Vol. 76, No. 8, August
The Forgotten Memoir of John Knox:
A Year in the Life of a Supreme Court Clerk in FDR's Washington
By John Knox, edited by Dennis J. Hutchinson & David J.
Garrow (Chicago, IL: Univ. of Chicago Press, 2002). 288 pgs.
Order, www.amazon.com; $12.99.
Reviewed by Gordon R. Shea
A single sentence buried toward the end of The Forgotten Memoir
of John Knox: A Year in the Life of a Supreme Court Clerk in FDR's
Washington nicely encapsulates the entire book: "I was, however,
witnessing the end of an era in the law and the death of an entire way
So writes author John Frush Knox about his experience clerking for
U.S. Supreme Court Justice James Clark McReynolds during the historic
"court-packing" controversy of the 1936-37 Court term.
One can only hope that McReynolds' modes of thought truly have died
out. McReynolds, already regarded as perhaps the worst Justice of the
20th century, is unlikely to see his standing go up following
publication of Knox's book. For example, Knox reports - amidst his
recounting of many of McReynolds' ethnic prejudices and other aversions
- that McReynolds thought so little of his African American
employee/servants Harry and Mary that he tried to talk the former out of
sending his children to college, and nagged the latter to the point
where she despaired of ever being able to save $200 for her own funeral.
Harry and Mary in fact form a substantial subplot of the memoir; while
McReynolds scolds Knox for his friendliness with such "darkies"
(McReynolds' description), Knox could hardly have survived his clerkship
In terms of the "end of an era," Knox's purplish, over-dramatized
prose itself seems to evoke another time. While The Forgotten Memoir
of John Knox was published in late 2002, Knox in fact penned the
book decades ago (hence the word "Forgotten" in the title). As a writer,
Knox retains much of the starchy writing style of the very early 20th
century texts from which young men such as himself were doubtless
educated. While at first distracting, this style ultimately takes on a
certain charm of its own, a charm that helps to conjure up the times
about which Knox writes.
Unfortunately, however, this book's editors could have used a dose of
charm themselves. In the book's foreword and afterword, Hutchinson and
Garrow describe Knox's early promise, his strange ascent to the
McReynolds clerkship, and his subsequent disappointing legal career.
Oddly, however, the way the editors use this backdrop essentially
belittles Knox. The sketch of Knox's life that the editors do provide
suggests that the story of John Knox is probably at least as fascinating
- and probably far more useful to consider in its details - than the
life of Justice McReynolds. Perhaps some less insensitive legal
historians than Garrow and Hutchinson will one day accord Knox a
personal history of his own.
Internet Forms & Commentary: A
Practitioner's Guide to E-Commerce Contracts & the World Wide
Edited by Jonathan B. Wilson & Julia Alpert Gladstone
(Chicago, IL: ABA Business Law and Public Utility, Communications &
Transportation sections, 2002), 138 pgs. with CD-ROM. $54.95. Order,
Reviewed by Mike Lamb
The estimated 762 million users of the Web rely on the legal
infrastructure supporting commerce on the Internet just as residents of
any city rely on brick and steel. An experienced group of lawyers has
created a handy guide to the vital legal underpinnings of e-commerce in
Internet Forms and Commentary: A Practitioner's Guide to E-Commerce
Contracts and the World Wide Web. With the guide's help, readers
see otherwise invisible infrastructure.
The collaborators assemble a formidable resource for anyone advising
clients using the Internet to promote, buy, or sell products or
services. Well-written chapters provide flexible blueprints on
advertising; licenses for identifying keywords (metatags), links, and
site development, hosting, and usage; and sales of goods and services
through a Web site. Each chapter features a brief introduction to
issues, an exemplar legal document, and commentary on each section of
the sample document. The authors have also included a detailed and
timely chapter on privacy and online data collection.
