10 books like Simple Justice

By Richard Kluger,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Simple Justice. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Dividing Lines

By J. Mills Thornton,

Book cover of Dividing Lines: Municipal Politics and the Struggle for Civil Rights in Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma

Black southern mass action against segregation commenced in Montgomery, AL with the 1955-56 bus boycott that catapulted Martin Luther King, Jr., to national fame, then finally broke through U. S. presidential ambivalence with the 1963 protests in Birmingham that were met with heavily-photographed police violence, and culminated with the 1965 Selma marches that led to the enactment of the Voting Rights Act. These three Alabama cities represent the cornerstones of that dramatic 1955-1965 decade, and Thornton’s magisterial account of those movements’ local roots make it perhaps the most interpretively significant work of civil rights history ever written. A very close second is Adam Fairclough’s Race and Democracy: The Civil Rights Struggle in Louisiana, 1915-1972.

Dividing Lines

By J. Mills Thornton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Dividing Lines as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

With this bold offering from two decades of research, J. Mills Thornton III presents the story of the civil rights movement from the perspective of community-municipal history at the grassroots level. Thornton demonstrates that the movement had powerful local sources in its three birth cities - Montgomery, Birmingham, and Selma. There, the arcane mechanisms of state and city governance and the missteps of municipal politicians and civic leaders - independent of emerging national trends in racial mores - led to the great swell of energy for change that became the civil rights movement.


I've Got the Light of Freedom

By Charles M. Payne,

Book cover of I've Got the Light of Freedom: The Organizing Tradition and the Mississippi Freedom Struggle

Outside cities like that famous Alabama trio, most of the civil rights movement’s actual work took place in rural counties and small towns where combatting segregation could be even more dangerous than in Birmingham. Leading that charge was SNCC, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee, and Mississippi was the centerpiece of SNCC’s courageous local organizing. Charles Payne powerfully and poignantly captures the beauty and the perils of that work while also painfully reporting how in subsequent decades memories of that bravery too quickly faded. Clayborne Carson’s In Struggle remains the best organizational history of SNCC, and Francoise N. Hamlin’s Crossroads at Clarksdale is like Payne’s great book a valuable chronicle of Black courage and commitment in the Mississippi Delta.

I've Got the Light of Freedom

By Charles M. Payne,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked I've Got the Light of Freedom as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This momentous work offers a groundbreaking history of the early civil rights movement in the South with new material that situates the book in the context of subsequent movement literature.


Malcolm X

By Manning Marable,

Book cover of Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention

This was political scientist Marable's life work, finished right before his death --  and what an accomplishment! Marable dives so deeply into and verifies previously unknown territory. Though supportive of his subject, Marable offers complex and sometimes embarrassing information with no apologies. As a result, he produces the fullest portrait of Malcolm X to date, and the best case about why both the man and his ideas matter.

Malcolm X

By Manning Marable,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Malcolm X as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Winner of the Pulitzer Prize for History and a New York Times bestseller, the definitive biography of Malcolm X

Hailed as "a masterpiece" (San Francisco Chronicle), Manning Marable's acclaimed biography of Malcolm X finally does justice to one of the most influential and controversial figures of twentieth-century American history. Filled with startling new information and shocking revelations, Malcolm X unfolds a sweeping story of race and class in America. Reaching into Malcolm's troubled youth, it traces a path from his parents' activism as followers of Marcus Garvey through his own work with the Nation of Islam and rise in the…


Family Properties

By Beryl Satter,

Book cover of Family Properties: How the Struggle Over Race and Real Estate Transformed Chicago and Urban America

Purposefully racist policies in major Northern cities often focused on the financial exploitation of upwardly-aspiring African Americans, with government-endorsed predatory lending practices impoverishing—and often leaving homeless—thousands of Black home-buying families. “Redlining” may be a familiar word, but the actual mechanisms of financial discrimination require a penetrating, clear-eyed examination, and Beryl Satter’s powerful account of how last-resort ‘contract buying’ left newly-arrived Black residents in the West Side Chicago neighborhood of Lawndale vulnerable to being fleeced by racist manipulators is one of the most important books ever written about the Black freedom struggle in the north.

