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book cover: A Life in War, Law, and Ideas

“Oliver Wendell Holmes: A Life in War, Law and Ideas” by Stephen Budiansky.  Norton Press 2019, 592 pages, $29.95

Among the various theories of history and its interpretations, questions are often asked: Does one individual matter? Or, more aptly for the subject of this biography of Oliver Wendell Holmes: Does one person stand out as a paradigmatic representation of an institution? For the U.S. Supreme Court, among historians and cognoscenti of lawyers and judges, John Marshall rests on the highest pedestal. Marshal, as a member of the elite founders class, was even more importantly a foundational implementer and builder of the central role that the Supreme Court has played in the nation’s governance. (see, “John Marshall, The Man Who Made the Supreme Court” [Richard Brookshier]; book review by Joseph W. Bellacosa, NYLJ, May 24, 2019, p. 6 col. 4).

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