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The Story Of My Life by Clarence Darrow

The Story Of My Life

by Clarence Darrow

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The autobiography of Clarence Darrow needs no review – the great man’s deeds speak for themselves, and the book offers an excellent view into his philosophical musings on life, the law and justice. Instead, I offer selected quotes that seemed particularly poignant when I discovered them, in hopes they may be of use to myself or others when in need of a brilliant thinker’s backing.

On war:
Wars always bring about a conservative reaction. They overwhelm and destroy patient and careful efforts to improve the condition of man. Nothing can be heard in the cannon’s roar but the voice of might. All thee safeguards laboriously built to preserve individual freedom and foster men’s welfare are blown to pieces with shot and shell.

Darrow’s recounting of the Scopes trial is amazing, as evidenced by his description of William Jennings Bryant (who at various points Darrow backed for president):
Mr. Bryan was the logical man to prosecute the case. He had not been inside a courtroom for forty years, but that made no difference, for he did not represent a real case; he represented religion, and in this he was the idol of all Morondom. His scientific attitude was epigrammatically stated in various speeches and interviews regarding what he did not know about science. He said that he was “not so much interested in the age of rocks as in the Rock of Ages.”

Regarding the enormous amount of letters he received during the Scopes Trial:
The number of people on the borderline of insanity in a big country is simply appalling, and these seem especially addicted to believing themselves saviors and prophets. It takes only a slight stimulus to throw them completely off their balance.

On judgment and jury selection:
No one ever judges any one else without finding him guilty, no one ever understands another without being in sympathy with him. A person who can understand can comprehend why, and that leaves no field for condemning. ( )
  thoughtbox | May 28, 2016 |
Darrow reflects on a life devoted to public service and to defense of civil liberties, and to the rights of the unpopular and indigent to a fair trial. He comments at length on crime and punishment, and his proposals are as germane today as they were 60 years ago.
The Haywood trial is a useful paradigm for Darrow's activities. Ex-governor Steunenberg of Idaho was killed, allegedly because of his repressive actions during a bitter coal mining strike. Two leaders of the coal mining union, William Haywood and Charles Moyer, were accused of masterminding the killing. They could not be legally extradited from Colorado to Idaho because they were nowhere near Idaho when the bombing occurred, so they were illegally kidnapped by police agents who forced them into Idaho where Darrow defended them brilliantly, ultimately leading to their acquittal.
Darrow was constantly defending victims of governmental abuse of power. Prohibition provided lots of business. Excessive punishment became the order of the day. (A woman in Michigan was sentenced to life in prison for selling 1/2 pint of whiskey.) The parallels to today's "no-holds-barred" war on drugs: i.e. the only way to prevent behavior is through the use of increasingly severe penalties, are evident. The more things change.... Darrow believed that to inspire behavioral change society needs to remove the cause of the anti-social behavior. Naive perhaps, but has it ever been tried?
( )
  ecw0647 | Sep 30, 2013 |
KF373 .D35 A3 1996 (VJH)
  Farella | Mar 29, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0306807386, Paperback)

In The Story of My Life recounts, and reflects on, his more than fifty years as a corporate, labor, and criminal lawyer, including the most celebrated and notorious cases of his day: establishing the legal right of a union to strike in the Woodworkers' Conspiracy Case; exposing, on behalf of the United Mine Workers, the shocking conditions in the mines and the widespread use of child labor; defending Leopold and Loeb in the Chicago "thrill" murder case; defending a teacher's right to present the Darwinian theory of evolution in the famous Scopes trial; fighting racial hatred in the Sweet anti-Negro and the Scottsboro cases; and much more. Written in his disarming, conversational style, and full of refreshingly relevant views on capital punishment, civil liberties, and the judicial system, Darrow's autobiography is a fitting final summation of a remarkable life.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:15:57 -0400)

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