Family Properties

By Beryl Satter,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Family Properties as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

“Beryl Satter's Family Properties is really an incredible book. It is, by far, the best book I've ever read on the relationship between blacks and Jews. That's because it hones in on the relationship between one specific black community and one specific Jewish community and thus revels in the particular humanity of all its actors. In going small, it ultimately goes big.” ―Ta-Nehisi Coates, The Atlantic

Part family story and part urban history, a landmark investigation of segregation and urban decay in Chicago -- and cities across the nation

The "promised land" for thousands of Southern blacks, postwar Chicago quickly…


Make No Law

By Anthony Lewis,

Book cover of Make No Law: The Sullivan Case and the First Amendment

Anthony Lewis’s Gideon’s Trumpet may be the most famous journalistic account of a single Supreme Court case, but his Make No Law has the more compelling origin story. A representative of the Committee to Defend Martin Luther King and the Struggle for Freedom in the South walks into The New York Times headquarters to take out an advertisement. When the full-page ad, headlined “Heed Their Rising Voices,” was published, a number of southern officials took issue with how it described their actions with regard to protesters; one of them, Montgomery, Alabama, police commissioner L. B. Sullivan decided to sue the Times for libel. A local all-white jury ruled in Sullivan’s favor, but the U.S. Supreme Court in 1964 reversed the decision, enshrining a high standard for public figures to sue for defamation. Lewis, who covered the case for the Times, delivers an account that only tracks the maturity of…

Make No Law

By Anthony Lewis,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Make No Law as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A crucial and compelling account of New York Times Co. v. Sullivan, the landmark Supreme Court case that redefined libel, from the Pulitzer Prize–winning legal journalist Anthony Lewis.

The First Amendment puts it this way: "Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press." Yet, in 1960, a city official in Montgomery, Alabama, sued The New York Times for libel—and was awarded $500,000 by a local jury—because the paper had published an ad critical of Montgomery's brutal response to civil rights protests.

The centuries of legal precedent behind the Sullivan case and the U.S. Supreme Court's…


Liberty and Sexuality

By David J. Garrow,

Book cover of Liberty and Sexuality: The Right to Privacy and the Making of Roe V. Wade

In 1965, the Supreme Court ruled for the first time that the Constitution guaranteed a “right to privacy” as it struck down Connecticut’s longstanding ban on the sale and use of birth control. (Amazing trivia: the state legislator who drafted the state’s 1879 anti-contraceptive law was P.T. Barnum.) Garrow’s history recounts the decades-long efforts of Connecticut activists to challenge the restriction, and how lawyers shifted their choice of plaintiffs from doctors asserting the law interfered with their ability to provide medical advice to married women claiming a right to privacy within their marriages. In the years following Griswold v. Connecticut, the Supreme Court gradually expanded that novel privacy doctrine, extending it to the intimate decisions of unmarried people, and eventually to cover the right to an abortion with Roe v. Wade.

Liberty and Sexuality

By David J. Garrow,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Liberty and Sexuality as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

"Liberty and Sexuality" is a definitive account of the legal and political struggles that created the right to privacy and won constitutional protection for a woman's right to choose abortion. Roe v. Wade, the landmark 1973 U.S. Supreme Court ruling that established that right, grew out of not only efforts to legalize abortion but also out of earlier battles against statutes that criminalized birth control. When the U.S. Supreme Court in 1965, in Griswold v. Connecticut, voided such a prohibition as an outrageous intrusion upon marital privacy, it opened a previously unimagined constitutional door: the opportunity to argue that a…


Chadha

By Barbara Hinkson Craig,

Book cover of Chadha: The Story of an Epic Constitutional Struggle

The issue before the court in 1983’s Immigration and Naturalization Service v. Chadha concerned one of the grandest principles of the American project, the separation of powers, but the facts of the case were all at a tragically human scale. Jagdish Chadha had come to the United States as a student, but when the INS determined he had overstayed his visa it was not clear what to do with him. Born in colonial Kenya to Indian parents and then moved to the United States, explains Craig, “he was not deportable but he had no visa, no papers of any kind to show prospective employers.” After Congress stepped in to intervene with the INS’s handling of Chadha’s case, using a fairly obscure mechanism known as the “legislative veto,” litigators working with Ralph Nader volunteered to represent him; they saw an avenue to pull back lawmakers’ ability to meddle with administration policy…

