a sawmill owner whose pickup would not take away the trees that a black man cut down. B. Original sin: legal standing of slavery C. Civil rights cases leading up to Plessy. Booker Washington. D. Texas in 1950 IV. The Courts Below A. NAACP argues that the black public schools violated the 14th because they were unequal to and separate from the white schools of the community. V. On Appeal A. In 1952 the SC decides to hear the segregation case. The 5 cases had been consolidated because they each dealt with blacks who sought a public education in white schools. B. “For upon analysis, all the Supreme Court had truly and at long last granted to the black man was simple justice.” C. The Brown opinions did launch the desegregation process. It began in the border states then worked its way into the deep south. This was not like Reconstruction since control remained within the South. D. Epilog: 20 years after

  11. 5 out of 5

    Greg Diamond

    I was literally going to say that Simple Justice is the definitive history of the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education and the epic struggle for racial equality in this country -- but that's exactly what the books description says, so there's no need to reiterate it. Instead I'll say this: if you want to see what Brown and the people and institutions behind it and opposing it and considering it and the social milieu that made it necessary were all about, you are in for a wonderful take, and I was literally going to say that Simple Justice is the definitive history of the landmark case Brown v. Board of Education and the epic struggle for racial equality in this country -- but that's exactly what the books description says, so there's no need to reiterate it. Instead I'll say this: if you want to see what Brown and the people and institutions behind it and opposing it and considering it and the social milieu that made it necessary were all about, you are in for a wonderful take, and here it is wonderfully told.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jennifer Saint-preux

    What i like most about this book is that for a non fiction piece, it reads like novel. Although long, it accurately recounts the events leading up to Brown v. Board. I especially appreciate Kluger's successful attempt to demonstrate that there were many who helped build the foundation necessary to be successful in arguing Brown before the Supremes; "characters" who are often overlooked in the ubiquitous history class.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Sara

    Overall, well-written, good story-telling, a fairly rigorous historical account of racial discrimination in America. I focused on the Brown section as I'm working on a project related to it, and it seems inclusive and well-done. I'm not sure it's the foil to Rosenberg's Hollow Hope that everyone cites it as being...

  14. 5 out of 5

    Glen Chern

    History Lesson of Major Dimension The Kindle edition of Simple Justice is 799 pages, but do not be intimidated by its length. The author, Richard Kluger, devoted more than a decade of his life writing, researching and conducting interviews in compiling and completing this remarkable work. The subtitle of this literary masterpiece focuses on the landmark public school desegregation suit, which Oliver explains is actually a series of several desegregation lawsuits initially heard by the US Supreme History Lesson of Major Dimension The Kindle edition of Simple Justice is 799 pages, but do not be intimidated by its length. The author, Richard Kluger, devoted more than a decade of his life writing, researching and conducting interviews in compiling and completing this remarkable work. The subtitle of this literary masterpiece focuses on the landmark public school desegregation suit, which Oliver explains is actually a series of several desegregation lawsuits initially heard by the US Supreme Court in 1952. By order of the Court, the cases were re-argued in late 1953, but the Court's final decision was announced on May 17, 1954. Kluger explains the unanimous decision, as written by Chief Justice Earl Warren, and why Justice Warren sought a unanimous ruling. Simple Justice is a history lesson in print. Its' author provides a detailed history of the state of public education for African-American children stretching nearly a century from post Civil War to 1954. Oliver introduces the reader to several of the most valuable African-American attorneys, including future Supreme Court Justice Thurgood Marshall. Other attorneys making significant contributions to the eventual 1954 decision included in this volume were: Robert Carter, Spottswood Robinson, William Hastie, James Gave it and Charles Houston. Kluger provides background detail of the Supreme Court justices who comprised America's highest court at the time Brown v. Board of Education, Topeka, KS. This remarkable compilation holds significant personal importance for me. I was the editor of a thrice-weekly newspaper in Opelousas, LA, parish seat of St. Landry Parish, located in South-central Louisiana from April 1985-November 1987. Although this period took place some 31 years after the Brown decision, St. Landry Parish Schools was just getting around to desegregation it's high schools, a project that involved creating three schools from six of the 12 that existed as of 1986. The school board's site selection of the three consolidated and desegregated high schools triggered a massive revolt from the African-American population of the parish, including demonstrations/sit-ins at the school district office in Opelousas. I covered and wrote the articles that our newspaper published during these events. Finally, I am compelled to state that this work by Richard Kluger should be required reading in every college curriculum relating to public education and the African-American population. It is just that valuable!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Paul Bulger

