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Showdown

Thurgood Marshall and the Supreme Court Nomination That Changed America
Narrated by: Dominic Hoffman
Length: 14 hrs and 25 mins
4.5 out of 5 stars (194 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Thurgood Marshall brought down the separate-but-equal doctrine, integrated schools, and not only fought for human rights and human dignity but also made them impossible to deny in the courts and in the streets. In this new biography, award-winning author Wil Haygood surpasses the emotional impact of his inspiring best seller The Butler to detail the life and career of one of the most transformative legal minds of the past 100 years.

Using the framework of the contentious five-day Senate hearing to confirm Marshall as the first African-American Supreme Court justice, Haygood creates a provocative and moving look at Marshall's life as well as the politicians, lawyers, activists, and others who shaped - or desperately tried to stop - the civil rights movement of the 20th century: President Lyndon Johnson; Congressman Adam Clayton Powell, Jr., whose scandals almost cost Marshall the Supreme Court judgeship; Harry and Harriette Moore, the NAACP workers killed by the KKK; Justice J. Waties Waring, a racist lawyer from South Carolina, who, after being appointed to the federal court, became such a champion of civil rights that he was forced to flee the South; John, Robert, and Ted Kennedy; Senator Strom Thurmond, the renowned racist from South Carolina, who had a black mistress and child; North Carolina senator Sam Ervin, who tried to use his Constitutional expertise to block Marshall's appointment; Senator James Eastland of Mississippi, the head of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who stated that segregation was "the law of nature, the law of God"; Arkansas senator John McClellan, who, as a boy, after Teddy Roosevelt invited Booker T. Washington to dinner at the White House, wrote a prize-winning school essay proclaiming that Roosevelt had destroyed the integrity of the presidency; and so many others.

This galvanizing book makes clear that it is impossible to overestimate Thurgood Marshall's lasting influence on the racial politics of our nation.

©2015 Wil Haygood (P)2015 Random House Audio

Critic Reviews

"Wil Haygood has brought us an elegant, fascinating and important tale, rendered with relentless originality and the author's superb gift of portraiture. Showdown reveals the essence of the great Thurgood Marshall, as well as the historical forces and often surprising backstage mechanics that enabled him to become the first African-American Supreme Court Justice." (Michael Beschloss)

"[A]ccessible...moving...well-rounded. This is the definitive account of the life of a major American hero who deserves wider recognition." (Publishers Weekly)

"Dominic Hoffman offers an effective and engaging narration." (AudioFile)

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

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  • Overall
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Haygood is master of the ticktock narrative

“Showdown” is not a standard biography. Haygood frames the book through the confirmation fight of Thurgood Marshall. The author provides flashbacks to provide more information of the life of Thurgood Marshall and the various Senators of the Justice Committee. The suspense build and build as Marshal faced off against a wolf pack of Southern Senators who were determined to block his nomination to the Supreme Court in July 1967. President Johnson let these white supremacist senators know he would just continue to nominate one black person after another in a showdown with the Dixiecrats.

Historically only a handful of Supreme Court nominees had faced much scrutiny from the Senate until the Marshall hearings in 1967, which changed all nominations since then. The Chairman of the Judicial Committee was an unabashed white supremacist, Senator James Eastland of Mississippi. Eastland’s father lead a lynching of a black man on his cotton plantation and his daughter was crowned Miss Confederacy in 1956. Eastland conducted the hearings with open hostility of Marshall. Marshall faced one after the other of the old Southern bulls of the Committee such as Strom Thurmond and Sam Ervin. Everett Dirksen, a Republican, led a coalition of Senators to successfully confirm Marshall’s appointment to the Supreme Court.

The book is well written and well researched. Haygood does a good job avoiding getting mired in legal jargon. If you are interested in Civil Rights or the Supreme Court this is a must read for you. Reading this book and listening to the current news I am struck that this country has not changed its racial prejudice, until now I had believed we had overcome our racial prejudice and fear of people that have different believes, but current events have proved me wrong. Dominic Hoffman did an excellent job narrating the book; his accents were good except for that of Robert and Edward Kennedy.

8 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Hard to follow

This covered a very important part of US history and unfortunate culture. The side stories provided by the author were eye opening but often made me confused about where we were and who the side story was relating to.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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The Narrator Mumbles

This narrator had a tendency to mumble and poorly enunciated his words. The book was not well written.

If you want to listen / read a good book on Thurgood Marshall I would recommend Gilbert King's Devil in the Grove.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Not what I expected

I was hoping to hear a lot more about Thurgood Marshall, instead, there were hours of content about other people, the slave revolt, and the History of Texas. Not that this isn’t good information, just not what I selected this book for.

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Brilliant! Fine U.S. history

This book on Thurgood Marshall should be required reading for anyone interested in 20th century American history. It is well-written and engaging throughout. My only slight issue is that the author goes down tangents, important as they are, that sometimes go for too long and detract from the main focus of the story. but I nevertheless love this from start to finish and came to truly appreciate Thurgood Marshall.

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Beautiful

Such a beautiful and important story of the man that I believe is the greatest American of the 20th century.

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Inspiring story, incredible man!

Well written story drawing in the characters and issues of the time, personalizing the impact of the judicial triumphs and defeats.

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Brilliant Mind

Will Haywood's biography of the time period that involved the nomination and successful selection of Thurgood Marshall to the U. S. Supreme Court is captivating and unsparing in the horrors Mr. Marshall encountered in his career. I am particularly grateful for the informative descriptions of the politicians who were in strong opposition to Thurgood Marshall's nomination. I also gained considerable appreciation of the efforts of Lyndon Johnson, who was a unique amalgamation of the heroic, shrewdness, ruthlessness, blind ambition, cruelty, civic, albeit flawed, and social awareness.

It give me hope about the ever complicated evolution of America's constitutional democracy.

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Excellence at its finest. Marshall

So much detail i love this book. Reader was great. He is so important to American History. True Warrior

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Must read US history, legal history, civil rights

Very well done. The life and times of Thurgood Marshall could never be captured in a single book, but this author weaves the various contextual threads together rather seamlessly and really just brilliantly. Must read for any lawyer, civil rights advocate, or historian, if it were up to me they would use this book in high school history classes, it revolves around the hearing but it is so much more.

1 of 2 people found this review helpful