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Hallowed Halls of Justice?

As David Feige describes in his recent memoir Indefensible: One Lawyer’s Journey into the Inferno of American Justice (Little, Brown, Company, 2006), early in his career as a public defender, before Feige became trial chief at the Bronx Defenders, he was an attorney with Brooklyn Legal Aid. In 1994—a year in which more residents of New York City were victims of violent crimes than the entire population of Atlanta—he takes his first homicide case.

A Petition to Congress for Redress of Grievances

Is the American soldier that died today in Anbar more important than a cousin I have who was shot last month on the night of his engagement to a woman he’s wanted to marry for the last six years? I don’t think so.

A Moses for our Time

There’s a kinder, gentler image of Robert Moses in circulation these days, helped along by the much talked about exhibits on the master builder now on display at the Museum of the City of New York, Columbia, and the Queens Museum of Art. We have been released, Phillip Lopate suggested in a recent essay in the Times, from the “Satanic” Moses portrayed by Robert Caro in his classic work, The Power Broker. Given the enormous influence of Caro’s version of Moses’ career, some sort of re-interpretation was inevitable. But unfortunately, much of this newfound appreciation is based less on history than on boosterism.

The Feds Bring Death Back to New York

On January 30 in a Brooklyn federal court, the twelve jurors assigned to decide the fate of 24-year old Ronnell Wilson finished deliberating, and went with death. It might have been a dramatic conclusion to a fairly traditional death penalty case—except that the trial never belonged in federal court to begin with.

In Conversation

André Schiffrin with Williams Cole and Theodore Hamm

In The Business of Books (2000), André Schiffrin memorably recalled the heyday of intellectual publishing in the U.S. Schiffrin had directed Pantheon from the early 1960s through 1990, when it was closed by Random House. Pantheon had helped a wide range of authors, including Chomsky and Foucault, reach a large commercial audience. In 1990, Schiffrin launched the New Press. In his new memoir, A Political Education: Coming of Age in Paris and New York (Melville House Publishing), Schiffrin discusses his life before Pantheon, paying particular attention to the political climate of the 1940s and 50s. The Rail’s Williams Cole and Theodore Hamm recently sat down with Schiffrin at his Upper West Side apartment, which contains one wall of books Schiffrin’s father had published in France and then when he directed Pantheon in the 1940s, and another wall of those of that Schiffrin published when he took over Pantheon in the 1960s.

Notes on Oppression

For decades, I have been dropping occasional quotes into various topical files. I use them to dress my office door (rarely noticed), or to add a veneer of scholarship to something I am writing. Together they affirm that I have spent far too much time on my bookshelf. Included here are quotes on Oppression. The message is that injustice is a nasty and sneaky business and can seep into us as just the way things are.

In Conversation

As South America Drifts Left, Wither Brazil?: Paulo Fontes with Nikolas Kozloff

Recently, Nikolas Kozloff, author of Hugo Chavez: Oil, Politics, and the Challenge to the U.S. (St. Martin’s Press, 2006), sat down with Paulo Fontes, a Brazilian and visiting professor at the Program in Latin American Studies at Princeton University. Kozloff is currently working on another book, South America’s New Direction (also with St. Martin’s Press), about the geopolitical realignment in South America and its implications for the U.S. Fontes, a native of Sao Paulo, is a labor historian who worked as a history teacher and researcher at the Cajamar Institute, a labor center in Sao Paulo during the late 80s and 90s. During the interview, Fontes touched on the current state of organized labor in Brazil, the role of social movements, race relations in Brazilian society, the relationship between President Lula and civil society, and U.S.-Brazilian relations.


The Brooklyn Rail

MAR 2007

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