    This book is far more comprehensive than I could have ever anticipated. I tend to be wary of history books that are written so closely to the period, or the event, that they're discussing, since typically enough time hasn't passed to truly gain a full scope for the precedence that the events being discussed set, and the consequences of those events need more time to sink in. And it's especially difficult if the author actually lived through to see those events unfold, since being in the middle o This book is far more comprehensive than I could have ever anticipated. I tend to be wary of history books that are written so closely to the period, or the event, that they're discussing, since typically enough time hasn't passed to truly gain a full scope for the precedence that the events being discussed set, and the consequences of those events need more time to sink in. And it's especially difficult if the author actually lived through to see those events unfold, since being in the middle of a situation can typically obscure a clear view of it, but that skepticism was gone when Richard Kluger opened his book by detailing the legal state of racial identity in America immediately after the abolition of slavery. The subtitle of the book is somewhat misleading, "The History of Brown V. Board of Education and Black America's Struggle for Equality," which lead me to believe that Simple Justice would primarily be about the actual court case itself, but instead, more accurately, this book is less about Brown v Board itself, but more about the full scope of the African American struggle to attain equal access to education, the ridicule, shame, and injustice they endured for simple right to an education, and the hundreds of uphill battles blacks in America faced, along with the prejudice the court rooms held against them by demerit of their skin, all of which culminated over one hundred years until they finally secured a resounding victory in the decision of Brown v Board. It's a truly inspiring book in which Kluger paints so many silhouettes, and finds so many heroes on his journey through this particular vein of history.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Cheryl

    Simple Justice is one of the most important books I have read. Extensively researched and superbly well-written, this book is more than just the history of the struggle for civil rights leading up to the Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The book tells the stories of the thousands of people who risked their lives and security in the quest for simple justice. I came to know the people behind the names in court cases and all the other heroes who contributed Simple Justice is one of the most important books I have read. Extensively researched and superbly well-written, this book is more than just the history of the struggle for civil rights leading up to the Supreme Court ruling in Brown vs the Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. The book tells the stories of the thousands of people who risked their lives and security in the quest for simple justice. I came to know the people behind the names in court cases and all the other heroes who contributed to the fight. Unfortunately, I also came to know the despicable bigots who fought for segregation even after the Supreme Court decision. An additional chapter was added for the fifty year anniversary of the decision. After all the victories, the final chapter was depressing as it showed how far from over the struggle is and continues to this day. This was the perfect book to read as I prepare to start law school this summer. The book is long - 800 pages - but will stay with me for a very long time.

  17. 5 out of 5

    Anthony

    An intellectually dense book that reveals the details behind one of the most hard fought legal court cases in American history. Filled with human emotion, history, law, and sociology, the author delves into the back stories involving the efforts of the 1954 decision by the Supreme Court of the United States in the case of Brown v. Board of Education.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Stanton Baker

    What a long book. Really rewarding read though, you get a good sense of the environment that the court proceedings took place in as well as the individual personalities interspersed throughout the judicial process and society at large.

  19. 4 out of 5

    James

    Knowing more of the subsequent history makes this into less of a triumph and more of a tragedy. The entire book now feels like it belongs inside one of the early chapters of some future historian's book on a landmark case of the 22nd century.

  20. 5 out of 5

    Ian Duvenhage

    A monumental work; much recommended for every American but I dare say compulsory for every American in politics. We would have a very different country if Paul Ryan and Mitch McConnell read Simple Justice.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Jane Thompson

    Law Story This is an excellent history. The author brings together the people and the events that made Brown vs. the Board of Education succed . It is a good read and a very fulfilling one.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Randy Fonner

    Great book maybe a little too much detail - but still a very interesting read!

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joe Boutte

    Must read for anyone interested in American history, perseverance, law, and justice.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mark Banaszak

    Couldn’t stop reading. I wish I had read it 20 years ago. If you haven’t read it yet, you should read it.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Missmath144

