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Another Side of Clarence Thomas


— September 4, 2004

Books about Clarence Thomas usually seek either to praise or to bury him. And biographers who are fans — of whom there are already several — tend to believe that his life is enough; that Thomas’s past is itself so incredible, the odds he’s surmounted so astonishing, that his story alone suffices to explain and rehabilitate him. If there’s a faint strain of affirmative action at work in this theory, it eludes Ken Foskett, whose ”Judging Thomas: The Life and Times of Clarence Thomas,” fits solidly into that camp.

”Judging Thomas” grew out of a three-part series in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the Clarence Thomas we do not know. The result is a warm, intimate portrait of the private man behind the angry mask so often observed on the bench. We see Thomas as devoted grandson to a too-strict grandfather; Thomas as avuncular boss to his law clerks; Thomas as perennial charmer in the hallways of the Supreme Court; and Thomas as doting great-uncle to his great-nephew. For anyone who’s followed Thomas’s remarkable Horatio Alger rise from poverty in the segregated South to his position on the Supreme Court, this story is already familiar.

Details here from Dahlia Lithwick in tomorrow’s New York Times. (via How Appealing)


Books about Clarence Thomas usually seek either to praise or to bury him. And biographers who are fans — of whom there are already several — tend to believe that his life is enough; that Thomas’s past is itself so incredible, the odds he’s surmounted so astonishing, that his story alone suffices to explain and rehabilitate him. If there’s a faint strain of affirmative action at work in this theory, it eludes Ken Foskett, whose ”Judging Thomas: The Life and Times of Clarence Thomas,” fits solidly into that camp.

”Judging Thomas” grew out of a three-part series in The Atlanta Journal-Constitution about the Clarence Thomas we do not know. The result is a warm, intimate portrait of the private man behind the angry mask so often observed on the bench. We see Thomas as devoted grandson to a too-strict grandfather; Thomas as avuncular boss to his law clerks; Thomas as perennial charmer in the hallways of the Supreme Court; and Thomas as doting great-uncle to his great-nephew. For anyone who’s followed Thomas’s remarkable Horatio Alger rise from poverty in the segregated South to his position on the Supreme Court, this story is already familiar.

Details here from Dahlia Lithwick in tomorrow’s New York Times. (via How Appealing)

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