Oliver Wendell Holmes: A Life in War, Law, and Ideas

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Product Details

W. W. Norton & Company
Publish Date
6.5 X 9.4 X 1.4 inches | 2.1 pounds

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About the Author

Stephen Budiansky is a historian, biographer, and journalist whose writing has appeared in the Atlantic, New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and Washington Post. A recipient of the Guggenheim Fellowship, he resides in Loudoun County, Virginia.


A lively and informative portrait of the great justice.--Robert C. Post, Sterling Professor of Law, Yale Law School
The longevity and complexity of Holmes's life and judicial philosophy present a formidable challenge to a biographer. Stephen Budiansky has met that challenge in distinguished fashion. Weaving together Holmes's private and public lives with a clarity that reveals what had often seemed obscure in previous biographies, this book also shows how Holmes's experience as a thrice-wounded Civil War officer subtly shaped his social and juridical ideas during the next seventy years.--James M. McPherson, author of Battle Cry of Freedom: The Civil War Era
Especially consequential....Budiansky's is now the most engrossing of the major Holmes biographies.--Lincoln Caplan
Budiansky's account shines....Interlaces insightful discussion of his jurisprudence with touching portraits of Holmes's devotion to his wife, Fanny; famous friends like Louis Brandeis; and less famous friends like Henry Abbott....Budiansky writes with admirable lucidity.--Adam J. White
A lively, accessible book.--Noah Feldman
With insight and panache....Budiansky paints a nuanced picture of this exceptionally influential judge....Makes a dry life of the mind into a lively life of a man, and a very appealing one at that....A winner from start to finish, this is a natural fit for anyone who enjoys history or biography.--Library Journal (starred review)
Lively and engaging....At a time when progressives and conservatives alike are so sure of their own premises that America is more polarized than at any time since the Civil War, the 'skeptical humility, ' as Budiansky puts it, that Holmes took from the war seems more elusive, and more urgently needed, than ever.--Jeffrey Rosen
Consistently gripping reading....possessed of a zest and omnivorous curiosity that reflects the boundless energy of its subject.--Steve Donoghue
Discriminating, genial, and admiring.--Brenda Winapple