01 February 2013

Review: My Grandfather's Son

My Grandfather's Son
My Grandfather's Son by Clarence Thomas

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

To say that Clarence Thomas is one of the most polarizing Supreme Court justices is probably an understatement, and given that his confirmation was over 20 years ago at this point, many of us coming into politics now, or coming into it in the last decade, know very little of him outside of what is reported and what happens on the Supreme Court.

It was with some excitement (after having a copy of this book for nearly five years) and trepidation that I picked this up to read with all of that in mind. The good news is that there's a lot of good biographical information and stories in here. We get a good look at how Thomas came to be as a person, and how his childhood and education formed his work ethic. We get some flashes as to his demeanor as well, something that doesn't come across very well on the Court given his general silence. In that area, the book is very successful.

The one downside, and a major one for me, is that this book is basically apolitical. Politics come into play, for certain, but mostly as sidebars to the more important stories he's telling. If you're looking for any real insight as to his judicial philosophy or how he got there in terms of explicit legal or political reasoning, you won't find it here. You can definitely connect plenty of dots along the way, but in terms of what I think I came here to get, it just wasn't there.

This is definitely a good read, and I recommend it for any court watchers out there, but hopefully we'll get something similar to Scalia Dissents for Thomas sometime in the future.

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