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Book Review: "My grandfather's Son"

Today I finished reading "My Grandfather's Son" by Clarence Thomas. Today I swept through the book and could not put it down. On page after page I could see so much of myself in his words. Not every experience was identical but much of it was similar.

What I appreciate most about this book is that he presents himself pretty raw for a man sitting on our Nation's highest court. He has a history of saying what is on his mind and standing on principle. This cost him the ability to form a 'constituency' but he was after no fame. Where his principled life, molded by the calloused hands of his Grandfather, got him was a seat at one of the most powerful tables in the land. Along with just eight other people he represents a full 1/3 of our Federal Government. While he is a graduate of Yale Law School and he certainly is wise enough to have skirted some parts of his past to present himself as pure and near perfect, he doesn't. The reader gets a real portrait of a man that inspires us not to be perfect but to be pure in heart.

What comes from "My Grandfather's Son" is an exposition into the mind of only the second black man (or African American if you're PC) to have ever held the title of "Associate Justice of the United States Supreme Court". In spite of being only the second of his kind, Justice Thomas demonstrates how he faced most of his opposition from the very people who supposedly stood for racial equality and the advancement of his race. From policies designed to help his race, to subsidies, to Congressmen, Justice Thomas shows how the very institutions and people set up to help him actually is what caused much of his pain. He does not pretend to be blameless however as one of the main themes of his work rests in personal responsibility. As you read this book you see how he holds others to a high level of personal responsibility and he pulls no punches when discussing his failures to uphold these standards as well.

Some of myself I saw in Justice Thomas' story are:
- First in the family to go to college.
- Yet I too have considered myself an underachiever often bored with my educational pursuits.
- I studied law before theology whereas he studied theology before ending up in law.
- His father walked out on him.
- In his twenties he felt a powerful call to solving issues of social justice.
- He enjoys leisurely debate about philosophy and things such as 'Natural Law'.
- His faith ultimately is what grounds him and what has got him through everything.

I have many other thoughts about this book but I wish to process them first. I've recently heard Justice Thomas say that he hoped this book would inspire at least one person. I'm most certain that his life story has succeeded his ambition many times over.

posted by Tally Wilgis @ Monday, October 08, 2007


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