The speed at which the Web is expanding emphasizes the need for
negotiated agreements to bring a measure of order. The guide places
useful markers for the practitioner trying to predict outcomes in a
loosely regulated Internet that is subject to still-developing standards
of jurisdiction and property rights. Two cautions to the reader: 1) the
editors acknowledge that "users should watch for inconsistencies when
using these forms with each other"; and 2) the accompanying CD-ROM
disappoints because it omits the heart of this slim volume - the
commentary and the useful links sprinkled throughout it - as a trail for
those who want greater detail regarding the intersection of traditional
legal principles and the Internet. By omitting Internet links from the
CD-ROM, the editors missed a chance to create a better tool. Still, the
guide remains useful for building the legal girders needed for Internet
Enron and Beyond: Technical Analysis of
Accounting, Corporate Governance & Securities Issues
Edited by Julia K. Brazelton & Janice L. Ammons
(Riverwoods, IL: CCH Inc., 2002). 444 pgs. $75. Order, (800)
Reviewed by David M. Feldman
This book examines the events surrounding Enron from several
different perspectives. The book addresses the roles of various external
constituencies (independent auditors, investment banks and analysts,
financial press, utility lobbyists, government regulators) and internal
constituencies (Enron's management and directors, internal auditors,
shareholders) in these events. These constituencies are analyzed in the
context of accounting standards for internal and external auditors,
legal issues (corporate governance, utility deregulation, structured
finance, securities regulation and financial disclosure), and
legislative and regulatory reforms arising from the Enron matter.
The first chapter summarizes Enron's chronological history and
introduces the principals from Enron management and the Andersen
accounting firm. Subsequent chapters discuss the Enron matter in the
context of specific topics. These topics include derivatives accounting,
financial engineering with special purpose entities, accounting issues
involving GAAP and GAAS standards, auditor independence, internal
auditing standards, utility industry restructuring, corporate
governance, executive compensation and employee retirement plans, the
role of investment banks and analysts, and Enron's corporate culture and
Each chapter provides an overview of the fundamental legal and
accounting principles for the foregoing topics, and then discusses these
topics in the context of Enron. Certain chapters provide detailed
examples to assist understanding of complex topics and include footnotes
for additional research. The book's primary focus is to review the
legislative and regulatory reforms emanating from Enron and other recent
corporate scandals (for example, the various 2002 legislative and
regulatory proposals culminating with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act).
This book is a compendium from business school academicians,
certified public accountants, consultants, and attorneys. The authors'
expertise in several professional disciplines provides distinct
perspectives to understand the events surrounding Enron. This book is an
excellent reference source, and provides a foundation for understanding
the various accounting and legal issues, including legislative and
regulatory reforms, arising from the Enron affair.
Megamall on the Hudson: Planning, Wal-Mart,
& Grassroots Resistance
By David Porter & Chester L. Mirsky (Victoria, B.C.,
Canada: Trafford Publishing, 2002). 519 pgs. Order, (888)
Reviewed by Barbara A. Reinhold
As undeveloped land becomes less common, citizens have become
increasingly concerned about land use issues within their communities,
taking action to keep existing green space undeveloped.
In Megamall on the Hudson, two college professors who became
involved in an attempt to challenge land-use decisions made by local
officials in a small town in the Hudson Valley region of New York detail
the citizens' struggle and the use of grassroots organization to control
The issue was whether to allow a Wal-Mart megamall to be built on the
outskirts of Ashbury, New York. It is the age-old conflict between
officials and a grassroots citizens organization over who has the right
to control development in a small community where development will have
a large impact on the town. The authors, as they acknowledge in the
book's introduction, do not purport to write an objective scholarly
study. Instead, they have written a story about a struggle in which they
were personally involved as participants, but with the advantage, as
professors who have studied grassroots organization, of professional
knowledge as well.
The book gives a lengthy insider's view of how a community grassroots
organization forms around a specific issue - here the development of
land for commercial use - and gives a good basic look at both legal and
community aspects of land development. It is a fascinating chronicle of
how one community galvanized its resources to fight for its beliefs.
While the book chronicles an extremely interesting story and gives
valuable information for anyone involved in or interested in land-use
planning issues, the writing style tends to be academic and can be
somewhat tedious at times for a general reader. Luckily, it is possible
to skim over the book's more academic and theoretical portions.
To Review a Book...
The following books are available for review. Please request the book
and writing guidelines from Karlé Lester at the State Bar of
Wisconsin, P.O. Box 7158, Madison, WI 53707-7158, (608) 250-6127, firstname.lastname@example.org.
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