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Telford Taylor became famous for his role as the chief American prosecutor at the Nuremberg war crimes trials. At Nuremberg, he broke German field marshal Erich von Manstein on the witness stand and delivered the eloquent opening argument in the medical case against the Nazi doctors for human experimentation and euthanasia. Through Taylor’s efforts, people around the world learned the shocking details of depraved doctors who committed medical atrocities, of industrialists who systematically used slave labor and armed the Nazis, and of government officials who sanctioned murder. Under his leadership, some 185 people were indicted and tried for war crimes. Only 35 were acquitted.

But Taylor’s remarkable career stretched well beyond the milestones he achieved in Germany. The standing he gained there allowed him to emerge as a public voice of conscience in the civil liberties struggles that followed the war. For more than six decades, starting with the New Deal and going through the early 1990s, Taylor the litigator, writer, and academic embodied the best of American legal liberalism and served as an outspoken critic of public affairs on subjects ranging from McCarthyism to the trial of Adolf Eichmann to the Vietnam War.

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