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Without Precedent: Chief Justice John Marshall and His Times

Saturday 24/February/2018 - 08:43 AM
Sada El Balad

The remarkable story of John Marshall who, as chief justice, statesman, and diplomat, played a pivotal role in the founding of the United States.

No member of America's Founding Generation had a greater impact on the Constitution and the Supreme Court than John Marshall, and no one did more to preserve the delicate unity of the fledgling United States. From the nation's founding in 1776 and for the next forty years, Marshall was at the center of every political battle. As Chief Justice of the United States - the longest-serving in history - he established the independence of the judiciary and the supremacy of the federal Constitution and courts. As the leading Federalist in Virginia, he rivaled his cousin Thomas Jefferson in influence. As a diplomat and secretary of state, he defended American sovereignty against France and Britain, counseled President John Adams, and supervised the construction of the city of Washington. D.C.

This is the astonishing true story of how a rough-cut frontiersman - born in Virginia in 1755 and with little formal education - invented himself as one of the nation's preeminent lawyers and politicians who then reinvented the Constitution to forge a stronger nation. Without Precedent is the engrossing account of the life and times of this exceptional man, who with cunning, imagination, and grace shaped America's future as he held together the Supreme Court, the Constitution, and the country itself.

Hardcover: 512 pages
Author: Joel Richard Paul
Publisher: Riverhead Books (February 20, 2018)
Language: English
Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.6 x 9.3 inches

About the Author
Joel Richard Paul is a professor of constitutional and international law at the University of California Hastings Law School in San Francisco. He is the author of Unlikely Allies: How a Merchant, a Playwright and a Spy Saved the American Revolution, which was named one of the best books of 2009 by The Washington Post. He lives in northern California.

Editorial Reviews

“[A] comprehensive and insightful biography... Paul has produced an excellent treatment of an unquestionably impressive life.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

“A well-informed, perceptive, and absorbing biography of a titan of American history.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“This very human story should be of great interest to almost all readers. Well written and drawing on rich primary sources, Without Precedent lives up to its title and will be an excellent addition to American-history collections.” —Booklist

“Anyone interested in the law and our country’s Founders will find this book revealing and enjoyable.” —Jill Abramson, former Executive Editor of The New York Times and co-author of Strange Justice

“You don't have to be a constitutional law scholar to enjoy this lively, wonderfully engaging account of the life and times of Chief Justice John Marshall.” —William Taubman, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Khrushchev: The Man and his Era and Gorbachev: His Life and Times

"Joel Richard Paul has written a fascinating and deeply authoritative biography of one of the most overlooked but important members of the founding generation. John Marshall was a lawyer, justice, and statesman, who as much as anyone else helped shape the nation's court system and left a lasting imprint on our legal principles—and much more. Here, in Without Precedent, Marshall gets the attention he so justly deserves." —Jay Winik, author of The Great Upheaval and 1944

“I would have predicted that there was nothing worth saying about John Marshall that hadn’t already been said. I would’ve been so wrong. In every chapter of this page-turning account of Marshall’s pivotal place in our nation’s history, even the expert will learn something new. How did Joel Paul figure out, for instance, that the great Chief Justice probably suborned perjury on his brother’s part during the bizarre Marbury v. Madison trial? You owe it to yourself to read Joel Paul’s terrific book to find out.” —Laurence H. Tribe, Carl M. Loeb University Professor and Professor of Constitutional Law, Harvard Law School

“Who was John Marshall, really? Thousands meet him anew each year solely through his published opinions. But finally, Joel Richard Paul gives us this captivating, indispensable account, painting a fascinating picture of the frontiersman, soldier, illusionist, strategist, diplomat and international lawyer who became not just the man behind Marbury, but so much more.” —Harold Hongju Koh, Sterling Professor of International Law at Yale Law School

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