“Wonderfully evocative… Donald McRae captures the Great Defender in all his complexity.... A joy to read.” — Kevin Boyle, National Book Award-winning author of Arc of Justice
"Astonishingly vivid." —James Tobin, Award-winning author of Ernie Pyle’s War
The story of the three dramatic trials that resurrected the life and career of America’s most colorful—and controversial—defense attorney: Clarence Darrow. Many books, plays, and movies have covered Darrow and the trials of Leopold and Loeb, John T. Scopes, and Ossian Sweet before: Geoffrey Cowan’s The People v. Clarence Darrow; Simon Baatz’s For the Thrill of It; Kevin Boyle’s Arc of Justice; Meyer Levin’s Compulsion and the film adaptation of the same name; Inherit the Wind; but few, if any, have achieved the intimacy and immediacy of Donald McRae’s The Great Trials of Clarence Darrow.
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The courtroom has been a dramatic setting for larger-than-life figures throughout history, but few have attained the almost mythical status of Clarence Darrow. A legend in his own time, Variety called him "America's greatest one-man stage draw." Here was a man whose flair for showmanship went hand in hand with a fierce intellect; a man whose shaky moral compass and staggering conceit collided at all turns with an unrivaled eloquence and an overwhelming compassion for humanity.
Darrow had been one of the most revered lawyers in the country, but in 1924 his reputation was still clouded after a narrow escape from a charge of jury tampering in Los Angeles. At the age of sixty-seven he thought his life and career were almost over, until he was offered an impossible assignment—the defense of the teenage "thrill killers" Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb. Darrow then went on to earn even more international acclaim in two other groundbreaking cases: a classic standoff against William Jennings Bryan in the Scopes Monkey Trial in Tennessee, and the Ossian Sweet murder trial in Detroit. Throughout two crammed and dizzying years, this lion of the court held the Western world in awe as he tackled these three starkly different, history-making cases, each in turn dubbed "the Trial of the Century."
But these trials, as important as they were to Darrow, were not the only events that helped rejuvenate him and seal his courtroom legacy. There was also his enduring relationship with Mary Field Parton, his lover and soul mate, a woman whose role toward the end of his career was larger than many have realized. With fascinating new research and discoveries, including her private journals and letters, The Last Trials of Clarence Darrow is an intimate and riveting depiction of this American icon, one of the greatest lawyers this country has ever seen.About the Author:
Donald McRae is the acclaimed author of five nonfiction books, including Every Second Counts: The Race to Transplant the First Human Heart and Heroes Without a Country: America's Betrayal of Joe Louis and Jesse Owens. He is the only writer to have won the William Hill UK Sports Book of the Year Award twice. In 2005 he was named Feature Writer of the Year for his work in The Guardian. McRae lives near London with his family.
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