Sunday, January 29, 2023

Taking The Stand by Alan Dershowitz


This autobiography, released in 2013, gives the reader insight into the life of Alan Dershowitz, one of America's most prominent attorneys.  He grew up in New York City in a very strict Jewish Orthodox family and from childhood, was determined to give his opinion on most things.  That didn't go over well in his religious school, and he graduated with very low grades.  But once he got to college, the traits that were disparaged in his youth were celebrated and he graduated at the top of his class.  He clerked for several judges, including at the Supreme Court and then went to teach at Harvard.  He has remained there since while also practicing law.

One of his early focuses was on freedom of speech and his first case at the Supreme Court was defending a movie considered pornography and the actors who were in it.  He also defended the right of Neo-Nazis to congregate a religious events and other freedom of speech issues.  

To most readers, the most interesting part of the book is where he discusses his criminal trials.  He takes many cases pro bono but has been involved in many cases where the defendant was famous.  These cases include O.J. Simpson, Claus Van Bulow, Jeffrey McDonald and Mike Tyson as well as others.  He discusses the cases of Woody Allen and Mia Farrow, that of Marlon Brando's son, and other famous cases.  Dershowitz sees many prosecutors and defense attorneys who go into cases unprepared and who don't research enough to find the truth in many cases.  He also is a big proponent of attorneys learning the latest forensic techniques used today such as DNA matches but many have only a glancing acquaintance with the science.  

Dershowitz now spends much of his time defending Israel, an extension of his work defending political prisoners worldwide.  He sees a rise in anti-Semitism both here and abroad and works to defray it.  He also writes extensively and still teaches one semester a year at Harvard.  The book gives personal stories from his life such as the brain tumor that his first born son had to overcome and his divorce from his first wife and finding his second wife.  He is truly one of the most prominent attorneys practicing today and readers will find his life fascinating.  This book is recommended for nonfiction readers interested in the law.   

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