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

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

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The extraordinary story of the U.S. Supreme Court’s most influential justice.

Oliver Wendell Holmes twice escaped death as a young Union officer in the Civil War when musket balls missed his heart and spinal cord by a fraction of an inch at the Battles of Ball’s Bluff and Antietam. He lived ever after with unwavering moral courage, unremitting scorn for dogma, and an insatiable intellectual curiosity.

Named to the Supreme Court by Theodore Roosevelt at age sixty-one, he served for nearly three decades, writing a series of famous, eloquent, and often dissenting 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 by showing how the law always evolved to meet the changing needs of society. As an enthusiastic friend and indefatigable correspondent, he wrote thousands of personal letters brimming with humorous philosophical insights, trenchant comments on the current scene, and an abiding joy in fighting the good fight.

Drawing on many previously unpublished letters and records, Stephen Budiansky’s definitive biography offers the fullest portrait yet of this pivotal American figure, whose zest for life, wit, and intellect left a profound legacy in law and Constitutional rights, and who was an inspiring example of how to lead a meaningful life in a world of uncertainty and upheaval.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781494537357
Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date: 05/28/2019
Edition description: Unabridged
Sales rank: 783,443
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 5.30(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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