In Father, Son, and Constitution, Alexander Wohl brings to life two major figures of American law: Tom C. Clark and his son, Ramsey Clark. The story focuses primarily on the middle third of the twentieth century and the many heated constitutional challenges that arose during that era.
With an engaging literary style, Wohl perceptively examines not merely the lives and careers of Tom and Ramsey Clark, but the key roles they played in the issues of their day. The story proceeds from Pearl Harbor and World War II, to the Cold War, to desegregation, to the problems that beset President Johnson’s efforts to build the Great Society. At so many different junctures, over several decades, the Clarks were at the center of the constitutional struggles that defined the legal balance between the exercise of individual rights and the maintenance of public order, and for each juncture, Wohl’s account is vivid and fresh.
Father, Son, and Constitution is a timely book. Many of the key constitutional issues in our digital age and the ongoing war on terror are merely updated versions of struggles that were fought at mid-century. Those battles, like today’s, sought to define proper balance between individual rights and personal privacy on the one hand, and national security on the other. Father, Son, and Constitution contains a rich tribe of historical analysis that can inform the handling of constitutional issues now and in the future.
Vincent R. Johnson, Father, Son, and Constitution: How Justice Tom Clark and Attorney General Ramsey Clark Shaped American Democracy, by Alexander Wohl (book review), 61 Fed. Law. 100 (2014).