Chadha

By Barbara Hinkson Craig,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Chadha as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1973 Jagdish Chadha found himself a man without a country, the victim of the decolonization of Kenya where, as a Kenyan of Indian descent, he was not allowed to return after having spent six years in the U.S. as a student. Barbara Hinkson Craig describes Chadha's effort to achieve legal residency in the U.S. and shows how it led to the Supreme Court decision to overrule the legislative veto, adjusting the balance of powers in the United States government.


Gunfight

By Adam Winkler,

Book cover of Gunfight: The Battle Over the Right to Bear Arms in America

I admire this book for its measured erudition on a topic (guns) that the author feels is the most formative cultural chasm in the US. Winkler, a renowned legal scholar, uses the 2008 Supreme Court Heller decision that enshrined the second amendment as an individual right to bear arms as the touchstone for a riveting and more wide-ranging investigation of the history of gun rights as well as gun control laws. Winkler finds historical precedents for the concept of an individual right (if not a mandate, in some cases) to bear arms.

However, what I found most surprising is Winkler’s account of the equally sturdy and deeply-rooted history of gun control and regulation. This revises the popular wisdom that gun control, essentially, has no history—that the US was a land of unfettered gun-toting and gun-owning that was only later thwarted by modern, liberal gun restrictions. On the contrary, by the…

Gunfight

By Adam Winkler,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Gunfight as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gunfight is a timely work examining America's four-centuries-long political battle over gun control and the right to bear arms. In this definitive and provocative history, Adam Winkler reveals how guns-not abortion, race, or religion-are at the heart of America's cultural divide. Using the landmark 2008 case District of Columbia v. Heller-which invalidated a law banning handguns in the nation's capital-as a springboard, Winkler brilliantly weaves together the dramatic stories of gun-rights advocates and gun-control lobbyists, providing often unexpected insights into the venomous debate that now cleaves our nation.


On the Trail of the Assassins

By Jim Garrison,

Book cover of On the Trail of the Assassins: My Investigation and Prosecution of the Murder of President Kennedy

The late New Orleans District Attorney Jim Garrison pursued the only criminal case in this controversy that has tried someone for conspiracy to murder Kennedy in court. He faced death threats, prosecution, infiltration, dirty tricks, and more in the late 1960s. He details what he went through and why he mostly blamed U.S. intelligence officials and agents for what he called a “coup d’etat.” His book was a major basis for director Oliver Stone’s 1991 film, JFK, in which Garrison played a minor role as Justice Earl Warren.

On the Trail of the Assassins

By Jim Garrison,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked On the Trail of the Assassins as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The book that inspired the movie JFK recounts Jim Garrison's attempt to solve the Kennedy assassination, and describes how Garrison was harrassed because of his allegations of government involvement in Kennedy's death.


Eisenhower

By Jim Newton,

Book cover of Eisenhower: The White House Years

This is a deft, economical, and readable biography of Eisenhower's years in the White House, when the Cold War was at its most tense and dangerous, and how it wasn't inevitable that it would stay cold. Eisenhower, in fact, it could be argued, put his stamp on the style and tenor of the Cold War like no other U. S. president.

Eisenhower

By Jim Newton,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Eisenhower as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Newly discovered and declassified documents make for a surprising and revealing portrait of the president we thought we knew.

America’s thirty-fourth president was belittled by his critics as the babysitter-in-chief. This new look reveals how wrong they were. Dwight Eisenhower was bequeathed the atomic bomb and refused to use it. He ground down Joseph McCarthy and McCarthyism until both became, as he said, "McCarthywasm." He stimulated the economy to lift it from recession, built an interstate highway system, turned an $8 billion deficit in 1953 into a $500 million surplus in 1960. (Ike was the last President until Bill Clinton…


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