Oliver Wendell Holmes: A Life in War, Law, and Ideas

Oliver Wendell Holmes: A Life in War, Law, and Ideas

by Stephen Budiansky


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“Consistently gripping.… [I]t’s possessed of a zest and omnivorous curiosity that reflects the boundless energy of its subject.” —Steve Donoghue, Christian Science Monitor

Oliver Wendell Holmes escaped death twice as a young Union officer in the Civil War. He lived ever after with unwavering moral courage, unremitting scorn for dogma, and an insatiable intellectual curiosity. During his nearly three decades on the Supreme Court, he wrote a series of opinions that would prove prophetic in securing freedom of speech, protecting the rights of criminal defendants, and ending the Court’s reactionary resistance to social and economic reforms.

As a pioneering legal scholar, Holmes revolutionized the understanding of common law. As an enthusiastic friend, he wrote thousands of letters brimming with an abiding joy in fighting the good fight. Drawing on many previously unpublished letters and records, Stephen Budiansky offers the fullest portrait yet of this pivotal American figure.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780393358209
Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
Publication date: 06/02/2020
Pages: 592
Sales rank: 141,751
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

Stephen Budiansky is a historian, author, and journalist whose writing has appeared in the Atlantic, the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, and the Washington Post. A recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, he resides in Loudoun County, Virginia.

Table of Contents

Prologue: "What a Medley of a Man!" 1

1 Dr. Holmes's Boston 23

2 A New England Boyhood 48

3 Harvard's Regiment 72

4 The Wilderness 100

5 "Society of Jobbists" 127

6 The Common Law 152

7 Holmes J. 179

8 Labor, Capital, and Dames 202

9 Ideals and Doubts 229

10 "So Great and So Different" 257

11 Due Process 283

12 1720 Eye Street 306

13 Holmes Dissenting 335

14 Free Speech 366

15 Taft's Court 396

16 "My Last Examination" 420

Epilogue: "Men Who Never Heard of Him Will Be Moving to the Measure of His Thought" 453

Abbreviations 463

Notes 465

Bibliography 525

Index of Court Cases 539

Subject Index 545

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