    Separate but equal was never equal. Supreme Court decision upheld Jim Crow laws and the Federal govt. abided by Jim Crow laws in their own employment, cafeteria, offices, etc. The Garland Fund (Charles Garland's inheritance that he set up as a trust, living as a farmer himself) provided money to attack segregation. The Margold Plan proposed not to dispute the legality of segregation, but to sue institutions and/or states for not providing equal education as per segregation laws. Attack graduate sc Separate but equal was never equal. Supreme Court decision upheld Jim Crow laws and the Federal govt. abided by Jim Crow laws in their own employment, cafeteria, offices, etc. The Garland Fund (Charles Garland's inheritance that he set up as a trust, living as a farmer himself) provided money to attack segregation. The Margold Plan proposed not to dispute the legality of segregation, but to sue institutions and/or states for not providing equal education as per segregation laws. Attack graduate schools first, as states can't afford to provide dual grad programs. Brown vs. Bd. of Ed. attacked segregation per se. 1954, the Supreme Court, headed by Chief Justice Earl Warren, decided unanimously that segregation per se is unequal. But they decided to move slowly to do away with it -- a mistake. Quick action would have resulted in less friction.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Yvonne Ryan

    This is an extraordinarily readable account of the long battle to desegregate public schools, although the implications were much more far-reaching than that. Kluger manages to make what could have been a dry, legalistic report into a gripping story of courage and determination. His portraits of the main characters, of the lawyers, the plaintiffs and those who resisted change, are sympathetic and three-dimensional. He writes vivdly about the lengths to which both sides went to present their case This is an extraordinarily readable account of the long battle to desegregate public schools, although the implications were much more far-reaching than that. Kluger manages to make what could have been a dry, legalistic report into a gripping story of courage and determination. His portraits of the main characters, of the lawyers, the plaintiffs and those who resisted change, are sympathetic and three-dimensional. He writes vivdly about the lengths to which both sides went to present their cases. It's a rare book that is convincing both as a scholarly account of a complex collection of cases, and as a fascinating account of a courageous group of people.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Dennis Fischman

    It took more than one lawsuit to make segregation illegal, and it will take more than lawsuits to make it go away. But deep in my heart, I do believe.... I would have liked to give this book five stars. It's such a definitive history, and its heart is so obviously in the right place. Its analysis of legal argument and strategy is enlightening. But Kluger never met a small town in the South he didn't want to describe in topographical detail, nor a civil rights lawyer (nor opponent) whose career an It took more than one lawsuit to make segregation illegal, and it will take more than lawsuits to make it go away. But deep in my heart, I do believe.... I would have liked to give this book five stars. It's such a definitive history, and its heart is so obviously in the right place. Its analysis of legal argument and strategy is enlightening. But Kluger never met a small town in the South he didn't want to describe in topographical detail, nor a civil rights lawyer (nor opponent) whose career and personal quirks he didn't take time to analyze in anatomical detail. The book could have been 200 pages shorter for my money without losing a thing.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sherri

    I read this book in college, as a class requirement, and I approached it as work rather then enjoyment. It was a long book but it was very well written, (felt a bit like a novel), so it wasn't a burden and I really enjoyed it. The author was able to give all the facts without leaving out the emotion and making the entire book not just a history lesson, but a story that many people would enjoy reading. If I ever get the time I would love to read this again so that I may truly appreciate the entir I read this book in college, as a class requirement, and I approached it as work rather then enjoyment. It was a long book but it was very well written, (felt a bit like a novel), so it wasn't a burden and I really enjoyed it. The author was able to give all the facts without leaving out the emotion and making the entire book not just a history lesson, but a story that many people would enjoy reading. If I ever get the time I would love to read this again so that I may truly appreciate the entire book.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Nora

    This is supposed to be the definitive history of the legal struggle for equal education in America. Good shit, but it is LONG. Mostly the story of Brown v. Board and the NAACP lawyers who fought so hard for it. Thoroughly researched and very impressive... Towards the beginning it's heavy on the story of the people who would become plaintiffs and then towards the end it's got a lot of Supreme Court insider stories. Written by a white guy, but he is pretty thoughtful and has an amazing vocabulary.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Chris

    Kluger could have paid better tribute to the men and women who devoted their lives to ending school segregation by structuring the book around the players, strategies, or legal issues involved. Instead this story gets churned through the author's politics and language/diatribes to that effect. The story of the NAACP is very detailed, and the legal defense fund lawyers come across as brilliant and devoted, so I would recommend it to anyone looking for an inspiring account of this (or any) legal c Kluger could have paid better tribute to the men and women who devoted their lives to ending school segregation by structuring the book around the players, strategies, or legal issues involved. Instead this story gets churned through the author's politics and language/diatribes to that effect. The story of the NAACP is very detailed, and the legal defense fund lawyers come across as brilliant and devoted, so I would recommend it to anyone looking for an inspiring account of this (or any) legal crusade. Just expect to want to muzzle the author when you finish this 800 page book.

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