Friday, February 18, 2005

New Book on Harvard Law

There is a new book on Harvard Law School: Andrew Peyton Thomas's The People vs. Harvard Law: How America's Oldest Law School Turned Its Back on Free Speech. Peyton Thomas is a Harvard Law graduate himself, and wrote an amazingly thorough biography of Justice Clarence Thomas that was published in 2001. Here's what the publisher has to say about the new book:
In 2002, Kiwi Camara, a Filipino-American student studying at the Harvard Law School, joined most of his classmates in posting his class outlines for the previous year on the school website. But in his notes, Camara had used shorthand terms that some regarded as racial slurs. In the furor that followed, administrators proposed a speech code to prohibit members of the law school community from voicing racially insensitive remarks. The chain of events triggered by this decision convulsed the nation’s oldest and most prestigious school of law, and called into question its commitment to freedom of speech and basic constitutional liberties.

The clashing ideas and personalities of this case are at the core of The People v. Harvard Law. In this fascinating insider’s account, Andrew Peyton Thomas recounts how the school’s intellectual heavyweights — Charles Fried, Alan Dershowitz, Laurence Tribe, Charles Nessen [sic] and others — were drawn into open conflict with each other and with the administration. Thomas takes us into the administrative offices, faculty lounges and classrooms, showing that the Camara case is only the latest front in a culture war that has ravaged Harvard Law over the last 25 years. Racial demagogues have challenged its integrity and sense of mission; a growing cadre of Marxist-inspired professors have taught that American law is a sham controlled by white capitalist oppressors; and students who dissent from this smothering orthodoxy are hissed at in class and openly harassed throughout the school.
That last sentence sounds a bit overheated. In any event,
it occurs to me that there have been quite a few books about Harvard Law School: Then there was the movie The Paper Chase. It's a bit bizarre to see so much attention paid to one law school.

Stuart Buck


Anonymous Anonymous said...

also, add Legally Blond, tagentially. And if we're going to get into novels where characters have been to HLS, the list gets even longer.

Waddling Thunder

5:29 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

You've overlooked the best straight history of HLS: The Law at Harvard: A History of Ideas and Men, 1817-1967, by Arthur E. Sutherland. It's a superb history of the school (written for the 150th Anniversary), and it serves as a very interesting snapshot of the school on the eve of Legal Realism and the subsequent conservative counterrevolution.

I simply can't over-recommend it. I think that more HLS students should read it in their time at the school; I only wish I'd read it before my 2L year.

11:49 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

There's also Brush With the Law, half of which is about HLS (the other have being SLS).

9:50 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The self-absorption of Harvard generally is fascinating. There's an entire article about the school in Atlantic this month by Douthat. I mean, come on people -- do you folks have *any* notion of how ridiculous you look?

10:12 AM  
Blogger Stuart Buck said...

Self-absorption might explain why someone affiliated with Harvard would write a book/article about it. But it doesn't really explain why multiple editors would think that the general public would be interested in reading about it, enough to be worth publishing the book/article in question. That's what I find vaguely odd.

1:26 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would take issue with the publisher's characterization of Alan Dershowitz as an intellectual heavyweight.

11:13 AM  

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