Thursday, May 16, 2013

My Grandfather's Son by, Clarence Thomas

"Only the person who takes the voyage can really talk about it." -William F. Buckley, Jr.

Clarence Thomas's life is what we used to call an American Success Story. My Grandfather's Son details is life from being born in rural poverty to becoming an Associate Justice of the Supreme Court. Thomas was abandoned by his father and, at age 9, was shipped off by his mother to be raised by her parents. After the dual assassinations of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Bobby Kennedy in 1968, young Clarence's life fractured. He dropped out of the seminary, turned his back on religion, and embraced the Angry Black Man (tm) persona popular with college-aged African Americans in the early 1970's. These decisions caused a rift between him and his grandfather that was never repaired. He spent the next part of his career fighting for civil rights and to get better opportunities for minorities in America, but what he saw pushed him back to the political right instead of further to the left. Thomas discusses with much candor subjects like the dissolving of his first marriage, his alcohol abuse, and the rift between him and his grandfather that they both tried to repair shortly before his grandfather's death. He discusses with equal joy the love he obviously feels for his second wife, his return to the Christian faith, and the gratitude he feels toward his grandparents for raising him right. 

In keeping with the tradition of secrecy about the Supreme Court, the book ends with Thomas being sworn in by Chief Justice William Rehnquist and the silent prayer Thomas spoke before his first conference with his fellow justices.

My Grandfather's Son would be a good, inspiring read even if it wasn't written by a justice of the Supreme Court.

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