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Cover image for Dream makers, dream breakers : the world of Justice Thurgood Marshall
Dream makers, dream breakers : the world of Justice Thurgood Marshall
1st ed.
Publication Information:
Boston, Mass. : Little, Brown, c1993.
Physical Description:
xvii, 475 p. : illustrations ; 24 cm.
General Note:
Includes bibliographical references and index.


Material Type
Call Number
Item Available
Book 921 MARSHAL 1 1

On Order



According to Carl Rowan, writing this impassioned biography of Justice Thurgood Marshall was tantamount to trying to write the social, legal, economic, political, and moral history of this nation over most of the twentieth century. Crucial events in American history, such as the black migration out of the postbellum South, the rise of the Ku Klux Klan, the Great Depression, and the African-American revolution of the 1960s are magnificently portrayed within the context of Justice Marshall's unrelenting mission to fulfill the promise of equal justice for every American.

Author Notes

Until his death in September 2000, Carl T. Rowan was one of America's most distinguished journalists as well as a Peabody and Emmy-winning columnist and television and radio commentator

Reviews 3

Kirkus Review

Rowan (Breaking Barriers, 1991, etc.) condenses 40 years of friendship and professional contact into a solid, if highly laudatory, life of the ex-Supreme Court justice. Rowan leaves no doubt about his point of view, (Marshall is ``one of the great human beings of our time'')but he broadens his scope to include discussions of significant human-rights cases in American courts through the 50 years of Marshall's legal career. From proud, humble beginnings in Baltimore, the man who would become the first African-American to serve on the nation's highest court found a focus when he was denied entrance to the University of Maryland Law School because of his race. Gaining his degree elsewhere, Marshall returned to Baltimore as an NAACP attorney, making one of his first cases a successful suit in 1935 against the law school that had denied him entrance, forcing it to accept its first black student. Other NAACP efforts in Missouri and Tennessee- -where Marshall was nearly lynched in 1946--followed, leading ultimately to the dismantling of the ``separate but equal'' doctrine and culminating in the landmark Supreme Court decision of 1954 that signalled the end of legal segregation. Marshall's prominence in these measures was acknowledged by his appointment to the US Circuit Court of Appeals in 1962, followed swiftly by Lyndon Johnson's naming him Solicitor General. He reached the Supreme Court in 1967, beginning a stormy but effective tenure that lasted until his retirement in 1991. Exceptionally candid, and full of private details and lengthy quotations from interviews and court records, this goes beyond hagiography to demonstrate what one resolute, capable man could do to overcome injustice and to make the American dream more of a reality for his fellow citizens. (Eight pages of b&w photographs- -not seen.)

Booklist Review

Rowan has interviewed Marshall intermittently since 1953, when the lawyer was on the verge of winning the famed Brown v. Board of Education decision. Now Rowan, after recording his own battles against segregation in Breaking Barriers [BKL O 1 90], ventilates the similar trials of the former Supreme Court justice in confronting and ultimately destroying the reign of Jim Crow. Because of Marshall's position at the NAACP, large portions of this work record the internal history of that eminent organization--for example, periodic wrangling around the "separatist" versus "integrationist" position blacks ought to seek in a predominately white society. Marshall was committed to the latter view, as shown by his litigation in Brown and with regard to whites-only elections in South Carolina and Texas, but his courage was apparently not just intellectual: he once personally confronted a would-be lynch mob of unreconstructed racists. As inspiring as his example is to millions, and Rowan holds back no dollop of adulation, coverage of the pinnacle of Marshall's career, the 25 years on the Supreme Court, seems to drift in predictable directions. Not only are Marshall's opinions on abortion, criminal rights, affirmative action, and like social issues uncritically repeated, but Marshall himself refused to reveal to Rowan the inside dope on the Court's secret conferences. Yet the verbatim excerpts from the pair's conversations reflect what an indignation born of injustice can achieve, resulting in an informative tribute few will want to ignore. ~--Gilbert Taylor

Choice Review

The appearance of Rowan's biographical memoir of Justice Thurgood Marshall served in a way as an anticipatory eulogy of the great justice whose death in January of this year the nation mourned. Journalist Rowan, as a friend of long standing and as an inquiring reporter, had access to the man and to the record. He has made use of his opportunity to present a biography rich in anecdote and in recollection but, unhappily, only superficial in analysis and evaluation of Justice Marshall's precedent-breaking career. Marshall was an aggressive, powerful civil rights attorney and leader and a justice presiding over the elaboration of the victories he won as lawyer. He was also the increasingly embittered dissenter from the restrictive Court majority which grew up around him in the later years of his tenure. Rowan's account is rich in materials that help illuminate the character of the man and for that the book is to be valued--by others preparing the fuller, more analytic biographies sure to follow. The brief bibliography and index would have benefited from fuller and more precise source citation throughout the book. General readers. L. Weinstein; Smith College

Table of Contents

Prefacep. xi
Acknowledgmentsp. xv
Chapter 1 Changing "the American Way of Life"p. 3
Chapter 2 The Making of a Manp. 22
Chapter 3 The Early Yearsp. 33
Chapter 4 Revenge--Then a National Crusadep. 50
Chapter 5 Warfare among NAACP Blacksp. 58
Chapter 6 A Black Agenda Emergesp. 69
Chapter 7 Triple Murderp. 79
Chapter 8 Race Warsp. 98
Chapter 9 Winning the Right to Votep. 124
Chapter 10 "Lady Big Heart"p. 130
Chapter 11 Arming Blacks with Trained Intelligencep. 143
Chapter 12 Soldier Troublesp. 159
Chapter 13 A Destructive Marriagep. 170
Chapter 14 Jim Crow's Last Stand?p. 182
Chapter 15 Sudden Deathp. 220
Chapter 16 Dream Breaker George Wallacep. 251
Chapter 17 Marshall the Jurist--and His Nemesisp. 272
Chapter 18 The Court--and Its Nonviolent Revolutionp. 310
Chapter 19 Mr. Justice Marshall's Rolep. 322
Chapter 20 A Nation of Men, Not Lawsp. 348
Chapter 21 Marshall with and without Law Clerksp. 376
Chapter 22 Disillusionment and Retirementp. 393
Chapter 23 The Clarence Thomas Fiascop. 418
Chapter 24 Measuring Marshall without Sentimentp. 432
Bibliographyp. 455
Indexp. 459
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