Jun. 12th, 2010

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Title: The Story Of My Life
Author: Clarence Darrow
Amazon link

Clarance Darrow was an American lawyer best known for his involvement in the 1925 Scopes "monkey trial" in which he (unsuccessfully) defended the teaching of evolution in a Tennessee high school (a story told in the play and movies entitled Inherit The Wind).

I'm reading his autobiography, entitled "The Story Of My Life" (available free in HTML format at Project Gutenberg Australia and in Kindle-friendly prc format at MobileRead).

I've only read the first four chapters so far, but it's already clear that it's a fascinating book in many respects. Darrow writes with a clear, flowing voice, telling a coherent narrative while being completely unafraid of natural digressions. It is exactly what the title claims it to be - an old man telling his life story. It was published in 1932 (and thus may not technically be in the public domain in the US), about six years before his death.

The early chapters draw a vivid sketch of life in a small town in late 19th century Ohio. Of childhood and baseball and public school and family. A real slice of Americana, as they say. How he became a lawyer, and what it was like serving in that capacity in rural America. But it's also seeded with Darrow's opinions on religion and politics and the school system and so much more. Interesting in themselves. All the more so when you consider the source.

I don't agree with everything he says, but I'm so swept up in how he says it, and in the opportunity to see the world as it was through his eyes.

A few pages of excerpts, with some commentary )

That's more than enough, I'm sure. And just from the first four chapters. But I had to share. I go from admiring his clever turns of phrase to soaking in his wisdom to gasping at his boldly opinionated philosophy to sitting back in wonder as a world gone by comes to life before me. I'm not sure if reading it in bits and pieces has the same effect, but hopefully the highlighted passages speak for themselves. I find it fascinating and enthralling, and I hope at least some of you will give it a chance.

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