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Praise for Judgment and Mercy


National Book Critics Circle

"In this biography that reads like a novel, Martin Siegel paints an exhaustive,

fascinating, and  groundbreaking profile of Judge Irving Robert Kaufman."

-- Sam Roberts, New York Times columnist, author of The Brother


"Irving Kaufman is widely remembered as the federal judge who sent Julius and Ethel Rosenberg to the electric chair. Martin J. Siegel's superb biography rescues Kaufman's progressive judicial record from such a one-dimensional interpretation. Siegel's critical empathy brings Kaufman to memorable life and reminds us that, for decades, Kaufman was lauded by the New York Times for his decisions regarding civil liberties."

-- David J. Garrow, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Bearing the Cross and Rising Star: The Making of Barack Obama

"[A] meticulous and unsentimental inquiry aimed at solving the mystery at the heart of Kaufman’s career…. [T]here is much in this book to ponder, not only about one judge but about the responsibility of judges."

-- Linda Greenhouse, New York Review of Books

"Judge Irving Kaufman played a major and frequently controversial role as chief judge of the US Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit. Siegel has written a scrupulously fair and continually fascinating biography of Kaufman, one well worth reading by both lawyers and the general public."

-- Floyd Abrams, First Amendment lawyer, author of The Soul of the First Amendment

"Judgment and Mercy is an intellectually honest and relentless depiction of a deeply flawed American judge. More judgment than mercy, this book captures Irving Kaufman to a tee."

-- Burt Neuborne, former National Legal Director, ACLU, founder, Brennan Center for Justice, New York University School of Law

"You will be surprised and challenged by Martin J. Siegel's compelling biography. In lucid and graceful prose, Siegel presents a comprehensive picture of Kaufman as a liberal jurist, ambitious man, and second-generation New York Jew. Judgment and Mercy illuminates crucial and misunderstood decades in American legal history."

-- Deborah Dash Moore, author of GI Jews and Professor of History and Judaic Studies, University of Michigan

"Fluid and accomplished, Judgment and Mercy is an engrossing read for anyone interested in the saga of civil rights and civil liberties as played out in the courts, as well as the Rosenberg trial and aftermaths. Siegel has a fine eye for detail in describing Kaufman's life within and without the courtroom."

-- Jeffrey S. Gurock, author of Jews in Gotham, and Professor of Jewish History, Yeshiva University

"... a fascinating read...[s]parkling prose....A major judicial biography that earns a place of distinction alongside other notable recent works such as Tomiko Brown-Nagin’s Civil Rights Queen: Constance Baker Motley and the Struggle for Equality, and Brad Snyder’s Democratic Justice: Felix Frankfurter, the Supreme Court, and the Making of the Liberal Establishment, Siegel’s Judgment and Mercy gives its flawed, complex, and perhaps too-long-reviled subject the captivating, multi-dimensional chronicle his life and work deserve."

-- New York Journal of Books

"The trial and executions of the Rosenbergs remain controversial to this day, and they've spawned a vast historical and polemical literature. Judgment and Mercy is the latest contribution. It seeks to provide a complete portrait of Kaufman by distinguishing between the bad judge of the Rosenberg trial and the good jurist who championed a variety of causes dear to the hearts of progressives."

Jewish Book Council 

"There is more to Kaufman than the Rosenberg case, as Martin J. Siegel shows in his excellent biography .... [The book] succeeds masterfully in illuminating [Kaufman's] life ...."

Washington Monthly

"Martin J. Siegel’s excellent new biography serves as a corrective to those who only know of Kaufman for his Rosenberg decision. That Siegel was one of Judge Kaufman’s last clerks and a lawyer adds to his understanding of Kaufman’s story.... [A] sterling biography that evaluates Kaufman fairly and accurately."

 --- Law & Liberty

"Siegel skillfully proceeds to capture the ambitiousness, creativity and blindness of a very consequential judge."

--- Washington Lawyer


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